By Keith Hamilton | February 25, 2015
As retail banks evaluate “Branch of the Future” strategies for optimizing their branch networks in the Age of the Customer, it’s worth looking at other industries that get it right. Creating a great customer experience requires an OmniChannel approach, where every brand interaction – via mobile, computer, brick-and-mortar, etc. – is consistent, and consistently good. It’s not enough to have a good product. Customers have come to expect a great experience with the products they buy – from research to purchase to service. Especially service. For the branch of the future to be successful, customer service must be treated as the most important facet of every channel, including self-service banking interactions.
It’s safe to say that Apple produces a great product. The company would not top the world’s most valuable brand list if they didn’t churn out great products. However, it’s their mastery of in-store service that has inspired countless companies to try to emulate Apple’s process. Do not be fooled by the casual, airy atmosphere of the Apple store. The way the employees interact with customers is highly scripted and rigidly controlled. According to an employee training manual reviewed by The Wall Street Journal, Apple details it’s 5-step service process using A.P.P.L.E:
The focus is less on the hard sell and more about creating a great experience for every customer, and it’s working. No wonder everyone wants to be Apple. Their in-store sales are now estimated to be $4,551 per square foot, another list-topper.
One of the reasons Apple tops the business, revenue, brand value and sales-per-square-foot lists is because of their ability to breed a cult-like group of loyal fans. Yes, it’s partly because of the really cool products. But more importantly, Apple has created a really cool, really different retail experience that makes their customers feel good. And when people feel good, they keep coming back.
Banks that want to engage customers using branch channels should put a heavy emphasis on the kind of service they deliver. Upselling and cross-selling will be important for the branch of the future as they continually try to drive ever higher revenues. Ensuring these sales strategies focus on enriching the customer’s life and offering intuitive self-service banking, as opposed to simply conducting a transaction, will make a huge difference to the customer service experience.
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