“The branch is dead.” “Everyone is going mobile.” “New technology will trump branches.” Have you heard these or similar phrases recently? While our society (and banking) is certainly going more mobile, don’t underestimate the power of the branch.Branches

That’s according to Randy Schultz, vice president of marketing for The Weber Marketing Group. As part of CUNA’s Marketing Management School, I had the opportunity last month to hear Randy talk about retail branding.

“People have been saying for years that branches are dead,” Shultz commented. “People like going to stores, they don’t like going to a bank. We have to figure out how to be more like stores.” 

How are branches still powerful? Schultz pointed to five reasons:

  • Branches represent the “public face” of your credit union
  • Member perceptions are shaped by branch experience
  • Cross-selling is the most effective in-person
  • Relationships, trust and a sense of family are built in the branch
  • Members prefer the “personal touch” with certain transactions and issues

“There are different ways to do retail branding” Schultz said. He noted that recent research from JD Power showed that 31% of consumer PFI decision is driven by branch image. 

Here are some of the practical suggestions Schultz makes to increase the your branch’s retail feel:

  • Build a community room (do something different)
  • Include marketing with the branch project from the beginning
  • Use a “no tape rule” (only allow one tape dispenser per desk); watch for personal clutter
  • Have branch guideline books
  • Have a marketing ambassador (part of whose job is to be responsible for the marketing look) at every branch (this could easily be a teller)
  • Use ipads in the branches
  • Move to teller pods

“Members may not remember what you said or did, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel,” Schultz added. And one of the best places you can make them feel great is the branch.

 

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