New Sleek Bank Branch Overhauls – What Does it Really Mean to Customer Experience?

There has been so much debate around whether bank branches are here to stay or go, There are of-course many different ways banks are attempting to design the esthetics of the branches – whether they should be more café style, whether it is appropriate that they should hold yoga sessions in the morning – that is all up to the bank and the niche market they are going after. However I would like to share personal customer experiences at two separate banks with new revamped and modernized branches.

One of the bank branches is located at a mall with a new wing, new Apple store, and a new Microsoft store. I was walking by and was intrigued by the cool design. Digital screens and associates walking around with tablets – it all looked quite sleek and impressive. That is until I stepped inside and asked them to close an old account that I hadn’t used in a very long time – archaic processes begin. It was first communicated that I had to initiate the process in the branch that I had initially opened the account – when I refused, the associate went to a file cabinet and took out a form, went to a photocopier and copied the form, brought it to me and had me fill it out – she explained to me that she would put it in the internal mail pouch and send it to the department that is responsible for account closures. The process should take 3 to 4 weeks. It has been 3 months and I’m still getting my statements. I have tried calling the contact center and there is no trace of the form – “it may have gotten lost in the internal mail”. So much for the modern cool design and the iPads! Where is technology when you need it?

In another attempt to see if the branch redesigns and overhauls are in lock-step with process re-design and modernization, I visited another bank. This bank had taken on another design strategy – all the tellers were sitting at the counter on bar stools with revolving screens. My simple question – “can you please tell me the balance on all my holdings” should have been a simple inquiry, however this required the teller to move from her stool and touch multiple systems and printers, call upon another associate who had access to another system,and for me to wait 40 minutes as my accounts resided on different systems.

Convergence performed some research and discovered that40% of customers claim that their top dissatisfier is multiple attempts to resolve a problem, 35% claim taking too long to resolve the problem and 34% repeating the same information – I was victim to all three! There is technology here today to solve all of this and to fix the customer experience and loyalty issue – why are institutions not listening?

By the time I was done with both banks, I didn’t care at all about their new designs. I wish they had invested in updating and modernizing their processes and systems. I wish they knew who I was, what accounts I held, and could address my needs in a timely manner. If they want to compete with the likes of the Apple store, then they need to have the processes in place like Apple. Slick looking design isn’t enough.

A past webinar that may be of interest can be found here.