Transforming Your Branch: How and Where to Begin

U.S. bank branches have changed. So too has the way customers interact with their banks of choice, and their local branches. And more changes are on the horizon.

While more than 10,000 brick-and-mortar bank branches have closed their doors since the financial crisis of the late 2000s, an average of three per day, the U.S. still remains home to roughly 90,000 bank branches, allowing customers to have a location within reach–typically just two miles away. More and more customers may be turning to digital methods to complete their financial transactions and to even receive advice from their personal banker or institution, but research shows a significant percentage of customers still prefer their local branches for at least some banking needs. A 2018 J.D. Power survey revealed that 71% of millennials use a branch an average of 11 times per year and the most recent Cornerstone Performance Report shows 90% of accounts are still opened in branches, leaving them essential to bank operations.

Changes in banking habits and technology don’t spell the end for branch banking. Rather, they indicate the need for ongoing branch transformations. Look no further than to an airline ticket counter or an AT&T store for recent examples of changing customer interactions and experiences. No longer does a traveler need to visit a ticket counter to obtain travel documents or check a bag. Now, technology has enabled a seamless and simple process that saves customers time and reduces airline required staffing levels. AT&T stores offer lounge-style environments with digital welcome screens and roaming employees with a holistic view of their customer’s products, history, and interactions all easily accessible via tablet.

Continued upgrades across banking technology, software, and systems have advanced customer’s expectations and taught them the value of an omnichannel banking experience, now making that the preferred customer experience. This expectation of a streamlined and simple customer experience leaves bank operations and management teams to consider the best strategies in transforming their branches to deliver the very best customer experience across both advisory and sales, to exceed customers’ expectations.

Indeed, when done right, the transformation of bank branches allows for the acceleration of growth and operations from reduced staffing, lower real estate

requirements, and altered customer interactions using targeted customer relationship management.

Where to Begin?

Branch transformations take form in a number of ways, from overall physical branch design to the hardware and software used by staff and customers. At The RWC Group, we embark upon branch transformation projects with discovery – beginning with a review of the bank’s core mission and values, bank structure, and strategic initiatives to build a tailored 360-degree plan of transformation to ensure overall success.

4 Questions to Consider:

1. How have your customers’ expectations and behaviors changed and what will they expect in five years?

2. How has your branch delivered on those new behaviors? What does your bank look like in five years?

3. Are your branches prepared for the digital age of banking? What technology improvements have been implemented and what is still needed?

4. How are you developing your strategy for the future? Where are you going?

Parts 2 and 3 of this series will focus on physical branch design and the technology, software, systems, and necessary training and change management required for transformation.

Submit your information above to receive an email notification when parts 2 and 3 of this series are live and connect with us on LinkedIn and Facebook for future content series, trends, and industry information. Click here for access to our previous article, “Clear & Concise: Winning Customer Experience During a System Conversion or Upgrade.”

The RWC Group’s expert team can provide a road map for branch transformation development and implementation, improve customer experience, and increase bank productivity and efficiency. We’re ready to partner with you to develop and implement a customized strategy that transforms your branches and meets the unique needs and culture of your bank.