3 Ways Banks Can Use Mobile Tech to Improve Customer Experience

Sixty-four percent of Americans own smartphones. And they aren't just using their phones to make calls. In fact, they're using them for everything from online shopping to digital banking.

Now that mobile technology is so widespread, banks must embrace it — and they must capitalize on it to remain relevant. If you need some convincing, here are three ways customers will have a better experience at your branch after you adopt mobile practices.

1. Tablet-toting tellers

The concept of untethering bank tellers from their desks may seem like an alarmingly new concept to many, but many banks are proving it works. So let's face it; it very well could be the future of banking.

Retailers like Verizon, Apple and even Nordstrom  have long been using technology to allow their employees to mix, mingle, and better serve their customers. At these stores, all employees travel around the sales space with a tablet, a cell phone or both. This allows them to conduct business from anywhere in the store — talk about freedom from the desk!

Tablet technology also enhances the speed with which tellers can handle customer needs. This becomes particularly true when high-tech accessories like card and fingerprint readers are added to mobile devices.

Banks, using a similar model, can make it easier for customers to interact with tellers and eliminate some of the barriers between them. With the array of banking options available today, banks need to be accessible and keep up with technology trends or customers will go elsewhere. Another perk of this model? Tellers will build better relationships with customers. And we all know that's a very good thing.

Mobile practices can be implemented in a variety of ways; it's different from bank to bank. Some banks keep their traditional layout largely unchanged. Others transition to pod designs that allow for better showcasing of products and services.

In pod design, bank employees can move about the space and service customers as needed. Devices like cash recyclers allow tellers to securely perform cash transactions at the pod stations and virtually eliminate the need to interrupt work with trips to the vault.  

But even if changing the branch layout isn't a possibility, you can still implement mobile practices. For example, Numerica Credit Union in Spokane, Washington, created a tech bar that allows customers to conduct mobile banking, home banking, check mortgage rates — or keep their children occupied with a game so they can meet with a customer associate!

2. Mobile check-in

You can use your cell phone to reserve your place in line for a haircut or a restaurant, but not at your bank. Why?

According to recent research, more than 25 percent of all Americans have used an app to check in at a business. As more and more businesses offer this convenience, customers will become increasingly accustomed to it. As they do, they will demand that other businesses — including banks — follow suit.

A mobile check-in app could allow bank customers to better preview the wait time at their bank branch based on their transaction or service. Or, they can grab a digital ticket and reserve their place in line before they even get out of the car.

But what about customers who don't want to use mobile technology? No problem. Remember, using an app is optional. Customers who don't choose to check in can still stroll into their local bank at any time and get in line whenever it's convenient for them.  

3. Cash automation

ATMs were once the wave of the future. Now, customers have seen it, they've done it, and they're ready for more. Banks can further enhance existing cash automation systems by allowing customers to do even more for themselves through a handful of self-service options.

Technology advancements are making self-service banking a reality. Industry innovators are developing systems that allow for new methods of mobile integration. One such effort is a network to let customers initiate their transactions — from deposits to withdrawals — using their mobile devices. They can then complete them when they arrive at the bank using the Near Field Capabilities (NFC) features of their devices.  

NFC chips are already in use in many finance-based applications — including tap-to-pay services like Google Wallet or Apple Pay. While these cashless transactions may have seemed like science fiction just a decade ago, they are growing in acceptance due, in large part, to their convenience.

And while cash is still king, mobile payments are on the rise. There is less skepticism about digital payment options as there once was.

Today's customers are becoming spoiled by the wealth of conveniences available to them. To truly compete in this fast-paced, digital world, it's critical to stay up-to-date with new technology and services. By increasing your customers' access to convenience services, you can grow your position in the market.