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Is the retail bank branch really dead?

Coin counting machines, ATMs and other self-service tools can help financial institutions find the right balance of service in today's rapidly changing industry. Despite what recent trends may suggest, banks have every reason to continue investing in quality service at individual branches. The financial services industry has changed dramatically in recent years, offering a number of new convenience options for members interested in accessing their own account information from laptops, mobile devices and other remote locations. However, a recent survey from the management consulting firm Accenture has shown consumers still place a high value on the brick-and-mortar retail experience of banking. 

The report, titled "A Critical Balancing Act: U.S. Retail Banking in the Digital Era," stressed the importance of simplifying many of the traditional service strategies at local bank branches. By conducting interviews with 2,000 users at retail banks across the country, Accenture found 38 percent believe investing in individual branches should be the top priority for financial institutions seeking to update their traditional tactics. Even though digital technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, a large number of Americans continue to visit brick-and-mortar locations on a regular basis. In fact, the survey revealed 78 percent of respondents claimed they expect to continue visiting their banks either as frequently or even more often over the next five years.

Closing branches is a bad idea
Financial institutions that neglect to update their brick-and-mortar locations in exchange for investments in new digital technology are missing out on valuable long-term business opportunities. Two-thirds of respondents in the Accenture survey said they would view a local branch closure as more than a minor inconvenience. In fact, such an occurrence would lead many to consider changing banks.

Instead of eliminating brick-and-mortar establishments, today's banks have unique opportunities to improve the in-branch experience and better target changing consumer behaviors. For example, U.S. News and World Report said many financial institutions have benefited from investing in new end-user technology people can access when they visit their local bank. Self-service coin counting machines represent one such tool that can ultimately attract more business in the long run. Not only do these services provide an easily accessible solution for turning coins into cash without the help of a bank employee, but they also encourage repeat visits that may ultimately increase overall retention rates. Advancements in technology aren't limited to the Internet. Local bank branches can easily incorporate interactive, convenient tools into the in-store experience. 

December 10, 2013