HSBC has revealed it is to close a staggering 82 branches in the UK between April and September this year. The face of banking has transformed beyond recognition in the past year, with nearly three quarters (73%) now using digital banking channels weekly, causing bank branches to close at an alarming rate of 55 every month.
COVID-19 has triggered banking institutions to reimagine their digital strategies with the aim of futureproofing themselves in a challenging pandemic environment. Those who struggle to digitise will be left behind, as only 28% of consumers admit they expect to return to branches post-crisis.
Phil Jones, Senior Vice President of Banking at Teleperformance, believes the next challenge for banks, competing in the digital race, will be to sustain a human connection with their customers virtually.
Jones said: “In this hyper-digital age, being human still plays an intricate role in the banking industry. It raises the question of how can financial institutions leverage technology without losing the human element. The need to find a solution is more prevalent than ever.
“The most strategic move banks can make right now – to differentiate themselves against disruptors – is to implement a High-Tech, High-Touch to customer service. They need to master a balance between tech-smart support and the human touch to ensure even the most sensitive financial matter is dealt with appropriately, on the channel customers prefer, maintaining a dedicated level of empathy where necessary. Only then, can banks create a fully-rounded digital experience, fit for meeting the expectations of tomorrow’s customer.”
Is Your Bank Open?
With the UK entering into a third national lockdown, people are once again having to stay home and use online services for most of their day to day life. As they are a financial service, banks are considered essential and are able to stay open while the country is in lockdown. Here is a list of UK banks and whether their branches are open currently, though always check with your individual bank branch before you travel.
Barclays: Plan to keep their branches open wherever possible, with varying opening times from location to location.
HSBC: Most HSBC branches are open but working to reduced operating hours – likely either 10 am-4 pm or 10 am-2 pm – as well as a reduced number of services available. The bank has also advised that customers must comply with restrictions, such as wearing a facemask inside branches (unless exempt) and have warned that those who don’t comply could have accounts closed.
Halifax: Most branches will remain open where possible between 9:30 am and 2 pm. Mobile branch services are suspended and some branches have temporarily closed.
NatWest: The majority of branches are open 10 am – 3 pm, with mobile branch services paused. They also offer video banking alongside telephone and online banking.
RBS: Owned by the same parent company as Natwest, the majority of their branches will also be open between 10 am and 3 pm.
Santander: Branches are usually open between 10 am and 2 pm, but the bank have asked customers only visit in person if they have a problem that can’t be solved over the phone.
TSB: Bank branches are open but operating times vary. Some branches are temporarily closed.
Lloyds: Branches are open wherever possible between 9:30 am and 2 pm, however some branches have closed temporarily. Some routes on the mobile branch service have been reintroduced on a phased basis.
Nationwide: Most branches remain open with varying open times, with some opening on Saturdays.