Reframing business purpose

Giving bank branches a new mission in the age of digital banking
The Challenge

An Austrian banking chain contacted us to redesign existing branches in order to be prepared for the future. An on-site analysis showed that their regional bank branches  hardly had any customer traffic—most bank transactions were already being handled online. As a result, fewer and fewer advisory meetings were being held, which also led to lower sales at the bank branches.

Based on our surveys, we proposed to fundamentally question the scope of bank branch functions and to look for ways to bring clients and bank advisors closer together.

The Story

In order to get back in touch with their customers, we suggested curating events from outside the industry, such as exhibitions, readings, film screenings, etc. If excitingly designed, these events would provide potential customers with an incentive to visit the “bank” and give “bank advisors” the chance to get into conversation with people. Bank employees would thus become curators first and bankers second.

Offering alternative services in the bank required a different spatial concept of course! A look at the spatial disposition of various banking functions showed on the one hand that the staff themselves were provided with spacious offices for administrative activities, and customers on the other hand hardly had any room for activities other than cash withdrawals or payment. The typical ratio was about 80:20! We proposed to flip this ratio and to extensively increase the customer space. Bank employees should even find opportunities in the customer area to carry out banking transactions there.

Our findings were echoed in a leading journal for organizational development.