Brick-and-mortar bank branch: what comes after the digital revolution
While many retail verticals today are experiencing the digital revolution, few have been affected as much as retail banking. Globally, more than half of consumer banking interaction has happened online or via mobile this year. While this trend allows the banks to optimize expenses on brick-and-mortar service, the physical bank branches are still an important part of the user journey. Customers today expect to use the banking channel of their choice where and when it suits them.
We continually benchmark the best in class retail bank operations across the globe and at Westpac Australia, a new branch format is emerging. In this article, we present new design ideas and branch formats to inspire management teams to consider re-engineering the point of purchase.
Here are a few important trends for bank branch design in the digital era:
A variety of branch formats
Customers today vary not only in their banking needs but in the ways they prefer to interact with the bank. Premium customers and businesses with complex needs require personal interaction with bank experts in secure and private environments. “Gen-X” and “Gen-Y and Z” users come to the bank branch in search of financial advice and to shop for the best banking products on the market. For “baby-boomers” a visit to a bank is a social experience with added psychological value. Banks today resort to creating a complex network of different branch formats. Typically, this means maintaining a flagship “hub” branch that serves as a venue for expert advice and personal interaction and supplementing it through a network of smaller branches with semi-automated services and yet another network of kiosks with no on-site staff. Each of the branch formats is usually tied to locations with a high density of respective target audience. While working with Barclay's Bank, HSBC or Russian “VTB-24”, we have analyzed a multitude of customer data to develop and perfect branch formats for various needs - from a “hub” branch to an in-store self-service point.
Emphasis on customer relationships
In today's competitive banking market the design, look and feel of a retail branch create a competitive advantage by emphasizing trust and personal relationships with consumers. As clients get accustomed to handling simple transactions online, they expect their brick-and-mortar experience to be not just seamless, but pleasant and social, similar to the ones they have while going for a coffee or staying at a hotel. Banks are transforming their flagship branches into lounges with Wi-Fi access, coffee machines, a financial library and even “community zones” that are open for local groups to hold their finance-related meetings. The newest trends in branch floor planning imply getting rid of classic teller windows and queue lines in favour of an open-space approach with informal seated teller stations, placed at various locations throughout the branch. While designing interior spaces for the modern banks, our design teams draw inspiration from various verticals, such as cafes, electronic shops and even fashion stores to create added value for the customers.
Touch-points for omnichannel banking
The best strategy for the bank in the digital age is to usher customers to use digital channels for simple transactions and to utilize the physical branch to showcase complex products and give expert advice. To achieve this goal, physical branches have to be designed with segmentation in mind. From the entrance to a final good-buy, we create customer journeys throughout the branch that leads each customer to the optimal point-of-contact – from an ATM to the online banking station, from a staff-assisted automatic teller-tower to a private luxury of a conference room.
The “Digital Arch" at the Promsvyazbank Mega Shopping Centre, which is on the way to Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, was conceived as a highly visible pop-up branch in the main mall of the centre. The aim was to boost brand recognition, to underline digital appeal and serve as an impulse-purchase banking point where passers-by could get instant loans.
When the management team of the leading commercial bank in Russia, Promsvyazbank invested in our design and format planning services they discovered it was 15% cheaper to implement our new concept compared with previous turnkey contractor appointments and in addition the Net Promoter Score index, indicated that customer loyalty moved up from 10th position to 5th position (Please see the Promsvyazbank case study for the before and after pictures).
Why not call and talk to us about your branch retail formats, digital branding and social media requirement.