Recently, while researching branch design for our quarterly journal, I noticed that banks have been quietly creating the “branch of the future” mainly through the areas of Technology, Experimentation, and Design. Now, I’m a big fan of TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) and the amazing content they publish, so I was fairly tickled when I realized the same acronym (albeit with a different ‘E’) could work here. I wondered if we would see TED talks on the future of banking – and of course, a quick search, and seconds later – there are already a few from past TEDx events, including one by Brett King on Banking 2.0 and another by Tan Su Shan of DBS on the evolving nature of banking.
In any case, I find the level of discourse around branch innovation highly encouraging. For my part, I have come across massive innovation in each area. We talk a lot about startups disrupting traditional banking, and that may still occur, but I for one am happy to see large banks flexing their innovation muscles in seemingly nontraditional ways.
- video teleconferencing to provide specialized experts, like investment professionals, to all branches (virtually), thus potentially improving customer experience and the potential for cross-sell
- on-demand relationship-based pricing, for example providing a quote for an expected volume of business with preferred rates or reduced fees
- banks are creating innovation labs to test drive new features and functionalities, from simple things like JPMorgan Chase’s pursuit of ATMs that deliver exact change, to more futuristic means of identification like palm or iris scanning
- testing the use of tablet-armed banking professionals to help guide branch customers to the right teller, kiosk, or professional, thus improving the customer experience
- the physical design of branches is changing enormously, and we are seeing smaller branch footprints that are less expensive and faster to build, with a more open retail-like floor plan (Jim Marous of the Financial Brand recently put a great list together on various ‘branch of the future’ designs)
- banks like Umpqua Bank in the Pacific Northwest are even remodelling the business itself, replacing tellers and specialized personnel with universal associates who can help customers across a wide array of banking services
- banks are hiring incredible designers as they become more aware of the discipline of design itself, and that many of the expected affordances in branch design do not lend themselves to a great customer experience (for example, banks of tellers)
This is a just a small taste of the type of innovation that is happening today as so called ‘traditional’ banks move the branch of the future conversation forward. To learn more, you can download our own findings on how banks can use these levers to generate ROI on a branch basis, and I encourage you to post any great innovation examples and other sources in the comments.