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Redesigning the bank branch customer journey to increase visits and new product transactions

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1. The challenge

Tools delivered

Contextual enquiry

Journey mapping

User/Choice Context design

User

testing

Pilots and A/B testing

How might we statements

Facing an increasingly competitive market, our client, a financial services provider, sought to optimise the branch collateral as part of its sales objectives and expansionary plan. We were commissioned, as a team of behavioural economists, to modernise the branch design while applying tenets of behavioural science to attract more people into the branches and increase product transactions with in the branch.

Role

Discovery

Define

Design & Pilot

Evaluate Next Steps

Financial Services and Products

Industry

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Team

Member solutions team, Behavioural economics assistant, Branch design team, Advertising design agency, Branch staff, Data analytics team

2. Approach

To identify the key issues we spent time observing behaviour and interactions to explore the barriers to footfall and engagement with the products in the branches, both in the client's branch environment, in competitive contexts, and turning to ancillary examples for best practice. We mapped the current customer journey, identifying issues creating behavoiural barriers and pain points, reframing these as 'how might we' statements to ensure a solution focus.

 

We designed a range of solutions to reduce the effort for people to engage with the content, to better capture attention, enhance the customer experience and improve engagement with product offerings to nudge customers into the branch. These included opening the view into the branch, crafting new messages for the window fronts and wall collateral that were more engaging, punchier, and more reflective of customer value with a call to action. We added window lighting to illuminate posters and improve branch appeal and applied established behavioural design solutions such as progressive disclosure, repetition, and chunking of information. I conducted usability testing with customers and staff members, which informed a number of key refinements to specific messages.

The next step was to increase customer engagement with and understanding of financial products once in the branch. We simplified and collapsed product brochures, presenting the full product range in one brochure. We kept detailed product information out of the brochure. Instead, we added nudges into the brochure to provide an opportunity for the branch staff to give more product detail, supported by scripted conversations.

3. Outcome

We piloted the nudges in six branches against six control branches, in order to test the impact of the nudges. Within the first month, footfall increased by 16% and transactions improved by 9%.  

Research showed nearly all staff were supportive of the changes with 88% saying the changes had improved their ability to have cross selling product conversations.

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A more inviting branch

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Anchor OMF

Optimise the choice context in the last mile, while modernising the low income branch environment

Facing an increasingly competitive market, our client, a financial services provider, sought to optimise the branch collateral as part of its sales objectives and expansionary plan. Historically, the client’s branch environment was outdated and its point of sale content was focused on internal company goals.

 

As part of a team of applied behavioural economists (ABE), I sought to optimise the choice context in "the last mile" - outside and within the branch -  to improve footfall and sales within their branch context. We were commissioned to use interventions informed by behavioural economics to increase footfall into and new sales in branches. With over 250 branches nationwide, these improvements could significantly increase overall product revenue. Branches were typically located in mass market (low to middle income) shopping malls, requiring designed solutions to be practical for high traffic and lower levels of English literacy. 

The project scope included exploring the branch context and behaviour of potential customers in that context, uncovering any issues and barriers to engagement with the products and branches and identifying principles of behavioural science to enhance and influence customer behaviour and experience. In addition, we mapped out, designed and implemented the solution as a pilot, testing for impact against a control. While the nationwide roll-out was out of scope, we made recommendations for roll-out based on the feedback received during the pilot phase.

Identifying the obstacles and mapping out a new decision jouney blueprint

Using the contextual research insights, I mapped these into who, what, where and why to capture the key pain points and opportunities to improve the 'last mile' in the bank customer's product decision journey. I found that the current window posters, wall collateral and brochures were disengaging and overwhelming with long wordy descriptions, irrelevant imagery and were blocking out windows, creating friction to customer engagemnt. A call to action was missing in the collateral and in staff conversations, failing to capitalise on customer attention.

 

To generate solutions, these issues were translated into How Might We statements, which informed a number of targeted behavioural nudges at key interaction points along the customer journey: in the mall-facing branch windows, product brochures, in-branch wall collateral and in the welcome desk and staff interactions. With these I developed hypotheses and acceptance criteria.

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We sought best practice from retail stores, bank branches, Nielsen principles and learnings from cognitive psychology to inform the design. Our redesigned content incorporated aesthetic and minimalist design principles such as white space, chunking, lighting, topic-relevant imagery and progressive disclosure to provide key information upfront - in windows - in a simpler, less cognitively demanding and more inviting manner. Behavioural economics tenets such as a call to action, reciprocity and anchoring were included.

High fidelity prototypes were created with the advertising and branch design teams and tested in an initial wave of research with customers and branch staff to assess suitability. We made adjustments to the collateral and layout plans, informed by the research, and then tested both the practicality and impact of these nudges on footfall and transactions by running a pilot. We kept the client abreast of developments and involved in the decision making through regular, frequent, review and decision sessions.

Progressive disclosure from window to branch wall

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Within the script, which was designed to increase engagement with the product brochure, we trialled a reciprocity heuristic, offering a monetary prize to customers for providing answers to questions in the brochure. In addition, to improve product cross-selling, door signage and product brochures primed customers to become conscious of the full product range, supporting staff in product cross-selling and new accounts.

Piloting proved 'nudges' or design changes were successful, adopted for branch of the future and roll out

To pilot the design changes, we implemented the behaviourally informed nudges and design in six test branches, with these branches selected for having a similar pattern of footfall and transactions against six control branches. We tracked footfall using electronic sensors at the door, but had to adjust the results for non-customer footfall, to provide a true reflection of the impact of the nudges. To account for this, we compared footfall of test branches against control and against footfall in the prior six weeks. To track and compare product queries and sales levels, we received and analysed the client's branch data on customer transactions.

The pilot showed a 16% increase in footfall and 9% increase in transactions in test branches over the control branches over a period of six weeks. Beyond the behavioural changes, research conducted with branch staff indicated the nudges appeared to have a positive impact on customer sentiment and mood, by improving the branch aesthetics and product conversations. 

We were commissioned for a follow-up project to extend the nudges and design principles into a 'branch of the future'. The refined changes were subsequently rolled out across the branches nationwide, by an internal team, over a period of three years.

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