Meet Your New Bank
Most banks have been reluctant to make big bets on a next generation branch concept. Yet, as high-profile global banking brands with billion-dollar tech innovation budgets see opportunities to acquire your best digital customers without investing in physical networks; time and options may be running out.
Facing off with these interlopers in the cloud, where scale and massive internal IT teams give them home field advantage, may not be a viable path. Instead, our suggestion is to look at elements of your brand, core competencies and human capital to amplify points of leverage that already distinguish your bank from national franchises in the eyes of local consumer and small business customers.
Try Building A New Value Proposition For Your Branch
Rather than playing defense, we advised that our clients go on the offensive with a model that introduces old customers to a new branch designed to propel them towards financial success. More choreography than physical architecture, this approach weaves a new playbook for frontline staff into a retail journey composed of touchpoints that embody the bank’s competencies and commitment to long-term, rewarding relationships.
Step One: Pivot perceptions about the branch experience, from efficient transaction clearinghouse to valued source of tailored advice. One option, install engaging, interactive features that help customers solve real problems and spark rewarding conversations with bankers. Solutions like this are flexible enough to fit multiple, unique branch footprints and allow for incremental rollouts without disrupting ongoing operations.
Step Two: Redesign associate behaviors to align with your new journey map and reinforce the branch value proposition. What bankers say to customers and how they guide them through the journey must reflect your core value statements. Make sure every move isn’t perceived as a thinly veiled product pitch by tying plays back to core value statements like “Your success is our primary mission”, or “We must earn your trust”.
Step Three: Let everyone know what you’ve done. Tell customers that you’ve paired your investment in easy, convenient digital channels with a new, human powered resource for support and smart conversations with experts. Tell your frontline “brand ambassadors” that they are now advisors, not sales people, and that real product the bank sells is the benefit of a long-term, trust-based relationship.
New branch KPIs reflect a new mission, focused on customer loyalty and revenue growth not teller wait times; your branches deliver higher NPS results for more households that also purchase more products in their local branch. More importantly, the branch experience is one that customers brag about to family, friends and business associates.
Build a Better Branch
Now that that your investment in digital channels is getting traction, it’s time to transform the way you serve customers in the physical realm. Data shows that 70-80% of your digitally engaged customers still come to the branch about once a month to execute common transactions. While disappointing, this behavior represents a unique opportunity to showcase the elements of a branch visit that the digital experience cannot replicate.
How? - Focus On What Customers Want
Our suggestion, make two simple moves:
First, to the greatest extend possible, forget everything you know, or knew, about branch banking.
Second, begin thinking about the branch as a component of a larger relationship with customers who don’t recognize channel and LOB boundaries.
We suggest clients start their pursuit of a better branch by listing the things that make the most difference to their best customers as they pursue financial objectives. Then zero in on the things these customers believe branches deliver better than any other channel. Aligning points at which these criteria intersect with the bank’s growth objectives will unveil the DNA of your Better Branch experience.
The next step, turn your findings into a problem statement that will guide strategy formulation. To do this, join branch stakeholders in a fast-paced, collaborative process. It is critical that this team stay focused on adding value that compliments investments in other channels and creating points of difference the brand can own for a reasonable period. A facilitator who understands both stakeholder perspectives and retail experience design can keep participants on target and accelerate success.
The product of these efforts is an intent document on which everything from the business case to the brief for architects and brand communications agencies will be based. Because the intent is not only grounded in bank and customer benefit, but also the product of the collaboration between stakeholders who will be responsible for; it is well positioned for success. Too often, when this critical step is skipped, execution teams set off in the wrong direction spending time and human capital that cannot be unspent.
Consumers enjoy an upgraded bank experience. By shifting the focus from expense reduction to customer support and empowerment, the bank becomes much more than a safe place to store cash in the eyes of loyal customers. These stronger personal connections with customers translate in to rising product sales and less preasure to be a price leader.
Use High-tech to support High-touch
We are seeing a lot of new technology in the branch as banks develop Next Generation prototypes that promise a transformed banking experience in retail locations. However, customers are telling us that they don’t come into a branch for more technology. What consumers and small businesses do want when they visit the branch is the kind of dynamic dialogue and personal insight they can’t get from A.I. powered chat bots or robo-advisors.
Smarter Conversations, Better Connections
Pivot away from high tech and toward high touch. We propose remaking the branch as a showroom that empowers associates to present clients with opportunities to build a bright financial future.
Make no mistake, the technology is still there, but plays a supporting role, enabling branch associates to intelligently respond to a broad spectrum of client questions and concerns questions on the spot. More importantly, CRM technology will ensure thorough follow-up on every branch encounter and surface opportunities to invite clients back to the branch.
The next generation of branch technology will also support associates understanding of rapidly evolving customer needs and market conditions through continuous stream of engaging training materials diced up into short Kahn Academy style videos.
Leveraging the On Stage/Off Stage concept that made Disney theme parks an unrivalled global success. Create a lobby experience that put the bankers on-stage, front and center, where they can greet customers, connect on a personal level that builds trust and loyalty, while serving up intelligent, relevant solutions thanks to their real time access to the banks robust knowledge stream.
Consumers that are happier with their upgraded banking relationship. Not only have the pain points of the traditional branch experience been removed, they are happy to see the increase in support for their local bankers with whom they have a personal connection. Bottom line; the bank discovers how the personal touch, augmented with technology, makes it easier to introduce new products and close sales.
Think More Like a Retailer