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Retail Bank Branch Transformation Strategy: It's Do or Die

Decades ago, the idea that bank branches would ever be irrelevant would have been laughable. After all, there was no other way for people to secure and manage their money - except for maybe tucking it into a mattress.

Today, however, the same technology that makes consumer banking more convenient simultaneously threatens the very existence of traditional bank and credit union branches. But financial institutions aren't going down without a fight. Instead of waving the white flag of defeat, many banks are seeking ways to reinvigorate their branches and refine their services for today's consumers.

Because customer preferences vary significantly, there's no one-size-fits-all solution. Banks must explore the options for transforming their branches to find solutions that address their needs and most effectively enhance customer experience.

Omnichannel banking

There are many channels of communication with modern financial institutions. And customers want to use all of them… seamlessly… at the same time. Omnichannel solutions make this possible.

An omnichannel approach to customer support, and banking in general, is an improvement on the multi-channel model. A multi-channel approach allows customers to freely use all of the different available channels, but their interactions on each channel remain relegated to that channel. With omnichannel support, all communications and transactions are combined into one comprehensive customer history. The process is captured and communicated across every channel for a seamless experience.

This means, for example, that a customer can start a loan application online, continue it over the phone and conclude it at the bank branch - without having to explain multiple times what he is trying to accomplish.

Merging traditional and digital channels into one stream of communication not only increases convenience but is also critical for unified messaging. And most importantly, customers love it.

Universal banker model

However helpful and polite they may be, traditional tellers can only perform a few types of transactions. This can be frustrating for customers, who must deal with multiple people when they need assistance with a variety of services. Many banks are addressing this problem with a modern construct: the universal banker model.

Under this model, bank associates are cross-trained in a variety of tasks and are prepared to provide comparable financial insights. This ensures that anyone can service a customer and assist them with all or most of their desired financial functions.

Universal bankers foster a culture of customer support and improve customer satisfaction. A highly functional universal banker, trained and versed in your products and services, is in perfect position to strengthen customer relationships by adding value to every transaction.

Strategic Location Planning

Banks have always done their homework before opening new branches, but thanks to the availability of up-to-the-minute data, this research is now much easier and more accurate.

Now banks can use location data, generated by online and mobile banking, to pinpoint where customers want them to be. By using these business insights to expand into just the right neighborhoods, these banks can put themselves more easily within reach of their largest customer clusters.

And innovative solutions like shared tenancy can allow banks to retain prime locations while operating them at significantly reduced cost. By partnering with other retailers in shared tenancy agreements, banks can subdivide the space with another business that also brings in foot traffic such as the U.S. Postal Service, professional services or shipping locations.

Technology Tools

Many customers are comfortable using technology. Along with the traditional ATM, banks are outfitting their branches with additional self-service kiosks. These devices offer enhanced capabilities, allowing customers to perform more of their transactions in self-service fashion.

To improve customer experience, banks are also adopting new technologies for employee use. Cash automation devices like cash recyclers can speed transaction times, increase accuracy and improve security. Using tablets is also another engagement strategy that can transform customer experience in the bank branch.

With careful consideration and investment in technology-fueled enhancements, banks and credit unions can effectively increase customer engagement and transform branches into customer education and service centers.