Internet banking has been around for quite some time now and there is no doubt that it has made banking a lot more efficient and simple. Adoption of internet banking continues to grow day by day. Research shows that the number of transactions happening through the internet is expected to cross 33 billion by 2012. The number of online transactions is growing at a rate of nearly 13%, much higher than that for any other channel. By 2013, banks expect nearly 20% of sales to be made through this channel. Banking through the internet is definitely more affordable and there is a segment of customers who prefer the convenience and easy accessibility that it offers. Personal financial management tools have empowered customer and taught them to handle their finances themselves.

While all this is true, there is one other channel whose importance cannot be understated, and that is the branch. In a recent global study of retail banking, respondents ranked the branch and the Internet as the most important channels. Over the years, banks have tried planos iptv.  to move customers away from the branch towards a number of self-service channels, even offering them incentives to do so. Despite these attempts, the branch remains the channel of choice for a significant proportion of customers. There are several reasons for this, not the least of which is psychological comfort. The physical environs of the branch and the availability of staff and advisers inspire trust and confidence in banking customers. When they walk into a branch, they are sure of finding someone to attend to their queries; they take service for granted. This feeling of reassurance is so important to them that they don’t mind taking the trouble of visiting the branch or waiting in line to be served.

Not surprisingly, another recent study showed that customer engagement in retail banking – a major determinant of quality of experience – was driven more by emotional, rather than functional factors. At the top of this list was customers need to be valued, followed by their perception of the engagement level of bank employees. Simply put, customers wanted bank employees to show them that they valued their business, and when required, go the extra mile to fulfill their expectations.

Another analysis said that retail banking brands must be emotionally aligned with their customers to win them over. This means that banks must try to understand their customers needs better by asking relevant questions, listening carefully and offering a sympathetic ear to genuine problems.

Moving from the subject of drivers to barriers, past studies have repeatedly indicated that concern regarding security is one of the biggest obstacles to Internet banking adoption. While this has certainly come down in recent years with security systems becoming more robust, the fact remains that people – even Internet banking users – are not at ease sharing sensitive financial information over a website, and therefore restrict their activity to basic transactions. Another reason why customers don’t do more through Internet banking is that most banks don’t offer advisory services over this channel, further limiting its role. On the other hand, the branch has always been the go-to option for customers seeking to make a key financial decision requiring advisory input, such as availing a mortgage or planning an investment portfolio.

These facts explain why, despite the convenience and accessibility of Internet banking and other online channels, many customers still prefer the branch as a channel for banking. And so, it would seem that replicating the branch experience through other channels such as the Internet, is a good strategy that would go a long way in providing positive customer experience. The good news is that banks can, with some effort, replicate the branch experience – which has been successful so far, and continues to sustain – in other channels, including the Internet.