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Out with the Old: 6 Bank Branch Mainstays That Need to Go

Justin Smorawske


Much like most fellow retail industries, banking isn't immune to the need for change. Physical branches in particular might prove the most difficult to adapt to a landscape that drifts further from traditional on an annual basis.

But it's not without hope - here are a few attributes that might be worth remedying in your brick-and-mortar locations.

Old-School ATMs

You might be clinging onto that green-screen classic until the bitter end. But news flash - it's already the end. Don't let a severly outdated ATM set the tone when someone walks in your branch or goes through your drive-up lane. As self-serve kiosks increase in popularity, your ATM will say a lot about you. Look into the varied options available to you now in modern ATMs. It's more than withdrawals and balance checks - it's deposits, it's transfers and it's a host of other convenience services you might not even know are available via your machine.

Leading with the Checkbook

Sure, checkbooks still have their sporadic uses in your daily life - not every merchant or service provider has jumped on board with card-based or contactless payments. But the fact that such a vast majority of payments and deposits are made electronically should tell you that, when selling your checking accounts, it might be a good plan to stop leading with "checking." It might be time to refer to your accounts in a different way - whether that's a "deposit account" or a "debit account" or even a "card account." The checkbook should really just be an added perk, rather than the main event.

Drab Surroundings

There was a time when beige walls and brick inspired confidence in financial decisions - stalwart, solemn buildings said, "Your money is safe here." But times have changed, and drab is no longer the way to go for a bank branch. Generationally speaking, your newest and largest customer base is going to want to see branding, personality and uniqueness. This isn't to say you should do away with your history - just think of interesting ways you can juxtapose it with new styles that usher in a new era for your institution.

Wide Open Spaces

From the outside, a big bank branch insinuates a storied history, a large customer base and an authority in the community. But on the inside, unless you're bucking trends and bringing in a lot of foot traffic, an expansive and largely empty bank branch reads "ghost town." Downsizing your physical space can be a big boon to the impression you leave. Being efficient and thoughtful about how you use your space is key to giving the impression that you're sleek, streamlined and - proportionally speaking - frequently visited.

Teller Counters

The modern banking customer wants to engage on equal footing with his or her teller, and the traditional, unapproachable teller counter separating customer and banker is creating an unwanted barrier. So get rid of them! Who needs the counters when you can walk amongst your customers? Get your tellers on the move with tablets in hand to speak with customers, who can take a comfortable seat in the branch instead of standing in an agonizing line. Walk them through opening a checking account, applying for a loan or depositing a check in a personable, conversational setting.

In-Branch Expectations

Now for some truth-telling. There's some merit to the argument that the brick-and-mortar branch is dying. Does this mean you should pack it in and start closing locations? Well, only if it's financially prudent for your own specific situation. But a much better way to look at it is to temper your expectations for the business you're doing in-branch and amp up your efforts on the web- and digital-based fronts. Look for ways to potentially cut operating costs of your physical branches if they're a strain on your budget (and consider the above tactics to prevent this from happening without a concerted effort).

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