I got an email from the team organising the upcoming Branch Transformation 2022 event in London. Alas I am a few thousand miles away so I won’t be able to attend, but it sure looks like a a good idea. You see, although it’s tempting to assume that the vast majority of customers in many developed markets don’t care about bank branches, that’s not entirely accurate.
I remember being absolutely astonished when a younger colleague – I think she was about 28 – explained to me that she was looking for a mortgage and wanted to visit a branch to get some advice. This, dear reader, was in the Nordics, one of the MOST CONNECTED, DIGITAL places on the planet.
I had to question my colleague seriously! I had expected her to want to use digital channels exclusively.
But no. She and her boyfriend wanted to get some advice. This really brought home to me the criticality of leveraging your branch networking correctly.
Yes my colleague could have got a mortgage from any number of digital-only players. Instead, she preferred to speak to ‘a proper bank’. In the end, they actually used the video conferencing service available to speak to a customer adviser from your home, rather than visiting a branch, simply because they couldn’t find a physical appointment that suited them both that week.
When people ask me about the future of bank branches, I often opine that there’s still a considerable opportunity to focus on offering and enabling an environment for ‘high value conversations’ – whether it’s investment planning advice, buying a house or something similar. Even digital natives want to get good, independent advice from a brand they trust – and in many cases, that can invariably be a well known incumbent, especially if they’ve been transforming their branch network to support this. But the days of having to queue up to deposit a cheque? Or visit a branch to get something stamped and authorised? Well, the UK media is full of branch closure stories. (Yahoo reports 326 UK bank branches will close by December 2022!)
So it would be interesting to hear the types of conversations and trends being discussed at the Branch Transformation event next month, albeit from a UK-market perspective!