The Goldilocks branch

bank-branch-SelfServThinking about the story of Goldilocks, where she wanted to find the perfect size–neither too big, nor too small, really resonates with me and the buzz in our industry.

Citigroup has launched a massive new flagship branch in San Francisco at around 6,400 square feet and the bank is rolling out a series of new compact branches, which will be about half the size of the traditional version–between 600 and 1,200 square feet. It is also reported to be considering ‘mini’ branches that are even smaller and have just one staff member, similar to that of Wells Fargo and Bank of America.

We have also seen new initiatives, such as one of the largest UK banks, which has opened branches in the supermarket–making use of shared facilities to cut costs, but also positioning the branch for consumer convenience. Could the next stage be a shared bank branch?

European Banks have focused on digital, however, this channel does not facilitate human interaction and it was highlighted at BAI that Europe is beginning to realize they need to review their customer contact strategy. We are finding that the move towards achieving leaner, high tech, smaller branches could be a vital link in the banking chain. It could even reverse the trend we’ve seen and lead to more branches in more locations–Citi says that it expects to expand from 54 traditional branches to 59 locations in Miami when it runs a trial of its’ new approach in early 2015. The large hub branch will still play a role, but it will not be the standard model for other sites.

So how important is it to get this ‘perfect-sized branch’ strategy? It is plain to see that it is still very important, since this is a fundamental route to the customer. McKinsey explained that face-to-face is required for sales and advice or to resolve a complicated service or transaction requirement. And it is no longer a fairy tale, banks now have the opportunity to achieve cost optimization and resource efficiency, while maintaining the human touch.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelagh Munday
With nine years in the financial technology sector, Shelagh comments on industry trends and innovation. Her vision is to empower financial institutions in achieving a seamless and personal customer experience across the omnichannel.

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