We are observing increases in consumer and commercial loan activity and new branch growth and ‘coming out of the downturn’. So how do you plan to capitalize on the changing customer desire? What percentage of product and relationship growth still happens at the branch versus other channels? The answer is still that most relationships start at the branch before migrating to other channels and they typically grow at the branch as well.
Branch of the Future Concept
This is all certainly positive and we all want (and need) to see more of it. When our conversations turn to growth of the FI at the community level whether a net new location into a new market or performing a refresh of an existing branch, it often includes conversations about taking advantage of all this ‘Branch of the Future stuff’. We have met with financial institutions who are doing their homework and are often well versed in all the benefits moving to this new type of retail branch experience. They have some high level experience, but still require some guidance on how the concept is brought to life with the right mix of services, staff, branch layout and specialized equipment.
The Branch of Reliablity
We view ‘Branch of the Future’ not as simply new carpets, flat panel displays, mood lighting and a Keurig machine in the lobby, but as more the Branch of reliable future profitability, sales, deeper customer experiences with more dynamic services they can choose from and reinforcement of the customer brand experience that your financial institution has worked for decades to build. Also, there is the importance of planning for how existing staff adjusts procedures, processes and behaviors and how your company will find and obtain tellers that will operate, behave and feel different than in years past. So with all this in mind, what do you need to know about Branch of the Future? Here are some guidelines:
- Technology is a support platform for your branch staff not a replacement
- The focus can be more on the expansion of customer relationships
- Services like check cashing, cash presentment and deposits are becoming device driven
- Requirements for traditional branch equipment are alleviated (e.g. traditional vaults)
- FTE and staffing challenges (and costs) are greatly mitigated and streamlined
- Traditional branch physical construction costs are often reduced.
- Existing branches can recognize operational and cost improvements through retrofitting
Branches can now be smaller, leaner and hyper-focused on the end user experience. Time spent wasted on processing transactions can be put towards greeting customers and aiming to meet their needs in the best way possible. Most of these customers will then turn around and reward you with their loyalty and additional products utilized leading to greater profitability for you as the institution. You can read more about branch transformation in our article, 3 Reasons Financial Institutions Need Change.