- HSBC began testing a program to equip a dozen bank associates and the branch manager with Samsung Gear S3 smartwatches to study how mobile technology can improve operations and customer experiences at brick-and-mortar banks, according to a Samsung blog post. The bank's pilot program started last month at its flagship Fifth Avenue branch in New York City and will soon expand to Dubai.
- Bank employees who greet customers as they enter the branch can use preset messages built into the smartwatch app to send alerts to colleagues to determine who can best handle the customer's request. Those employees can instantly reply with preset messages to indicate whether they're available to help the customer. The manager can send messages to an individual employee or the whole team, as well as track bank operations across the Manhattan branch's three floors.
- Early results show improvements in wait and response times for customers of the Manhattan branch. HSBC plans to continue to evaluate the technical feasibility for smartwatch-equipped employees and further changes in wait times and other customer service functions before rolling out the program to additional branches.
HSBC's test of smartwatches for bank employees demonstrate how mobile technology can improve customer service in a retail setting. While banks are building out the functionality of their mobile apps to handle more monetary transactions and additional convenient features, many customers still rely on brick-and-mortar branches for customized service. More than three-fourths (77%) of people prefer face-to-face interaction when handling complex banking tasks, according to a survey Samsung commissioned from researcher Celent.
The bank asked its employees to discuss the smartwatches with customers as they respond to the query to let them know that HSBC is working to provide them with the latest innovations. By actively informing customers about the smartwatch pilot, HSBC aims to boost awareness around its efforts to enhance customer service and longer-term loyalty.
The pilot comes as smartwatches have yet to show the same kind of growth as smartphones in their early days, though the wearable devices are finding ways to gain acceptance through businesses. Last year, health insurer Aetna announced a plan to give away Apple Watches to more than 500,000 customers, and started with working with the tech giant to develop health and fitness apps, per Axios. Some casino workers have been outfitted with smartwatches to receive alerts when important guests arrive, per CNBC, demonstrating the devices' usefulness in instant communication in brick-and-mortar settings.