Over the past several weeks, branch sales engagement interactions with customers and prospects in areas of the US that have been hardest hit by COVID -19 are down by an average of about 45% (for select banks as measured in the Ignite Sales IQ Analytics database.) We anticipate these numbers to decline even more over the coming days as the government implements stricter safety guidelines.
During the same timeframe, select banks in the same areas are seeing a dramatic increase in digital engagement, by as much as 54%. The channel shift is evident.
This data probably reinforces your intuitive perspective about how COVID -19 is immediately impacting banks and credit unions, and very likely mirrors the change in channel buying behaviors for consumers across business verticals. For example, ecommerce for selected brick and mortar retailers saw a 52% average weekly growth rate in January and February over the prior year. *
We all hope that this national emergency will be over soon with minimal harm to individuals as well as the overall economy. It does, however, reveal in an accelerated manner, the vital importance of highly engaging digital channels right now and the important role they play in the future.
The silver lining for the overall economy and banking in particular is that the access to digital channels and smooth transition for many workers to a virtual work environment provides a safety net, a plan B so to speak, that allows much of the business of banking to soldier on despite the need to keep social distances and work from home.
As a result of CDC guidance, it appears that there will be significantly fewer consumers and small businesses getting out of the house to visit branches to conduct business in the near term. These consumers and small businesses will not have a banker sitting in front of them to assist in making wise choices. In a purely digital channel, it will be very important for banks to adapt and have the ability to provide smart digital guidance to ensure the consumers needs are being met and business continues.
There is a tangible benefit to well-designed, digital customer engagement focused on discovering and meeting customer needs. Banks can expect to see prospective customers up to four times more likely to purchase a product through digital channels. That’s a powerful alternative in our coronavirus constrained economy.
An investment in your digital channel today could fund projects you need for the branch network after the storm passes.
by George Noga – March 19,2020
*Coronavirus and e-commerce: it’s complicated, by Greg Sterling, Marketing Land, March 12.