2020 is finally behind us. As we rise to our feet and brush off the dust left behind by waves of uncertainty, we can all agree that it was nothing short of one crazy ride. We learned a lot in 2020; how to successfully navigate through a global pandemic; how to be nimble and shift at the drop of a dime to meet ever-changing mandates; and, even how to be successful and profitable when the majority of us were hunkered down simply trying to survive. But, to our relief, 2020 is finally behind us.
As we collectively look forward to the promise of 2021, we cannot help but remain focused on the horizon over a sea of opportunity. Our ground is sturdier, our vision is focused, our energy replenished, and our drive is stronger than ever. It is no longer a question of whether you are considering enhancing your customer experience or revitalizing your branch network to improve your bottom line – it is only a question of when and how. It is time to kick off the new year strong and carve out the success that you will ride for the next 11 months and beyond.
To get you started, we have put together a list of the top three design-build initiatives for 2021 to put you ahead of your competitive set:
Perform a detailed optimization study on your retail branch network
An optimization study is a comprehensive look at each of your branch locations with respect to four main areas – the market, competition, financial performance, and the actual branch itself, including the entire site and building and any Covid-19 implications. Only after a true deep dive into these areas can you even begin to see the light on which branches may need to be closed, which need to be relocated, and which require an enhancement or complete overhaul. This clear picture enables you to set priorities, leading the way to the formation of a solid strategic plan for the entire network over the next few years.
The banks that can best optimize their networks for for-profit and performance improvement, modernization, and “showrooming” will outlast the competition. When all is said and done, you will know the exact direction you need to take to drive your branches to success now and for years to come.
Introduce technology into your retail space
In-branch technology serves two purposes – at the basic level, it is the bridge between the next-gen banker and the branch. iPad integration, digital touchscreen message boards, plug-and-play solutions, and virtual conference room integration are solutions that can give the branch the tools it needs to show consumers that it is current, it parallels the digital channel, and that it speaks their language.
The second part is leveraging that language to create a unique experience that hits on the experiential level. In an age where touchscreens and tablets have become a staple of everyday life, the opportunity to integrate them into your branch is not only vital, but it is expected. When comparing interactions between technology and face-to-face, millennials and Gen Z are six times more likely to engage in an experience that blends technology seamlessly with a human touch, as opposed to each of those sectors acting independently.
Plan for efficient Operations Space that can retain and attract key employees
While many banks excel at forecasting and planning, many seem to fall short in providing efficient operations space and well thought out work areas. Rather than having a calculated space strategy that addresses concerns for the foreseeable future, many institutions operate in a reactive manner rather than a proactive method. How many times have you hired an employee with no place to put them? Have you ever had to turn a board room into temporary offices? Have you had several departments that need to work simultaneously together but are located in two different buildings?
While you may have gotten away with this in the past, the fallout from Covid-19 will make this more difficult. The new work-from-home trend, the greater emphasis placed on safer work areas and wellness initiatives, and a more competitive talent pool from which to draw have changed the way banks need to look at their operations and workspace.
A lot of these issues and unproductive processes can be solved by going through a well thought-out, comprehensive space planning exercise. This exercise forces bank management to take a thorough look at the existing and future use of space, the current number of employees, future trends, and employees’ expectations and needs.
2020 was a difficult year that forced many to change direction, priorities, and business plans. Now is the time to get back on track to plan for the year ahead. It is the perfect opportunity to analyze your operational space, hit the ground running, and future-proof your branch for the next-gen banking customer, setting you up for future success and giving you the edge over your competitive set.