There is a future for the bank branches.

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1 There is a future for the bank branches.

2 About the research This report is based on the results of a quantitative survey of 700 branch banking customers during the summer of The aim of this research is to understand what customers expect from their bank branches and how these expectations will evolve in the future. It specifically looks at primary customers likes and dislikes about their branches. The answers to these questions have far-reaching implications for retail banks in terms of how they can improve the customer experience at branches. The research addresses all Belgian retail financial institutions and samples retail, personal and business customers. Although this report focuses mainly on retail banking customers in Belgium, a similar study was also conducted in The Netherlands, of which some elements are presented in this report. 2

3 Foreword In uncertain times, it is crucial for banks to maintain a competitive market position. This may mean refocusing their customer and channel strategies. The currently restricted availability of capital means that both management and stakeholders are demanding that strategic decisions are underpinned by fact-based evaluations of the alternatives. This report is meant to provide a better understanding of how customers feel about their bank branches, their expectations, and their likes and dislikes. Every new technology prompts predictions of the end of retail bank branches. Emerging channels such as the internet, ATMs, self-service banking, call centres and mobile phones have always triggered questions about whether the 4,200 branches in Belgium can survive. Although large amounts are invested in branches, do banks really know what their customers want? Branch design and layout are clearly part of the customer experience, but they are not the most important differentiating factors for customers. Do bank branches still make sense for the customer? And if this is the case, how should banks then use the branches to deliver the best value? The results clearly show that branches are here to stay. Focusing on what Belgian customers are really looking at in their retail bank branch, this report will be of wider interest for two reasons. First, it summarizes the customer experience and expectations about Belgian bank branches. Secondly, it analyzes the Belgian retail market and draws conclusion in terms of branch strategy. The survey was conducted before the start of the current banking crisis. It would seem safe to assume that recent events will have further reinforced the threats identified, such as low customer loyalty and lack of confidence in banks, and reduced levels of trust even more. Patrick Callewaert Partner Deloitte Belgium, Head of CRM Consulting Group for EMEA Prof. Dr. Kurt Verweire Partner, Associate Professor in Strategic Management, Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School, Competence Centre Entrepreneurship, Governance & Strategy There is a future for the bank branches 3

4 The retail distribution landscape is shifting from a branch-dominated paradigm to one of integration and balance between multiple channels. Nevertheless, the branch remains a key channel for Belgian retail banking customers. The new paradigm demands a fundamental shift in the position and role of the branch. 4

5 Executive summary Branches are important for the customer Our customer survey confirms that the branch is still highly valued by Belgian customers. Bank branches are highly visited. 79% of personal and 89% of business customers visit the branch at least once every 6 months against 59% and 84% for internet banking and 65% and 44% for self-banking. Although internet is used for getting information on financial products, visiting branches is the preferred channel during the whole sales cycle. 71% of personal and 79% of business customers consider the branch as their preferred sales channel. Most customers would not carry out complex transactions or apply for complex products entirely via direct channels. 72% of personal and 65% of business customers would certainly not apply for complex products entirely online. Most customers would like their banks to review their financial positions and proactively propose relevant offers to them. 80% of personal and 65% of business customers expect more proactivity from their banks. Some customers are even willing to pay for face-to-face contact and professional advice. 23% of personal and 35% of business customers are willing to pay for professional and personalised advice. The survey indicates that Belgian retail customers demand face-to-face contact and will continue to visit their branches. However, they are not very satisfied with the services provided by their current branch and bank. Better customer service and access The survey highlights that customers are not satisfied with branch services and access. Advice provided at the branch fails to satisfy 1 out of 3 customers. 27% of personal and 30% of business customers are not satisfied with the quality and the promptness of the advice provided. Access to the branch is too limited. 38% of personal and 41% of business customers consider the possibility to make appointments after closing time as the main area for improvement for branches. 1 out of 2 customers believe that bankers act in their own interests. 50% of personal and business customers think their banker acts mostly in his own best interest. Banks do not know sufficiently well their customers. 50% of personal and 39% of business customers do not think that their bank knows their history and current situation sufficiently well. Banks will have to address these issues if they are to reconnect with their customers and control churn. According to our survey, 10% of personal and 12% of business customers intend to change their main banks in the next 6 months. One model does not fit all All retail banks do not need to develop a branch network. Banks need to adapt their branch and channel strategy according to their strategic positioning. Our analysis has identified four types of banks and two branch strategies: Universal banks and Community banks need to implement a multi-channel strategy that fully integrates their branches. Discount banks and Direct banks will focus on direct channels. The branch is seen as a trust contributor rather than a channel. It is used as a window to deliver brand promises and supplement the customer experience for highly, profitable customers. Additionally, our research shows that customer needs and habits can vary dramatically from one country to another, certainly between Belgium and the Netherlands. Belgian customers value the relationships and advice they have in face-to-face branch contacts much more than their Dutch neighbours. In the Netherlands, the internet is the key channel for getting information on financial products, with the branch channel playing a more supportive role in closing the sale. This dissimilarity means that role and strategies are different for the branches in the Netherlands and Belgium. There is a future for the bank branches 5

6 Customers demand face-to-face contact and will continue to visit their branches, but are not satisfied with the services provided by their current branch and bank. 6

7 Bank branches are important for the customer Despite the growing influence of direct banking, our survey shows that the branch remains the key point of contact with the customer. We observe a considerable adoption of new channels by retail banks customers, among the 700 customers interviewed, only 17% of the personal and 10% of the business customers did not use any direct channel in the past 6 months. PC banking is more and more well liked, 70% of the respondents did use PC banking in the past 6 months, and 55% did use self-banking. Not surprisingly, older respondents (>65 year) and respondents in the lowest social class use the least of these channels. Figure 1 - Branch visit How often do you visit a branch (not Self or ATM)? Personal customers Nevertheless, 42% of the residential customers and 76% of the business customers visit a branch at least once a month (see Figure 1). This percentage is even higher within the senior (>65 year) and inactive respondents. Business customers 1 / every 2, 3 months 1 / every 6 months 1 / every 2, 3 months 14 % 1/ month 23% 1 / every 6 months 1 / year 5% 1% 3% 8% 7% 11% 1 / year Less often Never 8% 4% 9% 19% 1/ month Less often Never 21% 13% 1/ every 2 weeks Several times per week 4% 11% 1 / every 2 weeks 8% 1 / week Several times per week 31% 1 / week There is a future for the bank branches 7

8 Customers are using the internet for getting information on financial products while visiting branches is the most preferred channel by far for buying and for after sales. In terms of channel preferences, the branch appears to be the favourite channel during the whole purchase cycle while the internet is mainly used in the beginning of the cycle, to search for information (see Figure 2). For getting information: 58% of the personal customers and 37,5% of the business customers prefer to visit or call their branch against respectively 36,5% and 25,9% choosing internet. For buying and after-sales: Visiting and calling the branch is the most preferred channel with about 80% of the respondents choosing this channel to buy or get after-sales services. Figure 2 - Channel preferences Preferred channel for getting info on financial services 48.2 Personally visiting a branch Calling local branch / AM Other sites on internet Other Personal customers Business customers Bank sites on internet after-sales buying financial products 4 7.1

9 The branch adoption can be explained by the need for face-to-face contact. This is the most expressed branch advantage, with 65% of customers identifying it as the main reason for going to a branch rather than using direct channels. Even further, 25% of personal and 33% of business customers claim to be ready to pay for face-to-face contact. Customers choose channels on a holistic basis; multiple paths are therefore possible (see Figure 3). Figure 3 - Multiple purchasing paths Illustrative paths Branch Client A Internet Client B Contact Centre Client C Inspiration Orientation Buy After-sales As a conclusion, banks should give customers clear directions on where and how to find what they want, not just within channels, but between them. The customer should never be blocked during his purchase cycle whatever channel(s) he is using. Banks should make channels work well separately and together to enable customers to become informed via one channel and finalize a sale via another channel. There is a future for the bank branches 9

10 Customers are not ready yet to carry out complex transactions or apply for complex products entirely via direct channels. Only very few customers appear to be ready to apply for complex products entirely via direct channels. 72% of personal and 65% of business customers would certainly not apply entirely online for insurance, investment, retirement, credit or mortgage products (see Figure 4). Figure 4 - Extent to which customers would carry out transactions or apply for products entirely by phone or online Personal customers Carry out financial transactions % certainly probably % 42 Apply for payment cards % certainly probably Business customers % Carry out financial transactions Apply for payment cards Apply for investment products Apply for insurance products 7 Apply for investment products Apply for retirement products Apply for retirement products Apply for insurance products Apply for credits / loans Apply for credits / loans Apply for mortgages Apply for mortgages Certainly 10 Probably Probably not Certainly not Certainly Probably Probably not Certainly not

11 Customers would like their banker to be more proactive and are even ready to pay for professional advice. Customers are demanding more than just the execution of transactions from their banker. 80% of personal and 65% of business customers expect their banker to provide advice and to proactively contact them (see Figure 6), especially Generation X and Baby Boomer customers. Moreover, some customers are even ready to pay for advice: 23% of personal and 35% of business customers assert that they are ready to pay for professional and personalized advice. Figure 5 - Proactiveness of the Bank % yes The bank pro-actively contacts me to propose and sell their products and services I feel every contact knows my history and current situation The bank pro-actively contacts me when changes occur in my professional or private life Branches do not know their customers To offer more personalized services, branches should first get to know their customers better. The survey reveals that 50% of personal and 39% of business customers think that banks do not know their past and current situations. This perception is due, at least partially, to marketing campaigns reaching the wrong customers: 60% of personal and 57% of business customers do not feel targeted by appropriate campaigns I feel targeted by appropriate marketing campaigns I have experienced a lack of communication within the bank 22.7 Personal customers Business customers Figure 6 - The role of the banker Which main role would you expect from your banker? % Providing advice, but only when asked for Pro-actively contact me when he considers it useful Customer insights should be captured across all channels: any customer interaction is informative, every contact with the customer is an opportunity to further define his preferences, needs and expectations towards the bank. Transitioning to more seamless IT platforms (i.e. a single customer database interfaced with a multichannel CRM tool) can provide banks with the highly vaunted single view of the customer, which holds the key to enhanced customer service Periodically contact me for a financial update Executing transactions only The proactivity of the bank and knowledge about the client are perceived as average by a significant number of customers (see Figure 5) Personal customers Business customers As the key point of face-to-face customer contact, the branch is in a good position to capture the voice of the customer. The branch should gain complete and up-todate knowledge of the needs of their customers, make sure to get a clear understanding of these needs, and attempt to demonstrate this understanding each time the customer visits the branch. By capturing customer data, branch employees can play a significant role in creating insights for service personalization. There is a future for the bank branches 11

12 Banks should meet service expectations of customers to increase trust and satisfaction. 12

13 Branches need to enhance the customer experience Banks should address the main customer concerns: provide greater access and convenience, and deliver higher quality advice. Figure 9 - Areas for improvement Branch dislikes 39 Waiting lines and time Poor friendliness and politeness staff Opening hours Anonymous relationships Lack of privacy / discretion In order to meet customer requirements, banks need to improve their branch access, for instance by expanding opening hours, allowing appointments after closing time, improving queue handling to reduce customer waiting time, etc Personal customers Business customers Figure 10 - Areas for improvement Branch improvements Possibility to make appointments after current closing time Shorter waiting lines More room for privacy Providing more flexible opening hours and reducing the waiting time is only a start. To enhance convenience and access even more, banks should go further and optimize the branch environment. The survey shows that Belgian customers do not value fancy design very much. Focus should be on understanding the customer flow in the branch and adapting branch design, but also the way the staff interact with customers accordingly. Careful consideration should be given to how customers move around a store. Queuing is one of several steps in a customer visit; entering, looking for information, making a transaction, making a sale and leaving play equal roles in a customer experience. The physical separation of different branch modules can significantly improve the customer experience, especially when combined with clear signage More automated facilities Trendy and appealing branch design Provide greater access and convenience Our survey reveals that access is the prime concern of customers visiting branches. Customers are bothered with long waiting lines and limited opening times. 38% of personal and 41% of business customers consider the possibility to make appointments after closing time as the main area for branch improvement Personal customers Business customers There is a future for the bank branches 13

14 Provide higher quality advices Regarding the advice provided, bankers do not satisfy customers: 27% of personal and 30% of business customers are not satisfied with the quality and/or the promptness of the services provided. Figure 11 - Banker advices When you ask your banker for information about financial products, do you feel that you get: 73.1 A quick and satisfying answer A quick but not always satisfying A satisfying but not always a quick answer Rarley a quick nor satisfying Personal customers Business customers 14

15 The survey explains that customers are sceptical about the advice received in their branches. They believe the banker acts in his own best interest. This is very likely to hurt customer loyalty and retention capabilities. To build customer loyalty, bankers should evolve from tellers to trusted advisors (see Figure 12). Trusted advisors know their customers and deliver attentive, individualized services. They have sufficient information about the past, current and expected future financial situations of their customers to select the best offers for their customers and proactively propose these to them. Staff turnover is another explanation for customer dissatisfaction. 36% of Belgian personal and 48% of business customers consider that personnel turnover affects them. Senior respondents (>65 year) especially care about staff turnover within the branch. Banks should review the typical career path of branch staff to reduce employee turnover, which has a negative impact on the customer experience. They should adopt the necessary incentive plans to retain employees. Figure 12 - From tellers to trusted advisors Active advisory Basic Offer Trusted advisor Develop a good understanding l Potentia depth ip onsh of relati of clients private and professional circumstances Act in best interests of the client Deliver attentive, individualized services Focus on professional advice, not on products Tailor services Offer an account management for most valuable customers Promote evenly the product offering to all customers Provide reliable basic services Manage customer care reactively (complains handling, after-sales assistance, etc.) Degree of trust required There is a future for the bank branches 15

16 16

17 Banks need to restore customer trust. Branches risk losing their customers Very alarming is the fact that a significant number of customers do not trust their banker and that some of them are ready to change. 50% of personal and business customers think the banker acts mostly in his own best interest and 10% of personal and 12% of business customers intend to change their main banks in the next 6 months. The higher the revenue, the more likely people are to move to another bank. 53% of personal and business customers do not think that their bank differentiates from its competition. How to reconnect with customers? Banks should first address the main customer concerns: provide greater access and convenience, and provide higher quality advice. Figure 8 - Change assessment Intention of customers to change their main banks the next 6 months Figure 7 - Trust assessment The banker acts mostly 11% 11% 89% 50% 39% Don t know Yes In your best intertest No In his best interest There is a future for the bank branches 17

18 Bank branches are important for customers but not all retail banks need to develop a branch network. 18

19 One model does not fit all Banks need to adapt their branch and channel strategies according to their strategic positioning. Different branch strategies are possible Four different strategic positionings can be identified in the banking retail industry (see Figure 13). Universal banks serve all customers and differentiate themselves by focusing on services and offering a large product breadth. Community banks offer specific products and services adapted to theneeds of their customers. Discount banks offer the best prices to their customers and leverage direct channels to attract customers in a cost-effective approach. Direct banks concentrate on direct access and convenience with a limited product breadth. Figure 13 - Two main branch strategies Strategic positioning Distribution Strategy Universal bank Community bank Integrated multichannel strategy Integrated Channel Branch is part of a multichannel strategy Customer Branch Strategy Discount bank Direct bank Direct channel strategy Not a Channel Branch is a physical presence Customer Branch role The branch manages customer relationships, provides advice and completes sales of complex products and processes quality leads stemming from direct channels. Branch role The branch should be considered as a trust contributor. It is a physical presence that reinforces the branding of the bank and supplements the customer experience for highly profitable customers. Key success factors Strong multichannel capabilities People with right skills (advisors, experts,...) Appropriate selling approach Easy access and convenience Key success factors Key localisation of the branch Ease and flexibility to make appointments across channels Close collaboration with the mobile sales force to enhance reach There is a future for the bank branches 19

20 Customer needs differ substantially between Belgium and the Netherlands leading to different models and roles for the branches. Take into account local preferences Simultaneously to our Belgian survey, a similar survey was conducted in the Netherlands, the comparison of the results reveal major differences between the expectations of the Dutch and Belgian customers (See Figure 14). Belgian customers value much more their branches than their Ducth neighbours and have a stronger connection with thier bankers. This can amongst other be explained by a strong preference, by the Belgian customers, for face-to-face contacts in the sales process (cited as the first reason for visiting a branch for 63% of the Belgian customers versus only 25% for the Dutch). On the other hand, Dutch customers will pay even more attention to convenience and access to their bank (through direct channels) and personal advices being not key in their sales cycle. Those evidence leads to a different role of the branches in the customer experience of the Dutch customers. 20

21 Branch Role BE Need for face-to-face contacts Branch network is key Proactive advice required Access and Convenience NL Preferences for remote channels Branch is a secondary channel Advice required on demand Channel Preferences Figure 14 - Customer needs variation The Netherlands in the Netherlands, the usage of bank websites is the most preferred channel for all services, face-to-face contact being less important for Dutch people Self-Service Banking is lightly used in the Netherlands Belgium In Belgium, visiting a branch is the most preferred channel for all services, mainly because of the need for faceto-face contacts Self-Service Banking is heavily used in Belgium In the Netherlands branches play a minor role with only 9-14% of customers visiting a branch at least once a month Belgian customers are much more inclined to purchase in the branches with 42-51% of customers visiting a branch at least once a month Dutch customers are open to advices but they prefer to take the initiative themselves: only 15% of customers expect their banker to proactively contact them when he considers it useful Belgian customers are much more willing to receive advices with about 30% of customers expecting their banker to proactively contact them when he considers it useful There is a future for the bank branches 21

22 Conclusion The retail distribution landscape is shifting from a branch-dominated paradigm to one of integration and balance among multiple channels. Nevertheless, the branch remains a key channel for Belgian retail banking customers. The new paradigm will demand a fundamental shift in the position and role of the branch. The customer survey confirms that the bank branch is still highly vaued by Belgian customers. Figure 15 - Banking channels retail distribution landscape Intensity of transactions is set off against the intensity of sales and services for the different banking distribution channels 1980s ATM/ SSB ATM ATM/ SSB Branch Internet Transactions Intensity Internet Branch cc cc Mail Mail Alt Mobile cc Branch Mail Sales and services intensity Branch Direct (Contact centre, Internet, Mobile) ATM/SSB Alternative F2F Mail Relative importance for clients Low High The position of the branch is shifting from a main transaction field to a place for providing high value services and advises. This integrated and balanced landscape is necessary for serving the different customer segments. Retail banks should carefully consider the role of their branches and develop them accordingly. Universal banks and Community banks will typically use their branch networks as key channels while Discount banks and Direct banks will focus on direct channels, assigning a branding role to the branches. The branch network will remain key in the new distribution landscape of Universal and Community banks as customers still value the opportunity to ask their questions, negotiate and close the sales in a face-to-face encounter. But the new paradigm will demand a fundamental shift in the service offering of these branches. To attract and retain customers, universal and community bank branches need to deliver a seamless customer experience. To do so, branches will have to operate efficiently in a multi-channel environment, providing customers with more proximity, greater access and convenience, and the required personal and professional advice. Finally, customers needs vary from one country to another; banks have to take them into account to build their branch strategy. 22

23 The branches remain important for the customers and are a key element in delivering an uplifting multi-channel customer experience. There is a future for the bank branches 23

24 Contacts Deloitte Belgium Patrick Callewaert Partner, Head of CRM Consulting Group for EMEA Alexandre Gangji Senior Manager, CRM Consulting Group Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School Prof. Dr. Kurt Verweire Partner, Associate Professor in Strategic Management Competence Centre Entrepreneurship, Governance & Strategy Deloitte provides audit, tax, consulting, and financial advisory services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. With a globally connected network of member firms in 140 countries, Deloitte brings world-class capabilities and deep local expertise to help clients succeed wherever they operate. Deloitte s 165,000 professionals are committed to becoming the standard of excellence. Deloitte s professionals are unified by a collaborative culture that fosters integrity, outstanding value to markets and clients, commitment to each other, and strength from cultural diversity. They enjoy an environment of continuous learning, challenging experiences, and enriching career opportunities. Deloitte s professionals are dedicated to strengthening corporate responsibility, building public trust, and making a positive impact in their communities. Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu, a Swiss Verein, and its network of member firms, each of which is a legally separate and independent entity. Please see for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and its member firms. February Deloitte Consulting. Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Designed and produced by the Creative Studio at Deloitte, Belgium

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