The new financial branch models are embracing creative and new strategic approaches that can satisfy members and customers who are busier and more tech savvy than ever. As transactions continue to change within the facilities, branches are transforming from transactional focused to advisory based training and sales centers where the staff should be viewed as an educational financial resource. Although physical staff is available, today’s members and customers should be offered the option of new technology at every available touch point within the branch to maximize sales and operational efficiencies.
Consideration should be given to introducing new levels of technology within the branch networks, and should include such things as:
- Virtual sales and cross channel integration, through integration of digital marketing centers and touch screen technology
- “Tech Bars” or “Tech Centers”
- Interactive Teller Machines or ITMs
- Equipment upgrades, such as check scanners and cash recyclers
DIGITAL MARKETING & TOUCH SCREENS
With today’s electronic age and instant access to information, printed marketing collateral is outdated. From a branch design perspective, consider replacing print marketing materials and their displays with digital marketing to open up valuable branch real estate to other opportunities. Omitting the need for storage of printed materials creates even more space within the branch. This is especially useful in branches decreasing their footprint. Marketing information can be displayed on the screens that are intentionally designed into strategic locations within the branch, or located in waiting areas.
The content presented on the screens should be designed to not only focus on your products and services; but should also highlight your institutions mission and connections to the community. It is important to not subscribe to a service that could advertise for the larger national and regional competitors who constantly run their advertisement on the national networks.
TECH BARS OR TECH CENTERS
In most of the projects that we are working on, we are integrating what we at K4 call a “Tech Bar” or “Tech Center.” This is an open area within the branch with a hi-top counter that has either tablets, PC’s, or a touch screen. The branch staff can demonstrate, educate, and train the members or customers on the bank’s various digital channels. According to The Financial Brand, the top five most popular self-service technologies are as follows:
- Customer/Member on-boarding
- Product and service awareness
- Education about a digital channel functionality
- Video Chat Advice
- Customer/Member Complaints
INTERACTIVE TELLER MACHINES
The concept of the Interactive Teller Machine (ITM) continues to gain momentum and should be a consideration for financial institutions because of the potential to reduce both personnel and operating costs, and more effective management of the unpredictable walk-in traffic.
From a design perspective, this approach should be handled very sensitively with an intense focus on providing service while preserving privacy. In other words, to implement any new technology, your branch staff needs to be very sensitive to the reluctance of the member or customer to try the new process and technology. The branch staff needs to be very well trained on the new technology and make themselves available immediately upon entering the facility, or even in the drive through lanes for a short time period after they are installed. Greeter stations or dialogue towers should be implemented and welcoming so that the members or customers knows where and who to go to. The staff can then educate and encourage people to use the new technology.
If your institution is considering the possibility of the ITMs, there are many other design considerations that must be taken into account. Visibility of the ITMs as one enters a branch facility is important, like seeing the teller counter and/or teller pods upon entrance.
Security is also of utmost importance. Therefore, sight lines and the physical surroundings of the devices need to be considered to assist with privacy of a members or customer’s account or personal information on the screen. Another security concern involves the actual conversation between the member/customer and the interactive teller, that can often be louder than a normal conversation. The surrounding materials around and near the device should be acoustically designed to absorb sound so that the conversations do not reverberate throughout the facility, and in some instances, we have introduced “white noise” in the areas where the ITM’s are located.
CHECK SCANNERS & CASH RECYCLERS
If you still prefer the traditional concept of a teller managed transaction, consider streamlining transactions with electronic technology that scans checks at the time of deposit rather than keying it in.
Also, the use of cash recyclers are another way to improve staff productivity and operational efficiency of a transaction at either the teller line or a pod. Rather than the frontline staff focusing on managing and counting the cash, they can engage with the member or customer and identify potential ways to cross-sell products.
Designing to integrate and implement the equipment is critical in both the teller line and pod.
It is important to know what equipment you will be using and to accommodate the appropriate space and clearances for using and servicing the equipment as well as the aesthetic concerns of the equipment from a customer perspective.
As the re-purposing of branches continues to evolve, it is important that financial institutions take advantage of every possible touch point and integrate the appropriate technology into their branches. Technology will never replace people, but if design and technology are complimentary and implemented correctly, they can make the branch visit an engaging and memorable experience.