Branch Sexy: Keeping Branch Banking Attractive in an Electronic Era
Branch banking is an important component in building consumer trust and loyalty. With the advent of direct deposit, online banking and the increasing use of smartphones that do almost anything these days— including remote deposit capture— branch banking is arguably becoming less common than it once was. That doesn’t mean branch banking is dead. In fact, the community where I live has new banks going up on every corner it seems. Depending on where you live, your generation, and the type of bank transaction that you are performing can determine whether you make an in-person visit to your local branch or not. There are many benefits to driving foot traffic into banks and they need to focus on creative ways to pull more consumers in.
Face time is a good way to ensure that customers’ needs are being met and also provides opportunities to cross-sell new products. A great customer experience helps ensure that customers won’t be taking their business elsewhere and may bring more business to the bank. Current customers, if they are happy with their bank, will likely add more products to their portfolio and remain loyal for the long term. They will be more inclined to refer new prospects to the bank because they will rave about the service, products and hassle-free banking they receive.
With Gallup polls in 2010 showing consumer confidence in banks at an all-time low (and maintaining a near-low in 2011), promoting a positive public image is more important than ever. There are numerous ways banks can address the perceptions issues out there. One of the most effective ways to improve image is to excel when it comes to customer service. There is no better place to showcase this than in the branch. Personal contact with great service is one of the best ways for businesses to achieve a better image.
A welcome smile when customers enter, complimentary beverages, and minimal wait-time with friendly service are simple, yet effective gestures for improving the customer experience in the branch. It is important to understand your customers’ needs and be able to fulfill them as best as possible. Bottom line, good customer service goes a long way when it comes to reputation management and building a positive company image regardless of the industry. This is why encouraging customers to use branch banking is so essential. Hosting community oriented events is one way to bring more people to the branch.
My favorite bank event is “shred it” day. A couple of times a year my bank has a shredding company on site in the parking lot. The public (not just bank customers) can bring their confidential documents that need to be disposed of securely to the bank to be shredded. This reinforces the bank is serious about security and willing to provide a valuable service to the community at no cost, in addition to giving the bank an opportunity to drive traffic through the doors. This is a great example of a community event that promotes the bank, provides a good customer experience and encourages foot traffic.
Recent Gallup polls uncovered that a large number of customers are not committed to their primary bank. More specifically, three in five consumers and four in five small-business customers are at risk of taking their business to a competitor. The market is ripe for competing banks to sell themselves to those consumers lacking commitment to their current banks. The hotel, department store, restaurant or airline that greets you warmly and gives the best, personalized experience is the one people will keep coming back to. This is the image banks need to project and builds a strong case for that additional face time. Whether it is a food bank drive, “shred it” day, or an open house, banks should be driving more customers through their doors. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.