90 CBA branches shorten trading hours: Staff switch to contact centres

  • By Elizabeth Fry

Commonwealth Bank has adapted its regional branch network to support the growing volume of calls by customers who have been forced to stay home because of lockdowns. 

Branches in 90 regional locations will serve the local communities in the morning and shut their doors in the afternoon so staff can work at CBA’s contact centres which are receiving more than a million increasingly complex customer inquiries every month.  

The new system of shorter branch hours will start mid-September as the bank continues to deal with the impact of an escalating health crisis on customers. 

CBA’S executive general manager for the customer service network, Mark Jones, said the change showed how the bank was adapting to meet the needs of customers while also retaining jobs in regional communities. 

“We understand these changes may be an adjustment for some of our customers, and the team at their local branch will continue to be available to help them find the solutions that best suit their needs,” he said. 

The banking executive said while the coronavirus pandemic has not changed how CBA determines its branch footprint and services, this period has accelerated the continuing shift in customer preferences towards digital and contact centre services.  

Increase in online banking 

In recent years, there has been a big increase in customers self-serving on the app or via NetBank, with CBA now serving 7.5 million digitally active customers. 

Jones noted that older customers have moved to actively engage with CBA online. In a monthly comparison during 2020, more than twice as many customers over 60 accessed NetBank or the CommBank app compared to those who visited a branch in the preceding three-month period. 

“We’re concentrating on offering a range of different but complementary options for millions of Australians to complete their everyday banking, including our branches, Bank@Post, our Australian-based contact centres, ATMs, and our digital services,” he added. 

“We’re expanding our Australian-based contact centre network from five dedicated locations to over 90 communities across the country while keeping a physical banking presence in regional communities.” 

Outside of these new trading hours, Bank@Post will continue to be available at 3,500 Australia Post outlets for customers who prefer face-to-face banking services. 

CBA recently renewed its 110-year partnership with Australia Post until 2032, so both personal and business customers can make withdrawals, deposits, and bill payments, including passbooks, during normal business hours. 

All 90 local communities impacted by the shorter hours already have 24/7 access to CBA ATMs, which will remain available. 

Each year CBA invests around $50 million in its branch network, to upgrade and refurbish existing branches and open new branches where there is customer demand.