HSBC just introduced Pepper, a robot that will greet customers entering its flagship location in New York City. While the robot won’t be replacing tellers, it will answer basic questions, serve as an online banking station, and allow customers to take selfies with it. As online banking becomes the norm, Pepper might be the answer to how to keep physical branches relevant while still promoting digital services.
This isn’t the first time HSBC has pushed the envelope when it comes to attracting customers. It is currently one of only two brands to attract a community of over one million followers on LinkedIn, where it offers advice, broaches conversations, and features videos about entrepreneurship, technology, and other hot topics. While platforms like Facebook and Twitter are more useful for brand-building and communication, content and user engagement on LinkedIn typically centers around recruitment and retention. However, HSBC was able to blossom on the platform and jump fifteen spots up in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Financial Services partly due to its decision to share unique content centered around the customer instead. Similarly, Pepper might be the key to drawing customers to physical branches, while still doubling as a digital touchpoint for online banking, photo sharing, and product education.
While Pepper’s offerings might pique the interest of customers at first, novelty can only go so far. If HSBC wants to turn Pepper into a regular at their branches, it should consider topping off the robot with more task-based services, such as money deposits and withdrawals.