Banks and credit unions are comfortable. And why shouldn’t they be? They’ve been in existence for hundreds of years. They’re a staple in every town across the United States. Yet, maybe these financial institutions are too comfortable.

Why? Branch traffic numbers are dwindling. Several years ago, Novatas reported that transactions completed in a branch decreased by 25% since 2006, a then 5 year gap .. What is that figure now? FMSI reports branch traffic is currently down 30% since 2005. Paired with the emergence of new technologies, this number will only continue to rise – and in this case an increase in stats is not a good thing.

However, we’re not here to talk about the doom and gloom of the banking industry. In fact, other industries have gone through this exact problem. They saw a decrease in brick-and-mortar shopping locations and began to create an online presence for themselves.

With banking, customers were understandably cautious when dealing with banks in the online world due to secure information being shared. It’s only logical, then, that banks be one of the last industries to make that same transition into the online world.

Being one of the last industries to adopt these new tactics is different than not doing it at all.

The fact that its increase in popularity was slow doesn’t negate the fact that things are changing. It just means that we are beginning to see the shift in consumers feeling comfortable with banks online.

While this may feel a little uncomfortable at first, nobody ever accomplished anything living comfortably. It has been said that success begins at the end of our comfort zones.

So we are right there, on the verge of fundamental change. What can we do to begin to tackle the challenges ahead?

Establish The Emotional Connection Consumers Feel In Your Branch, Online via Customers PCs/Smartphones.

Your bank needs to be seen as more than a product or service. You need consumers to see you as people in your community. For example, say I purchase a dress online from J.Crew When the dress is hanging in my closet, I think about the event I wore it at and how much fun I had. That fond memory triggers me to associate it with J.Crew.

Your bank needs to do the same thing. You want consumers to associate the purchasing of products with a positive experience or emotion.

Surround Ourselves With Experts.

While many of us do not have social media handles ourselves, or don’t understand the appeal of having a Facebook page, we need to surround ourselves with people who do.

People who fully understand social media are able to utilize it in ways that are successful. They understand how to navigate the online social landscape and create engagement and interaction between your bank and it’s customers. These people will be able to use social media successfully so that your bank can see actionable results.

Establish An Open Mindset Willing To Embrace Change

Whether we want it to or not, the banking landscape is changing. If we want to change with it, future success demands that we stop focusing on what we can’t do and start focusing on what we can do. This will allow banks to grow and flourish in the new environment.

While banks may be comfortable doing in-branch transactions, the world is moving in a different direction – and banks need to adapt. If banks can step outside their comfort zones, they will begin to see all the opportunities that can open up for them.

The online social world will open its doors and welcome them to the party. And guess what? Stop living comfortably and you’ll likely find more success in a world that connects with you and sees your bank as more than just a business.

Do you agree? Disagree? What does branch traffic currently look like at your financial institution?