Why Your Branch Network Needs Virtual Reality

You work at a financial institution which is strategizing for the future and are assigned the role of looking at what could be the most disruptive technological business tool of our time: virtual reality (VR). At Shikatani Lacroix Design, we have long seen the business potential that VR represents, and consequently are always researching cutting-edge VR applications and testing their use for implementation – especially for financial service organizations like yours.

Leveraging such a new and disruptive technology for your bank branch strategy is not an easy task, especially considering how fast the industry and consumers’ expectations are evolving. The use of VR must specifically address these evolving consumer needs and must also fit into the company’s strategy as a whole. At SLD, we have been extremely successful at connecting corporate strategy with VR activations, particularly in the financial industry, and would like to share three key ways you can expect virtual reality to play a role in your branches, both in the short and long-term.

VR enables the financial institution to extend its channel interactions to meet the consumer anywhere they are.

These days, for any business, it is vital to have a brand presence at every consumer touchpoint, whether physical or virtual. Of course, internet-connected virtual reality will become another of these touchpoints. Soon a consumer will be able to interact with tellers from the comfort of their own home by using a virtual reality headset. This not only continues the company’s omni-channel strategy, but also addresses evolving consumer expectations – in this industry’s case, the key to ensuring happy customers is to meet their financial needs wherever and whenever they need them. As the technology grows, hardware will become more affordable and the VR headgear will become far more portable and wearable, enabling consumers to perform virtual teller interactions on-the-go. Designing and implementing a virtual teller strategy will play an important role in your branch strategy going forward.

VR can leverage neuroscience to support and justify a new branch design or element.

The current approach to redesigning the entire interior or merely an element of a branch is to consult with a professional design agency, perhaps perform some traditional consumer research if the budget allows, and then gain approval from all internal stakeholders. This approach is difficult in part because it relies on leveraging a large amount of intangible, unquantifiable factors. Because of this, the entire process tends to be inefficient and costly due to things like up-front product development costs, research, and design testing.

Now, with SLD’s pioneering approach to neuroscience and VR, we can have a typical consumer experience a virtual version of the design and then aggregate the neurological data from the experience. Through this method we can gather quantifiable data about any design idea, we can understand how the consumer feels about a certain idea, and then we can sell the idea using these facts to justify the design. This makes an almost indisputable case for the implementation of the design and inspires confidence that the design will meet the needs and wants of consumers.

VR (especially when coupled with neuroscience) enables a method of collecting consumer data for more accurate and targeted Customer Relationship Management (CRM) campaigns

This point is one of the more forward-thinking tactics relating to the coupling of virtual reality and neuroscience, and is also perhaps one of the most controversial elements of the technologies. In the future, as VR and neuroscience components miniaturize to the point they become ubiquitous among smart devices, the data that can be derived from them will enable any company (financial or otherwise) to mold their strategies around statistical pain points in real time, as the consumer walks around the retail environment. What this means is that your financial institution will be able to specifically understand and perhaps even fix any process, from unsuccessful teller interactions, to why a transaction is inefficient, to distaste for certain décor elements in real time, enabling you to be agile and make the customer journey a positive one. Perhaps most importantly, your CRM system will be updated in the background to instruct any teller how to best interact with this customer in the future – your teller could even know what kind of coffee the customer will prefer at this time of day.

Some might interpret this neuro-related approach as a new kind of invasion of privacy, which is why it might also lead to new privacy laws addressing this specifically, requiring that the company ask the consumer to opt-in to this specific neurological service. However, studies show that Millennials are not concerned about their privacy, so opting in to a service such as this is not a great hurdle. If consumers opt-in, they will definitely experience a much-improved service level that addresses many or all of their pain points and endears them even more to the brand. This demonstrates that developing a CRM strategy that leverages data derived from VR/neuroscience approaches can benefit the brand and the company in positive ways.

Ultimately, VR is coming – and quickly. The industry is booming and financial institutions like yours are looking for ways to incorporate this strategy in a smart way that also fits with how your company currently operates. By following SLD’s points above, you will be able to understand how incredibly robust a VR tool can be (especially when coupled with SLD’s neuroscience approach) for your business processes and your branch strategies.