The Changing Face of Branch Banking

In numbers that far outstripped other regions, consumers in Asia are fast adopting mobile technologies in their daily lives. As an increasing number of consumers use their mobile devices to conduct banking transactions, many wondered if this is the death knell for the physical branch. However, instead of becoming obsolete, brick and mortar bank branches are being reinvigorated by technology.

Complementary touchpoints

DBS’ efforts in creating an intuitive online banking experience has resulted in greater convenience for its customers and in turn enabled the bank to allocate greater resources to sales and advisory services at its branches.

Face-to-face personal interaction between consumer and banking officers remains essential in establishing trust for longer term and more rewarding relationships. Many consumers still prefer to speak to a banking officer for advice involving significant financial decisions even though they may have started their research online.

Hence, to create a positive customer experience, it is important to have an end-to-end view of the customer journey and ensure that customer touchpoints complement each other. By doing so, DBS was able to leverage the strengths of each channel to effectively engage its customers.

DBS also innovated the way customers access basic banking services such as cash withdrawal, which was traditionally offered through branches and ATMs. For instance, DBS formed strategic tie-ups with partners such as 7-Eleven, Guardian Health & Beauty and Sheng Siong, allowing its customers to withdraw cash from close to 700 outlets in Singapore. Such initiatives also further the transformation of branches and reshape banking behaviors.

Branch transformation

In Singapore, DBS incorporated human-centred design (HCD) thinking into its flagship branch at Marina Bay Financial Center and overhauled the traditional retail banking experience. The intent was to optimise customer’s time and to make the branch visit simple and delightful.

Key improvements included:

The transformed branch banking experience is now being progressively implemented across other branches. Transformed branches have reduced customer wait time by more than 10%.

Other than changes to the branch banking experience, consumers may also notice that bank branches have become more compact in size. This allows DBS to increase its presence in areas such as community spaces, which often have very limited space available for commercial entities.

Ultimately, the future of branch banking lies in investing in innovations that place customers at the centre of the banking experience.