In Part 1 of our Branch as Your Superpower series, we addressed the opportunities for banks and credit unions to maximize their branch channels as we continue emerging from COVID.
With branch visits on the uptick in 2021 over pre-pandemic levels, the percentage of people visiting branches is now at 77% and holding steady. On why the branch means so much to people, Gina Bleedorn, CXO of Adrenaline says, “People want to be close to their money. Psychologically, they want to know their bank is there even though they may not often want to go in.” In her recent presentation at Future Branches, she stresses, “Having a physical bank presence just matters to people.”
Not only did consumer attitudes and behaviors around the role of the branch change during COVID, we also saw another shift – this time in consumer switching sentiment. “Pre-pandemic, a lot of people may not have liked their bank, but the hassle of switching? I don’t have time for that,” according to Gina Bleedorn. “In 2019, the last normalized year, 4% of people switched financial institutions. But today, up to 24% of consumers and 25% of small businesses are saying they’re considering switching. That’s six times as many potential switchers.” This openness to change coupled with crucial access to the branch means financial institutions must step up their game to meet customers where they are.
While it might be tempting to think switching attitudes represent a threat, Gina Bleedorn says, “Switching banks represents an opportunity to capture consumers and use the branch as leverage to do so.” Before the pandemic, most banks and credit unions were aware they needed to make changes to their branches. Yet, when executives planned for rightsizing their networks, they might have considered more widespread closures. “So, you wanted to close some of your branches? You can’t because people want to come to them,” according to Gina Bleedorn. “But let’s get to the real problem, which is this: For the most part, the branches you have are not the branches you need, where you need them.”
To make informed choices about the branch network, decision-makers need to understand market dynamics showing where there is real opportunity. Gina Bleedorn says, “Yes, it’s about population growth, but it’s a lot more about room in the market for your brand.” Using the most relevant data integrated into an ongoing feedback loop will result in the best decisions. Four key data sources include: market data, mobility data, competitor data, and a financial institution’s own data. On a bank’s own data, Gina Bleedorn says, “It’s important to get relevant data of your branch performance, your people, your customers, and what’s happening in your organization, and connect it to these other data sources.”
In addition to an organization’s own data, mobile data represents a major advance in understanding consumer patterns and behavior. Mobility insights can uniquely identify precise traffic patterns, area trends and demographic profiles. Using geofencing, mobile data shows who’s passing by your branch, where they live and key factors about them. “With mobile ability data, you’re able to see where your trade area is,” according to Gina Bleedorn. “This data shows that your trade area may not be what you think it is. It’s not necessarily a perfect little blob around your branch; it looks more like this crazy Swiss cheese. And, what we’re able to see then is who these people are and how they compare to the MSA.”
In the next installment of our Your Branch as Your Superpower series, we’ll explore how to use powerful data inputs to create a network transformation plan that includes a spectrum of actions, from saving to expansion.
For more information on optimizing the branch banking channel, stay tuned to Adrenaline’s Insights and Believe in Banking as we track the big trends impacting financial services and informing the banking experience. To speak with one of our branch experts, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (678) 412-6903.
Adrenaline is a brand experience company that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.