Earlier this year, Joe Salesky suggested that the physical structure of the teller-customer relationship was long overdue a makeover. “At the Apple Store, no one sits across the counter from you. They sit side by side,” the CEO of CRMNEXT noted. “Anybody at the Apple Store can tell you about any product, it always feels very collaborative, and you’re really not hurried in or hurried out.”
Bank of Hawaii seems to grasped this change in customer experience preferences. On November 12, 2016, the bank launched its Branch(es) of Tomorrow, which has basically done away with the great teller/customer divide.
“From a customer experience standpoint, there was a desire to create an open and welcoming space like you would see in a hospitality or retail setting, yet also providing for privacy for conversations when necessary,” said Kevin Sakamoto, senior evp for branch delivery at Bank of Hawaii. Sakamoto said customers “love” having the employees out in front instead of trapped behind their desks.
Somewhat surprisingly, fintech isn’t a goal so much as a means at these new branches. Instead, the Branch of Tomorrow is built around three customer elements: Connecting with customers and understanding their needs, educating and empowering customers to take advantage of new banking conveniences, and personalizing financial solutions to give customers financial peace of mind.
Technology, in the form of WiFi, tablets, and digital marketing, does come into play in the branch’s daily operations. The bank also has plans to expand its online and mobile offerings, and to move towards a paperless workflow environment.
However, what actually played a larger role in designing the branch wasn’t technology — it was localization. Each Branch of Tomorrow has local branch elements, such as employee name tags with their hometown and a unique, proprietary scent that welcomes customers upon entering the branch.
“A key objective at the start of the project was to have a branch experience that is ‘of Hawaii,’” explained Sakamoto. “The branding elements tell a local story and we consciously incorporated facets unique to the market including the map and art work.”
Localization, combined with moving the tellers out of hiding and making technology more ubiquitous, has made a real impact on the levels of customer engagement BoH is able to provide. According to Sakamoto, customers are really excited about this new breed of branch. With more tech titans like Google, Facebook, and Amazon eyeing financial services, we’ll likely see more tellers moving into the light, armed with technology and inviting premises.