In the first blog in this series, we described trends pushing banks toward a new model for their physical presence.  This model will be designed to meet customers’ changing expectations and provide them with an experience they’ll come back for – a model we’ve termed the “Experience Store.”

The branch networks embracing the “Experience Store” model will share eight vital attributes or functions, with the balance among these features varying widely, depending on each store’s location, function and target customers.

These first four of these include:

1. Showcase products and provide complex advice. The physical retail space offered by banks must evolve radically, from the traditional banking hall to a place where customers can experience the products and services offered by the bank and the companies it collaborates with.

This will involve four distinct activities:

  • Brand awareness and community building – Co-working with local SMEs while collecting data to improve products
  • Advisory and customer acquisition – Managing conversations on wealth creation and providing detailed guidance and advice
  • Engagement and education – Providing digital and financial education along with access to partner products while helping customers manage their overall finances
  • Help and self-initiated services – Including self-service problem resolution, digital “debugs” and account management as a “last line of defense”

2. Operate as an integrated component of the overall channel strategy. As mobile becomes the default primary contact channel for day-to-day sales and service across all retail banks, mobile apps will smooth the customer’s path to other channels, by enabling hand-offs in which the customer is already recognized, and their needs understood. Physical stores will humanize this experience as staff focus on more complex face-to-face interactions like advice, customer care/relationship-building, and complaints and/or issue resolution. Store processes will have to evolve to support multi-stage task management, cross-channel referrals, appointment-booking – including virtual wait-time management – and authentication across integrated channels.

3. Lead with experience. Many banks are making investments to improve the in-branch customer experience. In the experience store network of the future, three innovations will have a particularly powerful impact on the customer experience:

  • Community spaces – These are places for the community to use that are open, inclusive and allow businesses and customer groups to meet and engage
  • Meaningful Digital tools – Available throughout the branch, these tools will allow customers and staff to have digitally-enabled conversations at a “Genius Bar”, banks should resist to introduce technology for the sake of technology and focus on capabilities that will facilitate and augment human-to-human interactions
  • Blended retail areas – As banking and retail services such as cafés, co-working spaces come together, experience stores will evolve into blended retail spaces that will increase the footfall attract more people into a single space.

4. Manage the territory, not the branch.  Experience stores result in a lighter branch footprint. This means maintaining or expanding the range of branch types in the network while reducing the size and number of branches, with three levels of stores emerging:

  • The “Experience Hub” – Highly visible flagship branches, typically medium-to-large, delivering the full branch experience to engage, retain and win customers.
  • The “Complement” store – Typically smaller branches that support the retention of existing customers in a re-sized micro-market format, with the product and/or service focus and modules varying based on local market needs such as digital, self-service or customer acquisition.
  • The “Satellite” – These will be pop-up or mobile branches and individual professionals working in a specific area with the goal of acquiring customers and selling products, reporting directly to their territory’s Experience Hub.

In the next blog in this series, we will look at four more key features of the Experience Store.  In the meantime, read our report to get more information about the ongoing transformation of the branch network.

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