Last week, our team was honored to present and attend at the Future Branches Conference in San Diego. This conference featured some of the most in-depth concepts and best-practices in the financial services sector today. Our topic at Future Branches was to share our insights about the role of the customer journey within the financial services industry and provide actionable intelligence for attendees to take back to their institutions.
What was important for us to share was data and statistics that point back to the need for change while helping bankers and credit unions start to develop a roadmap for how to establish their own future branch. We wanted our presentation to be both content-rich and provocative, challenging assumptions about the way banks and credit unions have always serviced customers. Steve Goldring, CEO of Worldwide Business Research, expanded on the presentation, “The Creating a Universal Experience keynote that Gina and Sean presented at Future Branches provided valuable, practical guidelines and concepts that attendees could put to use right away. In just 20-minutes, they were able to deliver a roadmap that was insightful and impactful. Using compelling statistics and true trends, Adrenaline motivated the audience to get to work right away to transform their institutions to meet modern-day consumer demands.” The needed shift toward a resilient “future branch” will incorporate a new way of interacting with a laser beam focused on what the customer wants out of these interactions, instead of what the financial institution wants.
While it’s true that most customers are not happy with the branch experience according to a Bain/Research Now US NPS survey, financial institutions should not overlook the power of the branch channel. Branch banking is not dead; it’s just different. Overall branches in the U.S. are on the decline, but that doesn’t mean that the branch will go the way of the dodo. In fact, branch openings are actually on the rise in concentrated population areas. But, why?
Yes, consumers do report that a branch is a lot more likely to annoy than delight. But the reality is is that customers still prefer to conduct more sensitive, valuable transactions in person. Further, branches remain the #1 source of new customer acquisition, so there is a great opportunity for engagement and enrichment. But retooling the branch environment alone won’t address the enormous disruption the banking and financial sectors are experiencing.
Universal banking removes the physical barriers between bankers and customers, creating a collaborative space that results in bottom line benefits. Banks can expect to see reduced staffing costs, enhanced cross-selling ratios, increased employee satisfaction and improved staff aptitude. While these savings are not insignificant, the most important benefit is improved customer satisfaction, net promoter scores and advocacy.
For the best deployment of the universal banker, banks should zone the branch experience based on purpose: attract, engage, consult, and transact. Once these zones are established, banks then develop paths and points of experience to deliver with a purpose.
Once the physical environment has been built, banks must then create life inside those walls and that starts and ends with trained, committed employees. The universal banker role is a big move away from the traditional banker approach with newly cross-trained employees equally balancing customer service and sales. The universal banker deployment requires skills and a branch environment, but even more importantly, is the requisite culture transformation. This cultural impact is arguably the most important element of the universal experience.
Binding together all of the people, places and processes requires an organizational culture that is dedicated to the new roles and responsibilities and supportive of the people making the magic happen on the front lines. These new ethos may be a quantum leap from how the bank operated in the past, but creating a thriving and sustainable culture is critical for banks in strengthening and sustaining this entirely new way of doing business in a future branch.
For more details about the universal transformation and the path toward deployment, download our “Creating A Universal Experience White Paper” and keep the conversation going by using #universalexperience and #futurebranches.