But first, let’s take a moment to imagine your ideal consumer experience. If I was to take a guess, you pictured experiences centered around two very distinct notions: exclusivity and hospitality. These are the trends successful retailers and financial institutions (FIs) are deploying to drive their businesses.
One specific trend we see globally in communities with higher discretionary income is the concept of “lounge banking.” Much like the Centurion Lounge in airports, lounge banking locations set aside a special area for their premier customers inside the branch or in a satellite location in high traffic areas (i.e. upscale malls) that are completely different (and closed) to the average banking consumer.
These lounges have high-end couches, massage chairs, expensive artwork and extravagant food options for these premier customers to enjoy.
Several FIs in Thailand, Mexico and the Philippines have established “VIP experience” lounge areas for high-net-worth consumers to enjoy a more exclusive, high-end environment. Lounge banking test branches are proven to retain consumers, maintain loyalty and showcase exceptional customer service.
Retailification empowers staff to create memorable, positive, hassle-free visits. Hospitality has become such a large focus, some financial institutions have looked to outside resources to supplant the traditional teller-consumer interaction with something more personalized and welcoming.
We’ve seen FIs hire five-star hospitality team members from the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company to conduct employee training, because people remember world-class service experiences, especially when they’re treated with respect and feel welcomed. Our Advisory Services solutions include branch audits and staff evaluations to ensure the branch experience is “first class.”
In other parts of the world, the focus is acknowledging what consumers are passionate about (playing to their lifestyles) and creating a more casual environment to reflect those styles and preferences. In Brazil, for example, where there is a large focus on coffee (Brazil is the world’s largest producer of coffee), many of their bank branches are like tech bars and some FIs even have a barista on staff to serve coffee to consumers.
It’s all an effort to create banking experiences that delight consumers, extend relationships and create cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
It’s clear that as FIs head toward commoditization of services and offerings, the best way to compete is to deliver a distinctive customer experience. Standing out is the only way to get consumers to come in. Today, most banking consumers in North America are fairly satisfied with their banks. However, the percentage of consumers who would recommend their bank to another is pretty low. This means a consumer may not be loyal to a bank, but doesn’t want the hassle of switching to another.
Creating a truly dynamic consumer experience means changing the culture – from the look and feel of the branch to the opportunities for conversations – and orchestrating seamless execution. It’s implementing retailified experiences.
A recent study found that 65% of Americans “would move their money to a different financial institution for more convenient and personalized services, including video conferencing, automated financial advice derived from analytics about their behavior and financial goals, mobile payments, branch recognition and augmented reality.”
As a services-led, software-enabled company, one of our primary focuses is collaborating with FIs to create experience-driven interactions in their branches. Our team helps transform branches into a setting more suitable for personalized banking experiences. With over 750 financial institutions consulted to date, we have seen a number of retailification initiatives change the traditional layout, function and atmosphere of a financial institution into something more inviting, invigorating and welcoming.
Let’s work together to reinvent your business and create an experience-driven banking strategy.
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