“SERVICE” – Our Last Name, Our First Priority!
“SERVICE” – Our Last Name, Our First Priority!

Take a page from the retail playbook: The agile branch banking customer experience


Retailers have become more adaptive to respond to digital disruption, engage customers and improve competitiveness. Facing similar forces of change, retail banks must do the same.

One way that banks can adapt is to learn from retailers’ transformation of in-store experiences. The place to start is with the branch. After all, it is the bank’s bricks-and-mortar storefront.

The branch is still relevant

Accenture’s 2016 North America Consumer Digital Banking Survey reveals what people want from the branch banking customer experience.

Most customers expect to go to the branch in the future. Opportunities for human interaction draw them there. Consumers most commonly report that they will use the branch in the future because they trust their bank more and receive more value when speaking to someone in person.

The agile branch imperative

These consumer attitudes signal key takeaways for the branch of the future. The bank branch must make a 180-degree shift from routine processing to high-end servicing. It must deliver personalized experiences that blend person-to-person and digital banking experiences. This is the essence of the agile branch, which we discuss in more detail in the Accenture Agile Bank Series.

Shopping for retail practices

Agile branches excel at bringing people to the branch with techniques that retailers use to bring customers to the store in the era of online shopping.

While banks have been slow to change—thanks to technology, process and structural complexity—retail innovations are appearing in pockets. Agile branches are not afraid to beg, borrow or steal retail innovations like these:

  • Content for who—and where—people are. With location-based beacons that communicate with smartphone apps to know where customers are around the branch, banks can deliver highly personalized content in real-time. This could include invitations to come into the branch for special financial education sessions or even identify loyalty program customers to offer them a special greeting and perks.
  • Personalization without channel boundaries. With deep customer data insight like retailers have, banks can deliver personalized messages that connect customers’ online, mobile banking, ATM and in-branch banking experiences. A personalized ATM message could invite a customer to come into the branch for services and advice aligned to a specific life moment such as getting an auto loan or financing home improvements.
  • Experiences that take a bite out of the Apple. Banks can bring innovative experiences that are the hallmark of the Apple Store to the agile branch. Think of how features like the Genius Bar, hands-on training and workshops, seamless payments, floor managers and paperless store experiences could make for much more engaging and customer-focused branch encounters.
  • An emphasis on white-glove service experiences. Our survey results show that customers are hunting for value from banks—in the form of deals, convenience and rewards. Why not give them more than what they bargained for like premium retailers do? This could mean offering “concierge” services such as cash delivery or package receipt and signature services for customers who cannot be home to receive them.

Banks have opportunities to embrace retail practices like these to pivot from average branch transactions to agile branch experiences.