Best of Branded Financial Experiences
Traditional Bank Questions Answered by Modern Retail.
Think the financial crisis hurt consumers? They weren’t alone. Banks suffered too — big time. In the first half of 2017 alone, 869 brick-and-mortar [financial] entities shut their doors, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The scary reality is that retail banks are out of touch with what people want, with attempts at branch experience “transformation,” resulting in only a pretty interior and nods toward neighborliness. Meanwhile, today’s fickle, non-committed consumers have a strong digital bank preference and are driving the industry. The digital “branch” in their pocket is winning.
This shift has been a shock to the financial industry — having a physical presence is crucial to maintaining and increasing a client base. There is a critical touchpoint of the first human interaction that occurs in a bank, coupled with in-depth, needs-based experience innovation that is required to make the branch more relevant and the digital more real. It’s crucial for keeping customers and establishing a relationship with new, younger ones.
Leading the Way
Now the good news. Despite the closings, there are nearly 80,000 branches left in the U.S., so we see this point in banking industry history as the opportunity to add lasting value to the branch experience.
Thinking differently, we would posit that all banks —digital or traditional—can learn from the retail context. And we’re experts at creating modern retail environments that enhance the customer experience through design and technology. This loss of bank branches is very similar to challenges faced by retailers the last 20 years. We’ve helped leading retail brands regain their footing ever since.
How We Do It
The customer journey, from lifestyle to purchase, is our bread and butter. Understanding the customer’s day-to-day life and how they interact with brands (not just financial) is the key to providing the solution. We help interpret the unmet consumer needs that a bank is uniquely positioned to solve and uncover innovations in retail that point to unexpected solutions. It is the beginning and the end of how we solve problems today.
Why You Should Care
There’s another parallel to retail and other shifting categories: If they don’t respond to changing times, tastes, and tech, financial institutions will be overrun by new, flashy apps and services that offer greater simplicity and ease — the way Uber and Amazon disrupted their markets. Speaking of Amazon, their next industry entry is aimed directly at banking. Existing branches still hold an advantage of key locations within communities, but the time to act is now. Becoming more like retail and relevant to today’s needs can reverse that trend line and create viable growth vehicles for the companies under the stress of change.