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Planning on remodeling or building new branches in 2016 or 2017? Don't want yours to look like the other 92,997 branches in the US? 

The difference between a “good” branch and an “optimal” branch all starts with the right process and strategic approach.

The first step is self-evaluation – a pillar of success for every major business mogul from Elon Musk to Steve Jobs.

In fact, Steve Jobs had a ritual every morning—he’d look in the mirror and ask himself if he’s happy with X, Y, and Z. If Steve noticed himself saying “no” to a category multiple days in a row, he knew “it was time for a change,” he said.

How do you self-evaluate your own branch network and use it to start building your strategy?

Nothing’s more important than an honest assessment of where you currently are in order to know exactly where you want to go.

DBSI has a scoring card of more than 25 key items we evaluate to identify what is and isn’t working in the branch environment today. We also use it as a tool to identify which branches are in need of transformation the most.

So for that, we give you the DBSI Branch Report Card: A quick peek at the top 10 things DBSI evaluates to help you build a sound branch design and strategy.

Simply give yourself a grade of A (Excellent), B (Good), C (Average), D (Poor), or F (Fail) in each category. Then decide, like Steve Jobs did each morning, if your financial institution is truly where you want it to be.

Click the image below to download your Branch Report Card. Then use this blog as your Cheat Sheet:


To help you fill out your DBSI Branch Report Card, we're giving you a Cheat Sheet! Don't worry, you don't have to hide your Cheat Sheet from the teacher. Would you feel less guilty if we called it a Study Guide? Simply follow the ranges below to determine what letter grade you want to give your branch on your Report Card:

1. First Impression

When you first walk into your branch, what are initial reactions from people? If it’s inviting and spirited give yourself a good grade. If it feels more like a cold, empty doctor’s office, be honest and mark a lower grade. Memorable items equal a great first impression. However, an “Enter Here” sign does not. Remember, it only takes 5 seconds to make a first impression, BUT IT TAKES 8 SUBSEQUENT POSITIVE ENCOUNTERS TO CHANGE A BAD FIRST IMPRESSION. Making yours great is important.

Bad First ImpressionGood First Impression

2. Engagement

How engaging is your branch environment? If you’re utilizing interactive media so people can discover more about your products and services, incorporate a community feel, all wrapped up with connection-creating messaging, give yourself a high grade. But, if you’re displaying dusty brochures, a few pictures on the wall, and a waiting area with some chairs and magazines, give yourself a lower grade. Think about an Apple or Microsoft store and how engaged you feel with everything around you, and how there are so many cool things to learn about and explore–that’s the type of banking experience people are looking for. That’s what keeps people dedicated to you.

3. Level of Service

How are you serving your clients?  If your tellers are trapped behind an obtrusive desk serving people waiting in a long teller line, you’ll have to give yourself a lower grade. However, if you’re providing a more collaborative, open service to work alongside people, give yourself a higher grade. When people are confined to a line and forced to wait for help it creates a negative perception of your service (even if your staff are extraordinarily friendly).

Bad Level of ServiceGood Level of Service

4. People Choice

Can people choose who they want to interact with at your branches? If people are able to learn more about the people who serve them while fostering client-service relationships, mark a good grade for yourself. But, if people are pigeonholed into a random teller, then a random service representative, then maybe even another associate, you’ll have to mark a lower grade. Just like going to the grocery store, people like to choose which checkout person they’d like to interact with, and in some cases it’s the person they always talk to when they shop there. Others prefer self-checkout. Either way, they’re happier because they decided what they wanted to do.

5. Problem Resolution

Does your staff have the right tools and connections to resolve all issues in your branch? If the answer’s yes, give yourself a decent grade. On the flip side of that coin, if your staff has to send people to a call center or somewhere else in the branch for assistance, or worse, make an appointment for another day, this creates a difficult process for your clients and your staff and you’ll mark a lower grade. When someone has a problem, the last thing they want to do is have to wait for it to be fixed. The second to last thing they want to do is to have to jump through hoops to find someone who can fix their issue.

Bad Problem ResolutionGood Problem Resolution

6. Warm Transitions

When a client is working with a teller and needs a platform staff member to complete a request, how is the hand-off made? If people are left alone, told wait, or pointed to go see someone else because your tellers are physically confined to their stations and limited in their transaction capabilities, that’s going to be a bad grade. But, if tellers can easily leave their stations to walk and show clients who to see or what tool to use in the branch then you’re looking at a good grade. One of the biggest frustrations for people is calling a customer service line, being placed on hold for a long time, only to speak to someone who transfers them to another department where they’re placed on yet another hold. That’s the same frustration people feel when they’re told to walk to different areas of your branch to get the help they need.

7. Service Representative Confinement

What is the set up for your platform staff? If you have a maze of hidden offices where desks are in confined spaces, you’re unfortunately looking at a low grade. However, if you have an open floor format where people can openly interact with a service representative while feeling their privacy is protected and they’re still part of the branch environment, then a higher grade is in order. When clients have to sit down at desk or office it implies that this transaction is going to take up a good chunk of their time and afterwards they’ll be sold to. This creates a negative perception of your branch’s service.

Bad Service Rep SetupGood Service Rep Setup

8. Full Service Assistance

If a platform staff member is assisting a client who needs to complete a teller transaction, how is it handled? If it’s done through separate channels, or the service representative has to interrupt the teller line process in order to complete a transaction for someone sitting at their desk (which means by the way that they’ve now left the client sitting there by themselves while taking a transaction away from someone who’s been waiting in line), then sadly you’ll have to give yourself a bad grade. But, if your service representatives are able to remotely connect to your cash automation machines and process a transaction, through CFM’s RTA for example, then easily complete the transaction at the cash machines themselves, then give yourself a good grade. The faster, easier, and more enjoyable the branch experience is, the more people will be excited to come back.

9. Getting Started/Onboarding

Is it easy for people to sign up for all of the services your branch has to offer? If opening a new account, enrolling in online banking, accessing your mobile app, applying for a loan, getting a debit card (as in, right then and there or “instant issuance”) is easy for people to do from within your branch, then check off a higher grade. But, if clients are told to go home and visit your website and sign up for online banking, download your app on their own, or apply for a card and wait for it in the mail, then you’ll have to mark down a low grade. The best experience for people in any retail environment is to have all of their needs fulfilled in one place at one time. Additionally, onboarding effectively creates more loyal clients, too. According to Bain research, clients who use a bank’s mobile channel frequently are 40% less likely to switch to another bank as customers who use mobile rarely.

Bad OnboardingGood Onboarding

10. Attraction

Outside of effective advertising or having to cash a check, why would a non-client step inside your branch? They wouldn’t—and sadly, they don’t.  Traditional branch transactions continue to go down year-in and year-out., but that doesn’t mean people don’t need banking services.  Your branch is also one of your greatest “billboard.” This limits your opportunities to engage both clients and non-clients and damages retention and new account acquisition. So, if your branch attracts people from the outside-in with beautiful architecture, astonishing curb appeal, and visually sells people on your brand 24/7, then you’ve got yourself a high grade. However, if your building looks like one of 20 in the area, doesn’t standout to people walking or driving by, and ceases to exist when the sun goes down, then you’ll have to give yourself a low grad. Building in attraction elements will encourage all types of customers to visit your branch—bonus: even if they bank with someone else.

 So, how’d you do? If the answer is “not so well” fear not, you’re not alone. DBSI has worked with thousands of FIs that used to score quite low in each of these categories. Now, they’re in the A to B range for all 10!

When you have high grades in each of these categories the residual result is greater consumer engagement and higher ROI. Who doesn’t want that?

While self-evaluations are a great starting point, in-depth evaluations and insightful innovation is your next step in the Branch Transformation journey. Learn more about visiting our Ideation Center to improve your grades by clicking the image below: