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The in-store experience is key to retail bank success

In-store amenities such as self-service coin counting machines at local bank branches represent some of the most valuable conveniences in the eyes of consumers. Many experts in the financial services industry have it all wrong when it comes to preparing for the future. While many retail banks have considered abandoning their physical locations as a result of growth in Internet applications, the overall consumer sentiment is that people still enjoy the ability to seek in-person financial assistance.

The results of the first-ever Bank Satisfaction Barometer survey released earlier this month by the customer feedback insight provider CFI Group may come as a shock to many industry professionals who have stressed the importance of digital banking technology in recent years. The company found the No. 1 factor influencing consumers' decisions to stick with a specific bank is whether it offers access to a convenient physical location. Referrals from friends and family are also highly influential in determining long-term business. It turns out only 2 percent of respondents viewed the option of online and mobile services as important to overall satisfaction.

The reality is that while mobile is often effective in speaking to general banking needs, many individuals still depend heavily on either more nuanced assistance from live bank tellers or the convenience of accessing advanced coin counting machines to turn loose change into cash - tasks that can't be completed remotely. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, a daily newspaper, said residents in the St. Louis suburb Pagedale have taken kindly to the opening of the first brick-and-mortar bank branch in the town's 63-years of existence. In fact, Pagedale had previously developed a reputation for being one of the most unbanked areas in the U.S.

Financial institutions have unique opportunities to expand business by preserving or expanding their in-store locations and providing a variety of convenient services.

December 16, 2013