With the growth of electronic and digital channels, the banking industry is constantly debating about: WILL BRANCHES DISAPPEAR SOMETIME?
Brett King, author of the bestseller Bank 2.0 (and its recent sequel, Bank 3.0) seems to predict the disappearance of bank branches, particularly in his book "Branch today, Gone tomorrow". After all, in a world where the virtual seems to move inexorably on the physical it does not sound illogical: how many libraries around the world have disappeared because of Amazon, video-clubs, mail (at least for letters), traditional encyclopedias …
And this seemed to be accompanied by statistics of branch closures, along with the desire of bankers to reduce the cost per transaction, clearly much higher in care "face to face" in the self-service channels and essentially digital ( web and mobile in particular).
However, recent figures show, for example in the United States what appears to be a reversal in this trend. After three years (2010, 2011 and 2012) where there were more closures than openings of new branches, in 2013 banks in the United States opened more branches in total than were closed (according to the figures of the FDIC). Banks opened in the US in 2013 a total of 3,000 branches, the highest number since 2009.
It should also be noted that there was a process of mergers and acquisitions that accelerated the closure of branches in this period. Does this mean a return to the personalized attention to the detriment of the digital channels?
I believe that definitely not. But in my opinion this indicates that the new user ("omni-user"?) does not think as yet it is widely believed in the industry: in channels. The user wants to choose according to their need, the time, place and their own tastes and how, when and where styles interact with banks. And this clearly includes branches. What this new model of user definitely does not want is that banks impose them to go to a branch for a particular transaction. But sometimes, some users require personal assistance than any other "channel" can´t provide as good as branches.
Brett King himself, as disruptive analyst - and by the way such as founder and CEO of a bank 100% virtual (www.moven.com) in a closer reading, attributed to the branches a role within the customer care strategy, not their complete disappearance. Of course, with a strong impact on the branch model to deploy. Eventually the branch must be an interaction point with a very specific purposes, perhaps the most precious resource for resolving situations of certain complexity or sensitivity, while a model of differentiated attention and addressed to groups of users who have special characteristics, tastes and needs.
In short, I believe that the branch should become a point, consistent with the design of user experience interaction, not a silo. You should be prepared for integration with other channels, be flexible to adapt to the characteristics of the user groups for which it is designed and operate with maximum efficiency.