Saturday morning. You have breakfast, watch some television and then head out to do some errands, which includes going to your local bank branch for whatever transactions need to be done for the week. Or do you? These days, most banking transactions can be done online. According to Forbes, 80% of retail banking customer interactions happen online. So are people even going to a bank branch anymore?
Some studies are saying that a majority of retail customers have visited a branch in the last six months. People still want to go into a bank branch for complex business like loans or if they want financial advice. The ability to have a personal connection with an expert is still important to people for certain aspects of their banking needs.
Bank of America is great example. They have closed hundreds of branches in the last two years because they claim that they are making a major shift to mobile banking. They have more than 17.6 million customers that are actively using the mobile platform. On the other hand, customers are also using mobile banking to book over 10,000 appointments to meet with branch personnel each week. So closing branches might not be the answer, so much as evolving them to meet the needs of a new consumer.
Solidus, a business space solutions firm has been pioneering branch transformations in the New England area. They are seeing a trend toward more open branches with “roaming” agents known as universal bankers that greet branch visitors as they enter. Those customers that still choose to come into the branch for transactions now find themselves exposed to deeper engagement with universal bankers, and the opportunity to invest in new products and services presents itself. This transformation is affected not just by branch design but by technology as well. Cash recyclers are now used at staff stations, machines that are able to process banknotes at terrific speed. This frees up the universal banker’s time and enables them to interact more with the customer. Financial advice and consultancy has become a central focus, as customers invest in broader services with their financial institutions, leading to greater brand loyalty.
So where will your bank branch go? Probably nowhere for now. Customers from multiple generations still see the traditional space as a place they can go to for their financial needs. But banks will have to re-evaluate how their local branches meet those needs if they want to continue to grow their business.