RESHAPING THE ROLE OF THE BRANCH (Mar 2016)

From Transactions to Sales

Approaches to Staffing

Branch Size and Functions

Key Finding from the Report:

Results from SYNERGISTICS 2014 study, The Era of Self-Service Banking, found that tellers and other personnel are widely used during branch visits.  However, ATMs are also being used extensively at branches.  Are consumers ready to accept ATMs as a replacement for tellers at branches?

F241 Prop Graphic

Highlights of the Study

This study evaluates branch usage patterns, improvements and innovations, as well as the role of branches going forward.  It will assist providers in identifying strategies for positioning, redesigning and configuring branches.
National Internet Survey – 1,000 consumers age 18 or older.

Key Dates

December 18, 2015 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.
December 18, 2015 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.
March 2016 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • What is the position of the branch as a consumer contact point in terms of frequency of overall monthly visits? How does this vary between inside visits, drive-up visits, and other purposes?  How important are convenient branches as a provider selection factor?  What types of activities are performed at branches?  How important is the role of branches in initial account acquisition and further cross-selling?
  • Has consumer branch usage increased, decreased, or stayed the same in the past five and one year periods? How have other channels – such as ATMs, online banking, and mobile banking – impacted branch activity?
  • What are the reasons or motivations some consumers use branches instead of other available – and potentially more convenient – channels? In contrast, why do some consumers choose not to use branches?
  • How do consumers view automation and technology in branches – as a means for branch staff to provide better customer service or as an option for customers to perform self-service?  Do customers in general desire future improvements in branch technology?
  • What role do or can alternative facilities play in meeting consumers’ needs for branch contact?   How widespread is usage of in-store branches and online direct banks?   What is the potential for self-service kiosks?  Does video conference capability expand the appeal of kiosks?
  • How wide is overall satisfaction with branches among consumers? How important are specific aspects such as transaction speed and accuracy, number and convenience of locations, hours of operation, and staff competence and friendliness? What features, services, or staffing capabilities would consumers see as being improvements at their primary branch?
  • Which consumer identifiers – such as demographic variables, behavioral patterns, or attitudinal traits – are most useful in designing and implementing branch configuration strategies?

Research Issues

  • Branches will remain the heart of delivery systems for many financial institutions. However, it is inescapable that this facility needs to be reshaped for the future.  Consumer branch behavior is changing as check usage declines and usage of remote banking alternatives such as online and mobile banking and remote deposit capture grow.  In this new digital age, providers are faced with the dilemma of how to make branches more efficient and cost-effective, while at the same time improving the customer experience by offering financial advice and consultations.
  • New branch redesigns are emphasizing the advisory, customer service, and sales roles these facilities play in the financial behavior of consumers.  Even technology addicts come to branches when they want to make important financial decisions or open more complex products.  Many providers are employing universal staffing so that one representative can serve the varying needs of customers from advice and sales to transactions.  As an aid in enhancing service at the branch some providers are encouraging customers to make appointments with a banker using their mobile phone.
  • There is also an increasing emphasis on moving routine teller transactions to self-service options such as automated deposit terminals, cash recyclers, videoconference terminals, and enhanced ATMs that perform a variety of new functions from cashing checks to the penny to issuing cards.  What is the reaction of consumers to these self-service or automated options at the branch?  The function or role of the branch is not the only aspect that is evolving – branches are also becoming smaller in size.  Will consumers accept smaller branches with fewer staff and more automation?  This survey will explore consumer reaction to new approaches to branch staffing, function, and size to assist providers in designing cost-effective and efficient branch facilities. [F241]