Despite some recent reports about the death of bank branches, it’s clear that physical branches are still valued by consumers up and down the country. However, as customers demand more from their in-branch experience, financial institutions are having to
respond by reinventing new customer journeys more closely aligned with digital experiences and heightened customer expectations.
In the new world of banking, gone are the queues, tellers and glass partitions between customers and staff – now we are seeing open floors mapped around innovative technology alongside roaming employees delivering expert advice and enhanced customer services.
Re-invented branches like these are utilising advances in technology - whether that’s through automation, self-service, artificial intelligence or biometrics - as a means of supercharging the in-branch experience.
However, the ultimate fate of the branch relies on financial institutions creating meaningful in-branch journeys for staff, customers and cash. With customer experience and net promoter scores a vital part of successful delivery strategies, we conducted
a study to discover how consumers really feel about the future of branches in the digital age.
With the convenience of digital channels, we’ve all acknowledged that customers are visiting branches less now than in the recent past. Certainly, we have found that a large majority of customers have adopted online banking, and 85 per cent of those surveyed
have used online banking via a computer, laptop, tablet or a mobile banking app in the last six months.
However almost two-thirds of people value the fact that they can visit a physical branch. Access also appears relatively convenient with 59 per cent of people having a branch of the bank where they have their main personal current account within three miles
of their home or workplace.
A key finding from the study was that the branch is still valued by customers, and has an important role to play in the overall customer journey. Expert advice and one-to-one interaction is also crucial to successfully meeting consumer demands with nearly
two-thirds (63%) of people feeling that it's important that there will always be bank branch staff to speak with on financial matters.
New branch networks
It’s widely recognised that although branches have a critical place in a bank’s overall commerce strategy, they need to evolve from their traditional form. Accenture’s recent report on its
banking technology vision says that there is a “window of opportunity for banks to respond, incorporating the latest technology trends and repositioning their business models to be more competitive and sustainable in the digital economy.”
So far great strides have been made by financial institutions in transforming their branch networks in order to reshape the customer experience - for example by experimenting with a new mix of branch types, ranging from flagship innovation hubs to pop-up
self-service branches based in convenient locations.
As part of this evolution we’ve also seen brand new branch layouts, designed to make consumer journeys not only more convenient, but also more engaging. Indeed, we found that consumers are appreciative of such efforts with half (55%) agreeing that having
a bank with a branch design that is easy to navigate is important to improving their satisfaction as a customer. This shows that transforming branch networks to align with changing consumer demands, shifting demographics and increased competition can truly
help banks prepare for the future.
 On behalf of Diebold Nixdorf, Arlington Research questioned 1,000
UK adults that hold a current account with a bank with branches in the UK. Research was conducted in May 2017.