How Bank and Credit Union Branches Will Change in 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way people do banking, but the gears of change were in motion long before the start of the crisis. In recent years more and more people have opted for online banking. Traditional financial institutions have been closing some or all of their branches.
However, even as the pandemic forced branches to close temporarily and others voluntarily shuttered up permanently, others have recognized the importance of providing brick-and-mortar services to their customers. There is something personal about managing your finances at a physical location and contacting actual people, and banks know this. That is why financial institutions are unlikely to shift online totally. But how will they change in the future?
What the Experts Say
The Financial Brand interviewed four branch design firm executives to learn how bank and credit union branches will change in 2022 and beyond. Nate Baldasaro, a co-founder of The Element Group, notes: “Most bankers are not designers, and most of them have a hard time envisioning that you can accomplish all of what they need to accomplish in 2,000 or 1,500 square feet, and still provide great service.”
Branch downsizing can be a great way to save on construction and operating costs while still providing customers with an on-site experience. In the coming years, more branches are expected to either relocate or—in the case of those that are just starting out—set up shop on smaller sites.
Kevin Blair, CEO of NewGround, told The Financial Brand that the “new normal” should pivot around a “greater focus on complex sales and service and further automation of transactions.” Blair believes that this kind of experience can be achieved by smaller facilities that utilize universal banking platforms. Of course, automation is key to workflow optimization, so it makes sense that financial institutions are increasingly on the lookout for the newest, greatest technology to manage different sales types and transactions.
When speaking to The Financial Brand, executive team members from Level5 also stressed the importance of using technology to modernize branches, stating, “Technology finds application throughout the branch, in self-service, assisted service, and employee support roles. It is crucial that the technology work ‘as advertised and that any rollout of something new be supported by advanced communication and training to avoid embarrassing and potentially fatal lapses in service or perceived competence.”
Now, banks will also face the urgency of needing to update and redesign as quickly as possible, as PWCampbell CEO Jim Caliendo points out. “80% of bank branches are over 30 years old. Financial institutions no longer have the luxury of renovating one branch at a time over a long period.”
Here are three additional ways that banks and credit unions are expected to change in the near future.
Increased Use of Digital Signage
Digital signage plays a crucial role in attracting customers. Banks can leverage digital signage for effective communication with customers and employees alike, significantly improving the customer experience.
There are several reasons that digital signage is essential to banks. First, using digital signage for branded content is an excellent way for financial institutions to promote their brands and help build customer loyalty. It also allows banks with multiple branches to simultaneously display the same branded information across each branch.
In addition, digital signage makes it possible for banks to convey important information to customers. Not everyone has the time or patience to sit down and read a brochure, but they can easily digest quick bits of info from a flashing electronic sign. Digital signing can also communicate important information to bank employees.
Digital signage comes in many forms. Some banks may, for instance, install teller signage for customers to look at while they’re waiting in line. Outdoor digital signage can inform customers of wait times, redirect them to the lobby, and share the best hours to avoid wait times.
Heightened Focus on Connections Over Transactions
Banks are now prioritizing connection with their customers. While transactions remain an important bank function and the primary reason most people visit banks on any given day, financial institutions realize the importance of getting to know their customers personally.
For example, some ultra-modern branch settings feature cafes and informal meeting spaces where bank employees can converse with and help customers in a low-pressure, comfortable environment. Kiosks may be available for basic transactions, while customers requiring more detailed assistance can sit down with bank employees in a lounge or private meeting room.
Because banks play a pivotal role in the lives of their customers, they must work to foster a customer-centric business model. This includes greater access to services and opportunities for personal contact with bank personnel.
Greater Reliance on IoT
IoT, or the internet of things, refers to the physical objects that are embedded with sensors and other technologies that connect with other devices and systems over the internet. With over 7 billion IoT devices in operation today, there is no doubt that businesses will need to find new ways to incorporate tech into their workflows, and banks are no exception.
There are several ways that IoT is expected to change the course of financial institutions in 2022 and beyond. It will allow them to optimize the customer journey and use data to improve their business practices. The more connected customers are to banks through tech, the more easily banks can learn from their behaviors and work to create a better experience for them.
With so many different devices connected, banks and credit unions can better monitor various activities and look for areas for optimization to improve processes. This can help FIs become more efficient overall, better serve customers, and speed up workflows.
Also, with advancements in IoT applications, the need for employees to remain on the job site may diminish. While branches are here to stay, at least for the immediate future, the internet and its related technologies have made it possible for employees to stay connected, whether they’re working on-site or at home. In this way, IoT allows branches to provide more flexible working options to employees.
Building the Branches of the Future
Even with the growing interest in digital banking, bank and credit union branches still play an important role in the financial dealings of their customers. However, they will need to adapt to meet the ever-evolving needs of an increasingly tech-centered population. Branches may downsize, emphasizing customer relationships over large business operations. They might also ramp up their use of digital signage and incorporate more IoT devices into their daily tasks.
Teksetra offers several different tech solutions that financial institutions can utilize to increase efficiency and provide a better experience for their customers. These include digital signage, audiovisual, and IoT solutions. For financial institutions specifically, Teksetra provides several different solutions and services, such as IT support, project services, repair and maintenance, and more. Reach out today to learn more about Teksetra’s solutions and how they can improve your business in 2022 and beyond!
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