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By assessing the role of the branch, financial institutions can find new solutions for traditional banking models.  Transforming the branch allows FIs to make better decisions for account holders and improve the customer experience across the financial industry.

Part 1 of this blog series covered building the “why” for branch transformation while stepping into a post pandemic world and Part 2 introduced a potential solution to increase customer engagement. The final part dives deeper into how the Apple Store model could look for branches and paves the path toward branch reinvention in the new normal.

What does an Apple Store inspired branch look like?

The Apple Store engagement model proves to strengthen the account holder experience. As COVID-19 continues to make shifts across the financial industry, this tradition-breaking model embraces a hybrid solution. FIs can use this model with self-service solutions that support the branch staff. Here’s what the Apple model could look like in the branch.

Consultative selling. A new account holder or a seasoned customer walks into the branch lobby, and sees an open design featuring a station or table with devices displaying products and services. Prospects can pick up these devices and discuss functionality. Then branch staff can show them how different products work, ask questions about their needs and wants, and direct them to products and offerings that meet those needs.

Educating account holders. Create a regular schedule of classes or online webinars. Each session could be anything from demonstrations of how to use self-serve check ordering, paying bills online, or any number of “how-to” or “why” topics.

Problem solving in the branch. Create the equivalent to the Apple Genius Bar. Here, customers can make appointments to get help with whatever they need. They can solve problems like logging into their online accounts, how to open a new account, or even request a password reset. Branch staff can operate as on-hand financial and technical experts to help with customers’ needs.

Blend solutions that make sense  

According to a Deloitte Insights survey, financial institutions can find the right balance between brick-and-mortar and digital branch footprints. A key finding was blending human interaction with technology and about 33% of customers said they would be open to using branches more if financial institutions offered digital solutions that enhance convenience.

An example of how financial institutions could “blend” technology with human interaction is by offering self-serve check ordering. COVID-19 has proven moving check orders to self-service channels makes a FI’s check program more profitable and efficient. Here are some of the benefits to consider:

  • Normalizes touchless contact. The health and safety of your account holders and staff is an important step to branch health post COVID-19 and this method could become the best practice for your bank.
  • Improves branch efficiency. Branch bankers are free to focus more time on serving the financial needs of their account holders and less time on check-order data entry.
  • Increases check program profitability. According to Deluxe client data, self-service order channels average $10 higher than orders placed in the branch.
  • Streamlines account holder experience. Customers will enjoy an experience that feels a lot like being on Amazon or another online retailer.

Financial institutions can use solutions like self-serve check ordering to help transition branches into a hybrid model that blends the brick-and-mortar experience (like the Apple Store model) with digital methods. This is an easy way to help educate account holders on how to adopt new banking methods. To learn more about self-serve channels and the impact it will have on your branch and account holders, take a free assessment.

More fresh models for the branch

Aside from the Apple Store model and beyond decor and style of the interior, financial institutions are thinking outside of the box and moving from a traditional transaction-based model to a customer engagement model. Here’s what some branches are trying:

Digital cashless branch. These branches are quick, clean, modern, have no teller lines and offer more retail-like experiences. This is more of a self-service model where people can do their banking on tablets or ATMs.

Branch as a lab. These feature innovative, artsy furniture. They’re focused on engaging customers with education. The environment doesn’t have anything to do with transactions.

Community center. This looks like an upscale library with chairs and couches. There are tablets and video kiosks for people to use, areas to sit and work, and phone charging stations.

Micro branch. These are pods and look like glorified phone booths. They’re convenient and movable.

Mobile banker. This model is especially useful to serve your business customers and account holders. At a designated date and time, a mobile banking truck is driven and parked near local businesses and customers have an opportunity to bank until the truck moves on to the next site.

A co-branded branch. Across the country, branches are filling up their empty space with another business to create foot traffic. Starbucks, FedEx, UPS, a tax office, a cafe, anything that will get customers into the building.

Obviously, COVID-19 plays a huge role in how financial institutions can engage with customers and account holders in the new normal. Regardless of the pandemic’s evolving effects in the financial industry, FIs should keep some these factors in mind when assessing different types of models.

  • Consider reducing square footage. This allows for fewer employees and/or locations.
  • Feature tablets and other devices for transactions, video contact with specialized resources and video banking. It should look less like a traditional bank and more like an inviting, modern space.
  • Provide account holders and customers with a robust mobile and online experience to help them conduct basic transactions like reordering checks and deposits.

The next and final steps

COVID-19 has necessitated the urgency of transformation for financial institution branches—both in the way they look and the way it serves customers and account holders. When looking at the way a branch will operate in the new normal, consider these next steps:

  • Investigate models other FIs have adopted. A co-branded branch with a coffee shop? A mobile truck to service business clients?
  • Train and educate branch staff on consultative selling and self-service solutions to encourage account holders to shift their thinking of branches as problem solvers versus only about transactions.
  • Start to plan and create a regular series of classes (both online and in-branch) to educate customers and engage new account holders.

In an industry that has long been steered by tradition, change is never easy. From reimagining the role of branches to offering more digital solutions, FIs still play an integral role in an account holder’s banking experience and can ignite a new era of banking in the new normal.  This blog series has grounded the need and relevance of branch transformation and why financial institutions should consider reimagining the future of the branch.

Want to learn more? Gain more insights about building the case for branch transformation in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series.

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