Over the next decade the banking industry will experience a number of disruptions that will fundamentally change interactions between banks and customers. Succeeding in a changed competitive environment requires to offer a clear value proposition through all interaction channels. Hence, to be ready for the new market place, banks need to innovate their branch strategy and enhance their interaction with customers through the interplay of physical and online channels.
Strategically located flagship branches are the most innovative and often largest branches that draw attention to the brand and attract customers. Hence, they offer an excellent opportunity to achieve this and can serve as lighthouse projects for banks to showcase their innovative ways to interact with their customers.Over the next decade the banking industry will experience disruptions that will change interactions between banks and customers. For instance, today already 56% of Swiss citizens use the internet for online banking, and during the next decade, the number of European bank branches will decrease by 40%. Banks will need to prepare themselves for a quickly changing and increasingly competitive market in order to successfully differentiate themselves. Innovative flagship branches will be a key initiative to achieve that.
The location of a flagship branch is essential
Banks need to decide where they want to play with their flagship branches. The strategic location will be as important as the design and features of the branch itself. Where does most foot traffic occur? Where do most customers prefer the bank to be located? After picking a location, banks have to decide how they can best serve their customers. In the future, customers will have different expectations towards services and offerings of banks, forcing banks to accommodate for these expectations.
How to win the battle for the right positioning in the market
Focusing on creating a unique experience for customers will be of high importance for banks. Advances in technology allow customers to enhance their in-branch experience by interacting with their bank through personal or online channels, or through a mix of both. Creating this omni-channel experience for customers, who will be able to interchangeably use branches and online channels, will create a new feeling of loyalty. For example, the collaboration tool ‘Virtual Banker’ allows video conferencing services between customers in branches and remote bank advisors.
Flagship branches offer a great opportunity to create a positive and memorable hands-on experience that attracts customers and educates them on new products and services. In Switzerland, PostFinance uses objects such as tele-clickers and piggy banks to encourage a discussion with advisors.
Banks are more than ever required to showcase their brand values
Banks will need to tailor their offering to millennials’ needs. For instance, banks already started to design their branch lounges to be a place for the customers to come and unwind, just like in a real bar. Customers can drop in for a hot drink and a snack, use free Wi-Fi or one of the iPads, read a newspaper or magazine, or just sit and relax.
Additionally, the employees working in a flagship branch will have a different skill set and profile than employees working in banks today. They will need to be well-rounded professionals who have a versatile skill-set, meaning a combination of both soft and technical skills, to accommodate their customers’ new needs and demands on multiple channels and settings .
Start planning for your flagship branch today
To be ready for the new market place, banks need to innovate their channel strategy, in which their flagship branches will play a key role, and enhance their interaction with customers through the interplay of physical and online channels, which can be achieved through flagship branches. Banks need to decide what their winning aspiration is and develop a clear understanding of where and how they want to play with their flagship branches.