It was with much dismay that we recently learnt of the planned closure of some 200 Lloyds Banking Group branches, with the predicted loss of around 9,000 jobs. Wow! What a blow to the UK economy, not to mention the devastating effect this will have on those who have been ‘down sized’.
Lloyds Banking Group blame the impact of ‘digitization’ on consumer habits, suggesting that customers want to access their bank accounts from multiple digital channels as much as physical branches.
The group’s chief executive, António Horta-Osório, suggested that the impetus behind their digitization effort lies in their hyper-competitive industry. In view of the need for operational efficiencies, cost cutting measures, and creating the ‘bank of the future’, closing many branches while opening a few ‘digital’ ones seems like the right strategic play. Branches equipped with iPads or internet terminals offering Skype sessions with remotely located staff represents a much more ‘efficient’ use of resources.
Barclays Bank recently launched its nationwide Digital Eagles programme. This might have seemed like an odd move at first, but in light of Lloyds’ planned branch closures, it’s perhaps not so ridiculous. Barclays Bank has wisely anticipated that the only way to curb the resource-hungry demand for their physical branches is to train customers to become less branch-dependent and more digitally-savvy.
For the Millennials, or indeed anyone born after the 1990s, online banking is a no-brainer, an absolute doddle. It is instantaneous, accessible, efficient, easy to use and most of all, free. But for a few older generations, logging on online won’t come as second nature. Those still tied to the traditional way of doing business, sitting in front of someone and seeing the same familiar face every week, these groups are more likely to resist the pressure to go online. That is unless you can break down their fears and reservations by effectively demystifying the Internet. And how does one do that, you might ask. By gently introducing them to the fun, fascinating and exhilarating experiences offered by the likes of emailing relatives, Facebooking loved ones, or Skyping grandchildren located half way across the world.
So in fact, Barclays Bank had it right all along. They know that their digitization strategy will only work if it is heavily supported by a comprehensive programme designed to train and encourage people to move online. Like the Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays will undoubtedly experience branch closures and branch upgrades to a new digital space where Internet screens almost entirely replace real tellers. The difference is that Barclays have been smart about the need to help the older generation make that critical transition.
In your industry, what are the inevitable digital trends that are changing consumer habits and transforming the way you compete? Have your consumers migrated online and are your competitors beginning to deliver more of their offerings through digital channels? Are you ready for the inevitable and are you able to make the necessary investments to ensure that you’ll still be a leader in your field in five years time? Or, are you a entrepreneur or business startup ready to take advantage of these new trends by developing innovative products and services that leverage digital technologies?
If any of this interests you and you’d like to talk to someone about digitizing your products and services, call Digital Gold HQ for an informal chat about how we can help launch your business into the future. We’re a talented group of professional digital consultants who help businesses like you brand, position and promote themselves online.
For more information, please contact Nina Epellé on +44 (0) 800 612 9482 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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