You are on page 1of 8

Transforming the banking branch

Three essential roles for the branch in the everyday bank

By Frederic Brunier, Dr. Christian Ptsch, Friederike Stradtmann

Transforming the banking branch

Branch innovation
Many banks have already closed, or plan to close, at least some of their
branches. Branch networks are costly to operate and, increasingly, customers
choose to purchase financial products through digital channels. But reducing
or streamlining their branch presence, or moving to the extreme and adopting
a wide scale branchless model, may not be in a banks, or its customers,
best interests. Customers value branch interaction78 percent of US-based
consumers said they expect to visit their local bank branch just as much or
more frequently in the next five years.1 As a result, banks must reposition their
traditional branch model. By taking advantage of digital innovation, banks can
transform the branch network to offer banking services that are more personal,
immersive, and relevant for their role as an everyday bank.

New customer experiences

Tomorrows banking customers will take advantage of both digital and
physical channels in managing their finances. If their local branch closes,
43 percent of US-based consumers would simply use another branch
location of their primary bank.2 Customers that combine digital
and physical channels:
Undertake detailed research online to compare services.
Visit the branch to validate their online findings
and sign up to products or services.
Tend to have more products and be more profitable over
the customer life cycle.
There are many reasons why closing a banks branches can result in poor
outcomes; the loss of high street presence can shrink a banks presence
in the public; competitors are in a stronger position to seize market share;
brand equity can be compromised, and customers could lose confidence
and seek out another bank.


Accenture North American Consumer Banking Survey 2015

Accenture North American Consumer Banking Survey 2015

Transforming the banking branch

The millennials are a good example of a strong behavioral response to

a banks branch strategy. Younger customers, particularly those aged
18 to 24, make the greatest use of branches and inbranch value-added
activities (Figure 1), with around one-half of them engaging in at least
one value-added service during their last visit.3 While customers in this
segment are most vocal in wanting exceptional online and mobile banking,
they do not view digital as a complete substitution for branches. Research
shows that this age group has a noticeably greater bias towards physical
interaction, all pointing to their need for facetoface contact, advice
and reassurance in the initial stages of their own financial journey.
Figure 1.
Younger customers lead the way in undertaking value-added activities in-branch

Responses to the survey question: Which of the following activities

did you do during your last visit to your banks branch?
(figures shown are a percentage of responses by age bracket)

Transactional activity

77 78 73


68 66

66 61



Withdrew cash


Checked my

Value-added activity


Made/set up a

52 47

46 44


Got information
on product
or service


Changed my

Source: Accenture UK Financial Services Customer Survey 2014

Accenture UK Financial Services Customer Survey 2014


Opened an account or
purchased/renewed a
financial product

Transforming the banking branch

Three essential roles

Three key roles are vital if branches are to attract and retain future
customers: digital ambassador, advisor hub for specialized services
and problem solver.

The branch as digital ambassador

Most consumers now use some form of digital banking. Research shows
that 80 percent of the digital generation, or Gen D, are embracing
digital for daily banking needs, but only 22 percent act completely
self-directed.4 Baby boomers, the majority of Gen D, regularly use social
media, yet digital advisor access and tools are of relatively low value
to them. Branches can help increase the digital penetration of a banks
customer base and lower bank transaction costs by educating digital
laggards. Branch employees can offer advice on using digital tools for
everyday banking needs and invest in in-branch digital capabilities.
More than one-half of consumers rank interactive screens as the most
important in-branch technology (Figure 2).
Figure 2.
Importance of in-branch technology services

Response to the survey question: Rank potential in-branch

technology services in terms of importance.
(figures represent responses from the United States and are shown as a percentage)

Interactive screens
Self-service remote advisor

38 37


Source: Accenture North America Consumer Banking Survey 2015

AIB promotes digital banking store

Since its launch in 2015, AIBs The LabIrelands first digital banking
storeis thriving as a space for customers to explore digital banking. Located
in the much-visited shopping, business and leisure development, Dundrum
Town Center, The Lab offers customers a friendly and informative environment
to experience first-hand the latest developments in AIBs self-service banking,
Internet banking, mobile banking and tablet banking apps.
Accenture Generation D Europe Investor Survey 2014,


Transforming the banking branch

The branch as advisory hub

Although the use of online banking services continues to grow, the
offline demand for complex and high-value products is still high within
branches. Globally, two-thirds of complex, high-margin products (such
as mortgages and pensions) are selling over branch networks. The
branch can play to that strength and become a full-service advisory
hub for complex products, long-term financial planning and other
highly-specialized services. In this way, the bank can:
Center full sales and service support around customer
preferences and needs.
Provide the human touch through specialist staff that
are on-hand to advise on different or complex services.
Offer extended hoursweekends, late nights or on-demand
remote services via video conferencing.
Initiate conversations, setting up and closing business in the branch,
then maintaining the dialogue online.
Enable value aggregation with other providers in the everyday
bank ecosystem.

Erste Bank launches new advisory branch

In May 2015, Erste Bank in Vienna opened its first, large, newly-designed
advisory and service branch center. More than 45 financial experts are on
site to advise customers about the banks product portfolio. Erste Bank plans
to open 30 large advisory centers in large rural towns, and 17 light service
branches in highly-populated locations in Vienna that provide advice on
simple products, such as account opening. Customers have access to
an expert for more complex inquiries via video-conferencing in
a specially-designed customer-advisor meeting room.

Transforming the banking branch

The branch as problem solver

First-contact resolution is key to retention. Of the consumers who
switched to another provider due to poor service, more than 80 percent
said they could have been retained, mainly if their issue had been
resolved on their first contact with the bank.5 While bank customers very
frequently use online banking for prospection and access to services,
65 percent of them use the branch to fix problems.
Modern branches need to convert issue resolution to a competitive
advantage, particularly for payments errors, new portfolio scenario
modelling in the banks app and other content-driven problems. To do so,
branches must integrate seamlessly with digital channels. For example, a
customer who is uncomfortable using an online calculator to self-advise
a mortgage decision might use it to first assess what he or she can
afford, then follow up with a visit to the branch. Providing faster, better
first-contact resolutions requires continuous training of branch staff and
equipping them to excel in solving customer problemssuch as specialist
advice around mortgages and pensions.

Commerzbank increases customers

as other banks close branches
In Germany, Commerzbank has undertaken branch consolidation following
its merger with Dresdner Bank, and has been capitalizing on its experiences.
By targeting its marketing activities toward customers of competitors
who are closing their branches, the bank has been able to drive its own
growth strategy. Alongside the slogan the bank at your side the branch
is playing an important role, especially for more complex products such
as handling mortgages and major investments, and is a vital ingredient in
Commerzbanks multi-channel market presence.6


Accenture Strategy Global Customer Pulse Research 2015

Transforming the banking branch

Branch transformation
Modern bank branch networks must be innovative, providing highly
personalized contact in the context of being digital ambassadors,
advisors for complex services and problem solvers. Simpler, yet more
comprehensive, they need to diversify branch types and integrate digital
services. Such branch networks can give customers multiple and flexible
service options, 24 by 7. They could also lower banks cost to build by
33 percent and their cost to operate by 25 percent,7resulting in greater
business agility, competitiveness and growth.
Banks canand shouldstart now to transform their branches, taking
three key actions to protect and grow their customer base:
Rethink the network
Using analytics-driven customer insights to make better decisions and
match branch elements (for example, sites, types, in-branch features and so
on) to local target preferences, particularly millennials.
Upskill branch talent
Equipping branches with the right soft skills and technology capabilities to
engage customers, solve their problems quickly, offer advice and sell more
products and services.
Rewrite branch key performance indicators
Assess customer engagement using survey results, increase digital connections
via branches, such as clicks and apps, and monitor metrics ongoing.

By streamlining and modernizing branches to offer

better service, reduce costs and improve the customer
experience, banks can fully exploit the competitive
advantages of a digital world and become an everyday
bank that makes the best use of its strategic assets.

Accenture analysis

Contact the authors

About Accenture

Frederic Brunier

Follow us on Twitter

Accenture is a leading global professional services

company, providing a broad range of services and
solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology
and operations. Combining unmatched experience and
specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all
business functionsunderpinned by the worlds largest
delivery networkAccenture works at the intersection
of business and technology to help clients improve their
performance and create sustainable value for their
stakeholders. With approximately 373,000 people serving
clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives
innovation to improve the way the world works and lives.
Visit us at

Watch us on YouTube

About Accenture Strategy

Dr. Christian Ptsch
Friederike Stradtmann

Stay connected

Connect with us on LinkedIn

Copyright 2016 Accenture

All rights reserved.
Accenture, its logo, and
High Performance Delivered
are trademarks of Accenture.

Accenture Strategy operates at the intersection of business

and technology. We bring together our capabilities in
business, technology, operations and function strategy
to help our clients envision and execute industry-specific
strategies that support enterprise wide transformation.
Our focus on issues related to digital disruption,
competitiveness, global operating models, talent and
leadership help drive both efficiencies and growth.
For more information, follow @AccentureStrat or visit

This document is intended for general informational purposes only and does not
take into account the readers specific circumstances, and may not reflect the
most current developments. Accenture disclaims, to the fullest extent permitted
by applicable law, any and all liability for the accuracy and completeness of
the information in this document and for any acts or omissions made based on
such information. Accenture does not provide legal, regulatory, audit, or tax
advice. Readers are responsible for obtaining such advice from their own legal
counsel or other licensed professionals.