In today’s world, the largest taxi service owns no cars. The largest lodging booking agency owns no hotels. With the shift in our society towards digital services, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that banks are also being impacted. When a customer can go online and take care of all their financial needs, bank design needs to change to continue bringing consumers into the bank. Here are some hot trends we’re seeing as a bank construction company that are driving new bank design.
1. Casual Like Capital One
When ING was taken over by Capital One, many patrons were concerned that ING’s casual approach with their Orange Cafes would become a thing of the past. However, instead of getting rid of the casual atmosphere, Capital One began to integrate this cafe-like casual approach into its other locations. With the broad markets available for its customers and the push for more customer-centric experiences, this change has made a huge difference for the financial giant’s bottom line.
Lounge chairs, meeting rooms and communal tables make it comfortable for patrons or new customers to hang out. Charging stations, free Wi-Fi, fee-free ATMs and financial coaches to help with digital banking needs are just a few of the amenities being included in these branches. This makes data accessibility vital to the design operation, which may require the addition of Wi-Fi repeaters or careful planning of the structure to ensure building components, such as expanded metal lathing, do not impede signal strength. This approach is breaking down barriers seen in traditional banking and creates an environment that is almost the polar opposite, making it a great option for bringing retail banking into the new digital age.
2. Go Contemporary Like Europe
A trend quickly gaining ground in Europe and now in the US is using highly contemporary design. The addition of organic materials, such as natural wood textures, are combined with modern office looks like exposed ceilings to create fresh, simple, clean lines. This is a huge change from traditional bank design that is focused on maximum security and separating the banker from the customer. Though this has traditionally been used to put the banker in a position of strength, it’s quickly going by the wayside in today’s contemporary banking environment.
At the same time, the space is designed to create a marriage of digital and physical banking. This combination makes it easier for retail bank locations to compete with the agility of financial tech startups. The open, minimalist workstations make it easy for patrons to get help and take care of their financial business. It’s about tearing down the counters that separate the teller from the patron. It’s about making it easy for bankers to sit down and help their customers find the best possible solutions for their financial needs.
3. Add in the Biometrics and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Of course, with digitization comes digital technology. Biometrics is being used increasingly in banking to improve accessibility while reducing issues with fraud. Adding fingerprint sensors are a common way to add security to work stations and interface technology in the modern bank branch. Other options include voice recognition, finger vein scanning and similar technologies. Currently in development are charge cards that have fingerprint readers on the card itself.
Supercomputing and analytics are leading to the advent of artificial intelligence. It provides opportunities to improve in-branch experiences without adding staff. Though it sounds a bit like science fiction, RBS has begun trials of an advanced human-based AI called Luvo, which can understand questions and then filter through information in a matter of seconds to develop an answer. When it can’t answer the question, it will create an exception and hand the question off to a human at the branch.
4. Bringing Banking to the People
With numbers showing that most people only stop by their stand-alone branch bank a couple times a year on average, banks have had to take a different approach to get people in the door. "The banking industry is building less traditional stand-alone branches and focusing on updating their existing facilities," said Eric T. Slazyk, a Principal with Arcwerks Incorporated, a top architecture firm in South Florida with several retail bank clients.
One option that has been popular is by partnering with a larger store, such as a Wal-Mart, Meiers or Kroger and having a small branch office inside the store. The convenience of stopping by the bank while out shopping helps deliver efficiency for the customer. Though these locations have started as miniature branch banks, technology is quickly reducing the staff needed as ATMs, interactive tellers and secured tablets provide access to banking needs.
5. Make it Comfortable and Welcoming
But in addition to being more casual, technically integrated and a strong step away from traditional bank design, what else is needed in retail bank design? Digitization is blurring banking lines while creating a more customer-centric approach. Rather than using the intimidating design of the past, new banks will have a comfortable, welcoming atmosphere that empowers the consumer.
Towards that end, many banks are now incorporating warmer, more organic materials in their design. The trend towards European contemporary style often supports this end by including lighter wood tones, simpler overall design and an eye towards both aesthetics and ergonomics. By creating a space that puts clients at ease, it’s much easier overall to ensure they’re comfortable doing business in that setting and with that financial institution.
Though digitization and disruption are rapidly changing how we do business, banks that navigate these changes and adapt to new business models are seeing strong gains in the market. If your bank is considering making a change to an existing location or need help planning a new office, please feel free to contact the experts at GSD Contracting for assistance. We’ve been serving South Florida for over 35 years with exceptional quality and customer service.