Jul 13 2020

The Bank Branch Reopening Checklist

What tactics and technologies do banks need to safely open their doors to the public?

Forget the new normal. It’s time for the “next normal” — a reimagining of what service, safety and staffing solutions look like as banks begin reopening.

While there’s no easy answer here — banks must leverage guidance from professional, government and regulatory associations to determine their best-fit reopening plan — it’s worth creating a financial framework that addresses current issues, accounts for emerging concerns and helps keep banks adaptable as the global pandemic continues to evolve.

Not sure where to start? Here’s a high-level bank branch reopening checklist that covers big concerns, prioritizes key processes and targets the critical technologies firms need to succeed in the next new normal.

Review How Banks Can Meet Public Health Regulations

Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, any bank reopening checklist starts with a review of current public health regulations. The COVID-19 information page offered by the FDIC provides a big-picture look at key process priorities, while the American Banking Association offers a host of reopening resources for ABA members.

Create a Reopening Rubric for the Bank

What services will you offer in-branch? How many customers will be permitted at any one time, and what’s the process for entry? Some banks have opted for appointment-only options to maintain social distancing and reduce potential risks, while others are looking to manage customer service interactions in-situ by employing security staff to help boost customer confidence and ensure clients have a valid reason for visiting.

WATCH: What we learned from this year's all-virtual Cisco Live.

Continue Remote-Work Support for Bank Employees

According to American Banker, 60 percent of financial CFOs are now considering the adoption of permanent work-from-home policies that would allow staff to choose their best-fit office option. It makes sense: Growing COVID-19 concerns have forced large financial services organizations like J.P. Morgan Chase to roll back reopening plans, and recent survey data shows that while 55 percent of U.S. employees are ready for workplace returns, 38 percent are uncomfortable with the idea, and 7 percent “definitely would not” return to the workplace.

As a result, it’s critical to ensure both IT and C-suite support for telework wherever possible to both deliver consistent productivity and ensure staff safety.

Develop Mobile Banking Mandates

While many banks have been slow to adopt fintech mandates for mobile applications and digital transactions, consumers’ post-pandemic preferences now make this impossible to ignore. As noted by research firm McKinsey, while 15 to 20 percent of customers expect digital channel use to increase even after the current crisis is complete, markets in other parts of the world report that 60 to 85 percent of users prefer to handle everyday transactions digitally. Add in the “data deficit” faced by many organizations thanks to sudden consumer preference pivots, and it’s now critical for financial firms to prioritize the development of streamlined, secure and service-rich mobile banking applications.

Manage In-Branch Interactions

Before opening doors, staffing service desks and delivering in-person financial solutions, banks must find ways to manage the critical details of mid-COVID operations. Here, the right technologies — including handheld screening devices to evaluate employee temperatures each day, ultraviolent light disinfecting drones, and handheld wands and people-counting software to track customer numbers and data for contact tracing — can help bridge the gap. By evaluating and implementing an end-to-end physical office management plan backed by situation-specific technologies, banks can improve both staff and visitor safety at scale.

The next normal in banking bears little resemblance to the recent past. But it’s not all bad news: As banks make plans to reopen branches and bring staff back, a comprehensive checklist can help reduce potential risk and increase the chances of post-pandemic success.

This article is part of BizTech's EquITy blog series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #FinanceTech hashtag.

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