What can UK banks learn from European bank branches?

“Anyone following the news around bank branches in the past year will have picked up on a significant shift. While we have of course seen the raft of branch closures, we’ve also seen positive developments. The latest development from Halifax, with the launch of their new flagship store is certainly welcome, and of course we saw earlier announcements from Lloyds about a new hybrid branch format.

“With a real estate section, a section for social enterprise, a travel area and a kid’s area, Halifax are adopting a model that we’ve seen banks in other parts of Europe use to their and their customers’ advantage. We’ve also seen examples of banks bringing in collaborations with local councils, and providing healthcare, entrepreneurship and other social services. Of course, adding in these new sections does rely on continued investment and input, and provides banks with an opportunity to maintain momentum, to protect their investment and ensure they don’t reduce their customers’ choice.

“New branch formats like this showcases the possibilities for the future, but banks must be able to quickly roll out successful formats by ensuring that technological limitations and siloes don’t get in the way. They should also consider carefully what their customers want by employing analytic tools to measure the effectiveness and uptake of new channels and services before roll-out. British bank branches still hold huge potential, and only poor choices (including the technology behind the channel) can lead to a failure to realise it.”

Examples of European banks who have changed their branch experiences:

Cariparma (part of Credit Agricole’s Group) – have adopted a hybrid bank branch approach, which embraces the adoption of Assisted Self Service (ASD) devices and opens up more space for creating a better customer experience. Instead of shutting off unused space, the bank has created inviting lounge areas for customers, private meeting areas, as well as providing spaces for community events and meetings.

Intesa Sanpaolo – adopted a welcoming and well organised environment, including ancillary services for the customer and the community. Lounge areas so that customers can use technology while they wait, including laptops, tablets and free Wi-Fi at Customers. They also have a strong connection with the local community, including opportunities to showcase local business, connect employers with young job seekers and showcase arts and culture (including pieces from the ISP collection).

Millenium BCP, Portugal – The newly transformed branches now have “Digital Experience Zones”, where innovative technologies and assisted self-service terminals – dubbed “Millennium Teller Machines” – have replaced conventional devices.

Author: Yash Hirani

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