The question came up the other day in our branch if we should equip it with customer wifi. What we thought was an easy question to answer, seemed to have some debate starting with the cost and how often customers that walk into a branch will stop and use wifi. After all, if we do our service job right, the customer is in and out of the branch and on their way, so who has time to connect to wifi? While partially true, there are several other reasons why banks may want to equip their branch with wifi that may not be obvious but should be considered.
Depending on your technology structure, physical layout and your service provider, costs to install secure wifi to cover a branch run from $200 to $1,500. In short, given the cost of running a branch, this is largely a de minimus charge, but we highlight it to build the foundation of a quantitative return on investment decision.
The largest reason to have in-branch wifi is that it makes for a better employee experience since they are the ones that will be using it the most. The best structure is to have a secure network wifi for employee use and then a separate wifi away from the network for customers. Given the rising cost of cellular bandwidth, allowing employees to work in an environment with free access is more than a nice perk, it should be a basic necessity like coffee and toilet paper. Less you think this is for their pure personal use, employees often need to look up information, and taking a customer back to their desk can be awkward. In addition, to do lists or a host of other team communication tools like Asana or Slack are now taking hold at banks, and employees need a way to communicate wherever they are.
The Customer – The Obvious
For the customer, having wifi does a variety of things for bank branches besides the fact that it makes for a more pleasing experience should you ever have to wait for an account officer or stand in line for a teller or ATM. This is particularly true for branches that are evolving into being less transaction oriented and more consultative and more community focused.
According to research by the IHL Group, in branch wifi increases the duration of a customer’s stay for approximately 39% of the customers plus increases traffic for about 56% of the locations. Given how we struggle to drive branch traffic, wifi is another reason to come and stay longer in order to increase engagement.
The Not So Obvious
While all the above is fairly obvious, there are some reasons for branch wifi that escapes many bankers. One unrecognized metric is the importance of knowing what mobile devices your customers use. Having wifi allows you to look at public information on usage and see what type of mobile devices your customers have and some demographic information so you can hone future offerings to ensure compatibility and optimization.
A second factor is that banks can now better conduct in-branch promotions to try to convert more customers on to their mobile banking platforms. A promotion where the customer is required to take mobile action is perfect for the branch as it allows in-branch support in order to support some tech-challenged customers. The same is true for banks trying to build a social media presence, as banks can promote products and social activity while a customer waits. Having wifi aids in this effort.
As banks move more online and mobile, having wifi in your branch to support your employees and customers is the right thing to do in order to support the long run strategy of the bank. Helping your customers use multiple banking channels, conducting cross-selling promotions utilizing mobile, social media and data collection are just some of the many reasons why all branches should be web-enabled. Since your bank is all about service, the last thing you want is a situation where your customer comes in for a meeting and can’t get access to their information because you don’t have a guest wifi network.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on April 13, 2015