How Bank Branch Design Needs to Adapt to the New Normal

By Jeff Baker, posted on June 16, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has profoundly changed our way of life and some aspects aren’t going to go away any time soon. Social distancing, for instance, could be in place until scientists find a vaccine.

Social distancing will have serious effects on the banking industry. How will the needs of customers and staff to be safe change the way we use space in the branch and our support offices? What will banks look like once we can leave our homes but must maintain distance?

In this post, we’ll share some simple changes to implement so your financial institution can serve customers without endangering them or your staff. Ready to find out more? Then please, keep reading!

Inform, Direct, Protect.

Start your health and safety project by informing – post decals, install signs and banners, and counter cards to remind both customers and staff that a minimum 6-feet of distance enhances safety.

Now, help your staff and customers by directing. Floor decal and wall decal arrows indicating traffic flow are important to maintain both the 6-foot distance and to enhance in-branch traffic – in front and back of the shop. Reinforce these with floor decals suggesting where to stand, as in this decal collection by NHSafetyproducts.

And finally, take steps to protect both your staff and customers. Depending on the local regulations and community norms, masks may be needed. Consider supplying disposable “surgical” style masks, especially for your older customers. Hand sanitizing stations at the entry, teller/transaction areas, and in the breakroom are not only good practice but a signal to all that your institution is making an honest effort to take care of all. We have seen one credit union assign a staff member to wipe down the ATM and drive-through teller tube after each customer use – now that signals care!

Physical barriers are an excellent way to reduce risk. Barriers come in multiple styles, from portable to permanently installed. Consider deploying them on teller lines and pods, desks and in conference and board rooms. This must be done thoughtfully, however, to be consistent with your bank’s brand: you may not want to return to the look of thick, bullet-proof barriers between tellers and customers.

Last, the expectation of the human interaction within the branch – and all stores – has changed. Consider contracting an expert, such as an architect, space planner or interior designer, to survey your branches, assess risks, and report out useful changes for the long term.

Any new branch design or adjustments should be brand-consistent. Your customers know and love you for who you are and a thoughtless redesign has the potential to disconnect customers from the brand you’ve so carefully built.

Increasing the Priority of the Drive-Thru Window

For years, banks and credit unions have had a mixed relationship with drive-through banking, yet a large percentage of customers appreciate the convenience – and a bit of personal service – that comes with the drive-up ATM or PTM. Although it’s difficult to add a drive-up lane to an existing branch without that capacity, it may be worth the effort. Technology has created useful alternatives that can be deployed in nearby parking lots – SmartATM’s, ITM/PTMs. If your bank does not already offer drive-thru banking, this could be a good option for your bank to focus on at this time. Drive-thru banking can offer an inviting environment for cross-selling and product education if it features the appropriate company branding and customers feel that they are a priority.

Fewer customers are going to be willing to come into your bank. Diversifying the services that you offer is a crucial part of preparing for the omnichannel future.

Video Conferencing Software Can Help Backroom Staff

While you may want your bank workers to return to work, it’s likely that you’ll only be able to bring a handful of staff back into your branch at first. Robust use of videoconferencing software can help staff communicate with each other and customers.

The pandemic has seen an explosion of videoconferencing in the public consciousness. To make these work for communicating with staff, there are two things you need to do:

  1. Stress the security of videoconferencing
  2. Create a video conferencing room featuring your bank’s branding

Create a professional environment and backdrop for video conference as part of your bank branch interior design. This helps to project an image of professionalism to customers and is yet another aspect of our omnichannel world.

Take a look at some simple tips to help your staff look great while on video conference calls.

How We Can Help You

The new normal has serious implications for bank branch design. From one branch to your complete network, Image 4 can help you make that adjustment. For over 20 years and hundreds of branches, Image 4 has designed and delivered in-branch experiences that present the brand, operate elegantly, and honor your customers’ and employees’ safety and wellbeing. We are ready to help you adjust to the new normal.

For more information, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.