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4 Strategies to Put the Branch “Back on the Map”

The viability of physical branch locations is often debated in the financial services industry. Recent data from Accenture Strategy however, proves the need for branches; account holders still go in-branch for a large number of transactions and a wide variety of needs.

When account holders were asked “How frequently do you seek advice on offers and rates?”

  • 48% once a month via the internet
  • 44% once a month via ATM
  • 23% once a month via branch

When asked, “How frequently do you access financial services?”

  • 64% once a month via the internet
  • 61% once a month via ATM
  • 42% once a month via branch

Higher digital adoption for financial services isn’t news, but this data suggests something different: that today’s account holders do product research online, and then go in-branch to conduct the physical transactions.

With this in mind, there are four key ways financial institutions can ensure branches remain relevant and useful to account holders.

Increase Omni Channel Touchpoints

You’ll need digital channels: mobile banking, social media, and ways for account holders to apply for accounts and loans online, but in order to ensure physical locations thrive, branches need to marry with the digital banking touchpoints.

A way to do this is to create online campaigns that drive foot traffic into branches, or to offer special incentives if account holders conduct business in-branch.

Remember: while the branch is no longer a “must have,” it should be a fully integrated part of the omni-channel customer experience strategy.

Increase Efficiencies at the Bank 

Even if an institution’s customer service and technology platforms are efficient and well-received, savvy modern consumers desire brands to be consistent in every way they’re marketed: online, in-person, and with print. Are you dropping the ball on the way your print marketing materials look in favor of devoting more time and energy to digital?

BRAD (Brand Resource and Distribution) by Harland Clarke makes ordering print collateral a self-service marketing initiative, so it’s not a question of “either/or.”

Increase relationship banking efforts 

Institutions of today are very focused on deepening the relationship with account holders. While digital can be a great way to get new account holders in the door, relationship building is (and has always been) an art best done in person. Ways to deepen relationships with account holders in the physical branch include: generating more personalized advice via a one-on-one consult, delighting account holders with branded gifts, and delivering customized “kits” of financial advice and offers upon account opening. These are things they cannot get while browsing or conducting business online.

Prepare Branches for the Future

The recent trend of branches shrinking in size (footprint wise) does offer one major advantage: more branch locations. Instead of having ten 3,000 square foot branches, banks can now have thirty 1,000 square foot locations. You’ve likely already seen these new “smart branches” in your local grocery store or shopping center. As the number of branch locations increases, so does the need for one portal to seamlessly order and deliver consistent materials among them. You do not want a rogue bank in Kansas ordering materials in the wrong size and color, or printing off an unapproved offer only available in Tennessee, and the way to make sure it’s all done appropriately is to route it through one branch marketing platform.

BRAD by Harland Clarke can take the friction out of marketing for multiple branch locations. From signs, to special offers, to promotional banners, the BRAD online portal enables marketers to order approved, compliant, and on-brand materials for any branch, anywhere in the country. By having one place for all print marketing materials, the institution saves both time and money without having to skimp on customer service or overall brand experience.

Click here to learn more about Brand Resource and Distribution by Harland Clarke

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Harland Clarke Corp. is a leading provider of best-in-class integrated payment solutions and marketing services, serving multiple industries including financial services, retail, healthcare, insurance, and telecommunications.

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