GLORY: helping banks develop both physical and digital environments

It’s easy to view cash in financial services in much the same way as you would a gramophone at an iPhone launch party: a nice retro touch, but rather irrelevant. Even the Bank of England’s new polymer five and ten pound notes, designed to withstand the immense strain of the modern wallet, feel a little quaint compared to the glossy app of an online-only real time bank.

Javed Anjum

EMEA Branch Transformation Sales Specialist, GLORY​​​​​​​

However hard card and increasingly mobile payment providers try to persuade us otherwise, though, the fact is cash still plays a significant role in the landscape of global transactions. As branch transformation sales leader for GLORY, a leader in cash technology solutions, Javed Anjum is focussed on helping banks maximise the efficiency of all the branches that still regularly deal with large volumes of the stuff.

“Cash is still a challenge inside the branch,” he says. “In fact, as more and more technology is brought into the front office to automate consumer transactions, the back office is being left to deal with more cash than ever. How do you reconcile all these transactions, processing them in the most efficient way possible? That’s one specific area that we’re working on with various customers across Europe.”

Despite Glory’s history as a business dealing solely with tangible currency, the firm has exhibited a high level of flexibility in altering its product lines to function effectively within the digital age.

As the banking industry continues to transform branches, a lot of our focus has shifted towards automation and digitisation,” says Anjum. “As digital forms of interaction become more and more commonplace, one set of consumers are repeatedly struggling to have their needs met. SMEs have a significantly higher value of transaction requirement, and this requirement is not met by the vast majority of digital alternatives. Therefore, SMEs are one of the few customers still calling for regular human intervention within the branch.

He believes technology needs to be inclusive to be successful, “The reason why customers like teller counters in branches is because they can fulfil most of their transactional needs in a single place, why not offer the same through self service? For example, we have developed technologies that are capable of handling both small and large quantities of cash in a single transaction eliminating the need for two separate solutions for retail and SME customers and introducing efficiency through cash recycling”. He agrees, however, that the need for human intervention and support to promote the use of technology is unlikely to diminish in the short term.   

He believes there is a pragmatic solution. “An assisted service solution lies somewhere in between the two,” he says. “It’s partial automation, so customers can continue to benefit from a simple and intuitive experience. However, as soon as the customer feels unable to further complete what they visited the branch for, then help is immediately at hand in human form. This help is entirely personalised, and the transition from on-screen guidance to the assistance of the clerk is seamless.

Our research supports the value and viability of assisted service solutions; almost a quarter of consumers across all age groups regularly feel a need for help when using self-service devices in branch. For example, a customer may walk up to a machine, commence a transaction, and then subsequently discover that their card has been captured or their notes jammed. In this situation, it’s in the bank’s interest to prevent any feelings of customer discomfort in order to ensure a positive banking experience. Assisted service fulfils this need by automatically alerting the bank’s staff to what has happened, allowing them to intervene and provide proactive help without the customer ever having to say a word.

“Our TellerInfinity assisted service solution eliminates the problem of lost customers wandering around branches searching for staff to explain their issue to. The immediate benefits of this in providing a better customer experience are evident, but the long-term objective of the solutions is to help increase the adoption of automated technologies. The better experience that customers have using machines in branch, the more likely they are to visit these machines in the future, allowing banks to profit from lower operating costs.”

In essence, then, Glory is helping banks to develop both physical and digital environments where all of their communication channels are seamlessly interconnected, and accessible to every customer, regardless of how technically competent they are. It’s a challenge for banks to achieve this singlehandedly.

 “Arguably, banks were some of the first IT companies, offering online and real time transactions long before other industries,” says Anjum. “Over the years, new technologies have arrived and been adopted by banks only to exist in silos, kept separate from other technical systems. This separation has led to the isolated evolution of bank technologies.

 “Branches should be focussing on the integration of backend systems into their overarching operations, since that will allow them to introduce new and advanced services in the future without having to replace all their pre-existing mechanisms which can be a cumbersome and complicated task.”

The branch that prepares itself effectively for technology progression will be the one to survive, he says.

“An ideal branch is one that has been made future-proof through flexibility. This doesn’t necessarily entail the bank spending vast sums on the latest cutting edge technology. When I say future-proof, I mean that the branch is suitably equipped to adopt new technologies as soon as they become available and economically iable.

Change is constant, both in terms of technology and consumers’ lifestyles. The branch of the future must be ready to embrace both of these things.

He’s confident banks will be present on the high street for a long time to come. “There’s a large body of research to suggest that consumers go online, conduct their research on what products or services may be of interest to them, and then visit a branch in order to discuss with someone before they make the final purchase decision. Therefore, this vital part of the buying cycle appears to be remaining within branches, since a significant proportion of consumers feel that it’s more secure and convenient to speak to somebody face-to-face than to finalise an agreement through a screen,” says Anjum.

“The result of this is that the quality of interactions in branches is likely to increase as more simple services, such as payments and transfers, are offloaded onto digital and mobile platforms. Therefore, branches are still a highly valuable resource in the eyes of the customer,” he adds. “However, for banks to retain this value they must impose a robust digitalisation strategy, so that branches are not left trailing in the technological dust of their other channels.”