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Post-COVID Relationship Banking at the Branch
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by REBECCA DOEPKE

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Using safety standards and staff behaviors to build trust and deepen consumer connections for a better consultative experience

As bank branches undertake their Post-COVID reopening process, how to prepare frontline staff members to support and sustain safety standards and strengthen new behaviors continues to be one of banking’s biggest challenges. According to Juliet D’Ambrosio, Adrenaline’s Senior Director of Strategy, in this week’s Ask an Expert, “Your employees and your employees’ experiences are as important as your outside audience. They need to know where you stand and what actions you’re taking, so they can then advocate that and that employee experience translates into customer experience which then translates into brand experience.” 

While specifically addressing brands taking a stand in our current environment – a global pandemic amplified by widespread social unrest – the principle of embracing employees as critical to customer and brand experience is also foundational to fostering trust and consumer confidence, something particularly important as bank branches reopen. Leveraging well-trained staff for safety, support, and service inside the branch will help ensure that reopened branches ease rather than enhance people’s fear, by showing actions the bank is taking to ensure safe post-COVID operations. As behavioral science shows, taking proactive steps is critical to overcoming fear. 

Post-COVID Relationship Banking at the Branch

Post-COVID Staff Training

In our new COVID normal, people will have to adapt and adopt new behaviors to ensure they stay safe. While there is comfort in reverting back to prior habits, all brands with physical channels will have to find ways to support behavior change. Given that social behaviors are informed by learned experiences and proxemics, banks will need ongoing sustainment efforts. Gina Bleedorn, Chief Experience Officer, says Adrenaline developed video training modules to help staff members begin that change. “For our clients, our immediate focus was on signage and visual cues to prompt people to begin behaving differently, but we quickly realized that in order to really shift consumer behavior,  banks would need staff training and engagement tools and tactics.” 

Post-COVID Relationship Banking at the Branch

Given what we know about public health directives at the moment, there is some universality around the way bank branches and retail stores will have to function operationally as consumers come back inside. Frontline Training modules around these new social behaviors that are safety-oriented is the first step to creating the new bank branch environment. But there is also a secondary step that will empower staff to take advantage of opportunities that the branch does so well. Since nearly eight of ten relationships are started at the branch, supporting staff consultation and advice-oriented service will be critical and customized to each branch environment. 

Building Relationships

Even before COVID, the branch banking channel was the locus of relationship banking. It’s where most bank affiliations begin and undoubtedly where they are sustained. While consumers certainly want digital convenience – especially in these times of remote and socially distanced transactions – when they want financial advice, they will undoubtedly turn back to the human connections at the branch. Even human-powered smart ITMs deliver on the need for localization and consultation that the branch provides. In short, the branch banking channel fulfills that need for human-to-human contact as a vital financial lifeline for consumers now and into the future.

Gina Bleedorn says, “In training staff in the post-COVID environment, we knew that the majority of banks are solving for the same challenge – operational safety – and these modules help supplement and support the training HR departments are providing.” But staff safety training paves the way for deeper consumer relationships. According to Gina, “Once safety measures are in place and understood through the lens of empathy, bank staff can get to what really matters, which is actually having consultative conversations. This dialogue helps build customer trust around what you can provide them, not just that they're safe.” 

Post-COVID Relationship Banking at the Branch

For more information on bank branch reopening in the post-COVID landscape, download our Roadmap to Reopening and pre-purchase our Frontline Staff Training. If you are a financial institution needing advice and expertise now, you can contact Adrenaline’s financial services experts at covidready@adrenalineagency.com or call (678) 412-6903. If you’d like to speak with one of our financial industry experts, contact us at info@adrenalineagency.com




Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.

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