Data from the 2015 J.D. Power Retail Banking Satisfaction Study (released last week) finds that acceptance of digital channel functionality continues to grow, particularly within certain demographic segments (such as Gen Y and Gen Z). However, data also finds plenty of evidence to support the hypothesis that ‘branches still matter’.

For starters, despite some declines in recent years, branch usage continues to be high. Over 3/4ths (78%) of retail banking customers have visited a branch in the past year, and these customers have visited a branch approximately 15 times in the past year.

Branches also remain a key channel for customers seeking to conduct a ‘moment-of-truth’ transaction such as opening an account or resolving a problem. Additionally, of the six interaction channels measured, the branch is statistically proven to carry the greatest ‘weight’ on overall satisfaction. This is particularly noteworthy when considering that customers only visit a branch approximately 15 times per year, compared to approximately 67 website visits per year. In other words, a typical branch interaction is considerably more impactful than a typical website interaction. In response to this, it is critical for banks to make sure that each branch transaction is an especially satisfying experience for the customer.


Lastly, branches provide banks with an important opportunity to engage customers and build loyalty that may lead to future cross-sell opportunities. Providing value-add services such as offering help with other financial needs, or proactively reviewing accounts and recommending alternative options, are difficult to provide customers who choose to interact solely via digital banking channels. Therefore, it remains important for banks to properly train and coach their employees to identify the correct opportunities for offering value-add services to customers visiting a branch.

Key questions for banks to ask themselves:

  • Are you consistently (and effectively!) tracking and monitoring employee performance on in-branch transactions?
  • Are you utilizing tracking metrics to reward employees for good performance and/or identifying certain branches or markets with the greatest room for improvement?
  • Are you investing in ongoing training/coaching/mentoring that will educate employees on products and services and improve their ability to strategically identify opportunities to offer ‘value-add’ services?
  • Are you hiring employees to fit the ‘value proposition’ you advertise/promote?