By : Shelagh Munday
April 23, 2018 12:30 PM
The value of the bank branch may be open to debate, or at least the cost to benefit ratio is. But one thing we know from various research notes, is that the importance of the human element means that bricks and mortar branches with face-to-face services will not disappear completely, even though they are under threat.
We should also think about another intangible benefit to the physical branch that is even harder to define, let alone measure: branches help remind customers that the bank actually exists. Selling products is what makes branches key to the value chain and the benefit to the brand marketing strategy also makes a compelling case for maintaining a physical presence.
You cannot simply forget the fact that customers are used to seeing branches in their towns. If anything, this makes the case for transforming branches into relevant service delivery models all the more important.
There is a definite argument for having branches on our street corners and we should not see them as a loss leader by any means. Keefe, Bruyette & Woods analyst, Fred Cannon, explained recently how the value of the bank branch goes much further than just selling products; it’s crucial to the brand’s very identity.
“The presence of branch networks has projected a sense of identity, solidity and ubiquity to customers that has been critical to maintaining a bank’s brand,” said Mr. Cannon. “We believe banks will need to replace branches with greater investments in brand.”
While the possibility of serving customers better and with fewer branches cannot be ignored, banks should not merely view their physical outlets as a set of numbers on a balance sheet that either justify their existence or not.
A key consideration to branch transformation is to ensure your brand will continue to reach your market and consumer.