Long Live the Branch (Experience)!
80% of Millennials say they want the option to visit a bank and online Iam Bank is busy buying bank networks in the USA after 70% of their customers said they want a branch too. The future of the branch is looking very positive. Experience is the primary differentiation factor when it comes to the retail bank branches. So it’s not surprising there was lots of talk about this at RBR Branch Transformation 2017.
The golden thread running through this two-day event is that we need to think in a wider context than just managing money in order to stay relevant to customers.
Of course optimisation is still top of mind in established markets, but there’s also an opportunity become more relevant. It’s about developing an ecosystem proposition – whether that’s geographical, family, tribal, commercial, or a combination of some/all of them. The challenge is to then deliver that ecosystem proposition through a unique experience. Get it right and everyone can prosper. ‘Define the branch purpose before anything else’ sounds easy, but that means first you need to really, really interrogate what customers want and need, and create your proposition around that.
Customer satisfaction primarily relates to problem solving and engagement on an emotional level. So there are three opportunities for the branch:
- Continue to deliver on the everyday essentials
- Develop Community 2.0 (local, interest, sector)
- Establish a life-long reason to stay connected
Having been temporarily usurped by ambitions and expectations for technology, relationships are back in the centre of delivering customer satisfaction in the branch experience. We’ve discussed the importance of your people in the past and at the event, one speaker stated that human interaction is now more valuable than ever to both the customer and the bank because it’s become such a rarity.
Recognition that customers compare their retail experiences across all sectors is tantamount – and with that comes the realisation that retail banking needs to step up in terms of service levels and staff interaction. Your people need to be naturally outgoing, problem-solvers, comfortable in the banking hall and know how to deal with multiple platforms. And you need to be clear on roles and responsibilities, providing them with the tools and authority to flourish. Choreography is an essential ingredient for success.
We mustn’t forget the thorny issue of trust. It’s still not high. Combine that with the fact that just because someone is digitally savvy doesn’t mean they’re financially savvy, and we’re storing up big problems. Whilst it’s true that Gen X, Gen Z, and Millennials might access online reviews on financial services (like they do for Uber/Trip Advisor), most still go to family first for financial advice. But talk to their parents and only 16% feel they have what it takes to provide sound guidance!
So any future branch design must acknowledge we’re in the middle of the 4th industrial revolution, in an era of disruption. Recognise the need for constant shift and change – it’s a mindset that needs to be applied to every facet of the branch proposition. Evolve, try out ideas, embrace change, and recognise that the occasional mistake may happen – all very refreshingly un-banklike!