Customer Experience Measurement Implications of Changing Branch Networks
The branch network is evolving based on banking’s changing economic model as well as changing customer expectations and behaviors. As the branch network evolves measurement of the customer experience within the branch channel will need to evolve as well to fit both the changing economic model and customer behaviors.
Deb Stewart’s recent article “The Branch Shrinks” in the June 2014 edition of ABA Bank Marketing and Sales used the experience of Sweden as an example of how the branch operating model in the US may evolve in response to these changes. Ms. Stewart describes Sweden’s branch operating model’s evolution in four primary ways:
- Branches will be less monolithic, with branches tailored to location and market;
- Branches will be much smaller and more flexible;
- Customer facing technology will be more prevalent; and
- Branch staffing both decline and change with increased use of “universal” associates who will conduct a wider range of functions, transforming tellers to sellers.
The article goes on to describe five case studies for innovative branch design in the United States.
Most commentary suggests branch networks will be redefined in three primary ways:
- Flagship Branches: Hubs to a hub and spoke model offering education, advice, and serving as sales centers.
- Community Centers: Branches smaller in scope focused on community outreach driving loyalty.
- Expanded ATMs: These will serve as transaction centers at in-store or other high traffic sites.
In short, there will be a variety of branch types, many staffed with fewer employees, each with a unique role, presenting three customer experience challenges:
- Consistently delivering on the brand promises despite disparate branch types – Does the customer experience reinforce the overall brand promise?
- Fidelity to each branch’s unique role within network – Does the customer experience fit the specific role and objectives of the branch?
- Huge challenges associated with a transformation of skills to universal associates – How do we conduct a massive transition of skills of tellers into financial advisors, fluent in all bank products, and manage these associates fewer less employees on site.
The customer experience at flagship branches will best be measured much like it is at traditional branches today with a mix of customer satisfaction surveys and mystery shopping. A random sampling across all interaction types will ensure that all of the services offered at these education and sales centers are evaluated. Mystery shopping should focus scenarios on sales scenarios across all retail product lines, evaluating sales effectiveness, quality of experience and compliance.
Community Center branches offer the greatest need to refine customer experience measurement, and opportunity to use it as a management tool. Universal associates, with broad skill requirements working in lightly staffed branches, mandate that the customer experience be monitored closely. Post-transaction surveys across all interaction types should be used to evaluate employee skill level, appropriate resolution of inquiry, and consistency of service with brand promise. An automated email or mobile survey will provide managers with a near real time view of the customer experience at fraction of the cost of other data collection methods. Mystery shopping across a broad range of scenarios will evaluate employee skill level and appropriate referral practices for mortgage and investment services to Flagship branches or Video Bankers. Fewer employees will allow for better tracking of the customer experience at the employee level, which will be a necessity given the increased expectations on these employees with less onsite management.
As with the other branch types, a random sampling of all interaction types will yield a valid sample of transactions these branches perform. As with the other branch types, automated email or mobile surveys will provide a near real time view of the experience. Mystery shopping may be used to evaluate service interactions with video tellers, investment advisors or tellers.
Evolution of the branch network, particularly with changes in the staffing model, will require changes in how the customer experience is monitored. The good news is survey technology is evolving as well, and will give managers the opportunity to gather intelligence on the customer experience in a highly efficient and productive manner.
For more posts in this series, click on the following links:
- Introduction: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design
- Customer Surveys: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design
- Mystery Shopping: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design
- Leverage Unrecognized Experts in the Customer Experience: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design – Employee Surveys
- Filling in the White Spaces: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design – Social Listening
- A New Look at Comment Cards: Best Practices in Bank Customer Experience Measurement Design – Customer Comments & Feedback