Tuesday, 4 August 2015

A new take on a branch experience

To be a bank these days is by no means an easy job. Consumers hate them, shareholders have a continual haste towards them and regulators just can’t seem to figure out what to do with them. At the end of the day, a bank’s got to do, what a bank’s got to do - make money! However, the way in which they do this makes all the difference.

The Bank of Queensland is aiming to challenge consumer perceptions about banks through the national transformation of their branches in the hope to bring to life the concept that it is possible to love a bank. A big challenge if you ask me! Another key issue that sparked the idea of this re-design was the fact that the bank branch is no longer about the telling counter.

In today’s world, we are of the understanding that customers are increasingly using a multitude of platforms to make transactions. In order for the bank to move forward, it had to understand that if the less complex decisions and transactions could be made online, then the experience within the branch had to be shifted and focused on the more complex decisions, discussions and transactions.

The new branches are said to demonstrate an open plan focusing on enabling conversation and customer relations rather than transactions. Centred around a café like atmosphere, there will be large long tables that will drive more “side-by-side” discussions between staff and consumers with the added bonus of self-service devices. The success of this re-branding can be seen in the results of existing Bank of Queensland branches that have said to of doubled. The strategy to re-design the banks branches stems from the understanding that in order to succeed there must be a strong, stable relationship model between customers and staff members.

In relation to marketing we learn in most cases, successful brands sit apart from the rest by both telling a simple story that builds an affinity with the brand and sticking to a certain brand message. From its early stages, the brand message, the Bank of Queensland abides by is one of real partnership and relationship however their branches design and layout never really aligned with this ethos. Philippa Bartlett, General Manager of Corporate Network and Retail Transformation, mentioned that it was important that a physical presence was designed in alignment with customers loving a bank.

When delivering brand messages to your consumers, it is important to ensure you are being authentic to the brand. In an era where technology plays such a large part it, becomes easier and easier to become quickly exposed. The concept of authenticity within the branch was to be seen within the physical environment it resided. An important factor in the re-design of the banks branches was the idea that the customer should be in charge of any interaction within the branch. By removing the physical barriers, consumers are now able to have this side-by-side interaction that the bank labels a “partnership”.  

Lauren Musat
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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