Trick or TreatTrick or treat! It’s Halloween and brands everywhere are using spooky season as a way to have some fun with customers. However, any ghoulish behaviour belongs firmly in the land of fun, and should not creep into everyday customer interactions.

Banks that don’t invest properly in technology to support back end and customer-facing environments run the risk of creating bank branch nightmares, which will have customers running out the door – with their money in hand.

Here are a few bone-chilling scenarios that banks need to avoid, with tips on how technology can step up and tackle the problem.

Zombie queues

Imagine walking into a bank branch and being greeted by a seemingly never-ending queue of tired customers, desperately waiting to be served. Stressed out staff are struggling to cope, and no one is sure if they’re even in the right queue. If your customers are starting to look like a shuffling line of angry zombies, you need to get a plan in place before they start marching out of the door.

Technology can help you manage your queues. Sophisticated self-service devices can allow customers to book an appointment and avoid having to wait in line. Tablet applications allow staff to greet customers when they enter the branch, check that all devices in the branch are operating correctly, and quickly understand their needs so that they can direct them to the correct desk.

Ghostly cash-free ATMs

UK consumers still rely heavily on cash. Imagine for a second that your ATM runs out of cash. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Customers will head to a competitor, straight away. That’s scary enough, but it’s more than just the money in your customer’s wallet that’s at stake. If your customers can’t get access to their money, they won’t hesitate to turn to social media and make sure everyone knows about it. Your brand reputation is on the line. While there are many elements to consider, simple steps can help you get the timing of your deliveries right, and keep your cash levels at their optimal level.

Cash shortages are expensive and slow to rectify, and a mistake that no bank can afford to make. Without a magic crystal ball, banks cannot completely predict the future – however, they can cast a positive spell over ATM network management by putting predictive analytics and a smattering of data wizardry (or more correctly data science) at the heart of their cash management strategy.

Getting a grip on ghoulish branches

Banks must do everything they can to avoid these nightmarish scenarios. A bad experience can seriously impact brand perception, which, at a time when customer loyalty is fragile, could prove disastrous. While other channels are important, the branch is a powerful driver for customer engagement and loyalty. However, neglected branches that don’t care deeply about their customer needs are about as inviting as a gloomy crypt.

Forward-thinking banks are reinventing their branch networks as part of an evolving omnichannel strategy. They are reconfiguring the branch around the customer, with self-service digital banking taking centre stage, helping to free up both staff time and floor space to allow for more productive face-to-face consultations with customers. As they evolve into more innovative, inviting places for customers to engage with bank staff, the branch is coming back from the dead.

By Mark Aldred, head of sales, Auriga