Building a bank today might require a refocus on resources as the country prepares for the future post-pandemic. In today's climate, bankers might decide to double-down on offerings or explore creative ways to engage their communities through outreach and partnerships.
Building a new bank branch has always been a labor and cost-intensive process, and as the years have gone by it might seem as if the risk (and the expense) have only gone up. But what I see is an increase in the evidence for what works and what leads to branch failure. Operating a successful branch requires an understanding of the customer experience. After all, when a customer comes in for a new loan, to renew a line-of-credit, a new accounts or support, they have a memorable experience worth repeating.
According to data from PwC Global, 61 percent of bankers say a customer-centric business model is "very important" yet only 17 percent are "very prepared for it."
What does that mean?
It’s easy for banks to say they’re focused on providing a great customer experience, but if pressed to explain in further detail, they might not find their words as easily as you, or they, hope. But know this, providing a great customer experience begins with understanding the explicit details of the experience you plan to deliver.
When you’re looking to define and outline the customer experience for your branch—note that I didn’t say “a branch”—it starts with a question: What are your customers (or what will your customers) come to your physical location for? How can their needs be met and perhaps, what will encourage them to view visiting a physical branch as the necessary step to take for their financial needs?
Are Brick-and-Mortar Banks Still Relevant?
Very much so.
While online banking and financial apps put meeting day-to-day banking needs in the palm of customers’ hands, physical bank buildings still fulfill a unique need in today's hyper-digital world: human touch.
The topic of financials is one that can be highly emotional. Certain instances arise—and arise often—that lead people to need support and insight from their financial resources and that support is often sought out in person.
While brick-and-mortar bank locations are truly the only way to engage in person-to-customer needs, it does comprise a much smaller portion of in-person business than it used to. Still, nearly 60 percent of traditional banking products are still being sold at a physical branch location.
It turns out that more complex transactions are drawing customer visitors to physical branch locations. Some examples of these transactions include:
- Consumer, Business and AG Lending
- Insurance, Investment and Wealth Management Services
- New Accounts
- Line-of-Credit (Renewals)
- Notary Services
While the way customers use your bank will vary based on numerous variables, these ideas and examples should help you get thinking in the right direction.
You might be asking yourself, “Don’t online-only banks offer these things digitally as well?” Sure, some do. It might be appropriate given their physical location, customer base and additional factors, but the reality is that high-margin products are more successful when combined with person-to-person interaction.
You just can't replicate the human touch digitally or across a mobile platform.
The Bank Branch of the Future
There’s a shift taking place right now that has banks adapting to new opportunities to serve customers via digital channels. As this trend will continue to grow in the coming years, it’s essential that banks consider this shift in financial industry technology as they design new spaces. Whether working on a new construction project or a remodel of an existing branch, keeping technology evolution in mind will help you create a banking experience that is focused on meeting customer needs for those more complex solutions and services. The branch of the future is changing from "transaction-based" to "relationship-based".
Options in Bank Branch Design
Understanding your customers—both current and future—will help you to choose the best design. There are new and existing branch models available to choose from. Plus, hybrid options allow for combining different aspects from various models to create something truly unique. Before starting your building or remodeling project, working with an expert in bank architecture can ensure you start (and end) on the right foot.
Here's to building the best bank branch your customers deserve ... and want to visit in person for years to come.