Mixing up the branch network for future banking services (Part 2)

The general consensus is that a bank can reach 80% of its customers through strategically located branches.

Mixing up the branch network for future banking services (Part 2)

Truly understanding the geographic and demographic make-up of your customer base and overlaying this with an assessment of segment needs is a great starting point for evolving a bank’s branch network.

With this information at hand, financial institutions can start to create customer experiences that match the needs of customers in each location. This could range from personalised services which offer high-end advice on financial products or day-to-day transactional tasks that require speed and convenience.

This re-assessment of formats and locations is giving rise to new types of branches, as financial organisations look for new ways to use space, deploy new technologies, provide cross-channel services and create a better customer experience.

At one end of the scale express and ‘pop-up’ branches are offering flexible services in high footfall locations, such as in train stations, airports and shopping centres. With a focus on small branch footprints and high levels of automation, these should be strategically placed to offer fast, convenient transactions at times which suit the customer.

At the other end of the scale, banks are also investing in flagship branches that promote their brand with a clear focus on offering a premium, personalised customer service, as well as introducing new offerings through self-service technology. There are a wide range of examples of alluring new formats, including cafe-style branches that entice the customer with a fundamentally different customer experience whilst enabling staff to have value added conversations.

Delivering enhanced customer experience

As the only physical channel with face-to-face interaction, the branch presents a number of opportunities to positively influence the customer and reinforce key brand messages. Retail studies show how enticing customers into physical outlets has a positive impact on sales success and net promotor scores and banks should be looking to achieve the same.

Many financial institutions have already taken away the traditional glass wall barrier between staff and customers and are focusing more on human interaction. This a crucial element of the customer journey and should be considered as a fundamental part of strategic branch planning and design.

Technological advances have also played a significant role in branch transformation plans and will continue to be an enabler for new processes, services and ultimately the overall customer’s experience. Bank branches will continually adapt as digital technologies advance and the only way to provide a seamless customer experience is to ensure channel technology comes closer together.

Getting the right mix of flagship sites and community-focused branches, which provide full-service capabilities and act as advisory and engagement hubs for financial advice, combined with express branches that offer speed and convenience for transactional services, is important to achieving an optimised and sustainable branch network for the future.