The way in which the general public deal with their money has changed dramatically, over the course of the past 12 months. Banks have also has to alter the service they provide in order to abide with restrictions that have been put in place.
Before the pandemic, there were digital alternatives to ways in which the public could keep on top of their finances. The ability to check account balance and operate transactions with the click of a button, became convenient. The traditional ways of paper statements, were still very much in-tact, but banking applications ensured that you could monitor your account at all times.
Phone and social media assistants were and still are very much present, as more people begin to use these alternatives for the foreseeable. This has caused some disruption for those wish to stick with traditional methods; however, banks are beginning to lead the transition into the ‘digital age’.
HSBC have announced that they will close 82 branches in the UK during 2021, due to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of customer trends, they will be focusing on providing a more efficient service across their digital channels. This will leave them with 511 branches; and the changes are set to take place between April and September. They are planning to avoid any redundancies before redeploying staff.
HSBC are working on providing four distinct branch formats: full service; cash service for communities that are more cash intensive; digital service focused on offering self-service technology; and pop ups.
Another motivation behind the transition is the fall in percentage of customers using local branches. HSBC revealed that the amount of customers using branches has fallen by a third, with 90% of customers preferring service over the phone or on social media. Over 100,000 customers a week interact on social media.
Jackie Uhi, head of network, U, HSBC, says: “The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the need for the changes that we are making. It hasn’t pushed us in a different direction but reinforces the things that we were focusing on before and has crystalised our thinking. This is a strategic direction that we need to take to have a branch network fit for the future."
It seems that away from the impact of the pandemic, customers prefer a digital service. With a range of applications being constructed more often to aid customer needs, this trend looks like it will increase in the years ahead.
Other banks have yet to announce a similar approach, and with this news, they could well be laying out plans, if necessary. This move by HSBC looks to be spearheading the transition into the ‘digital age’ within the banking sector.