In addition to my previous posts, I am going to talk about my experiences with the small banks I visited. The purpose for these visits was similar to the previous visits, in the sense I was looking into the customer experience at each location.
(Again, bank names will not be revealed.)
Small Banks (Under $1 Billion in assets):
My first small bank experience was in Nashville. It was located on the side of a major road in the area. This branch design was different from anything I had seen. It was a very open floor plan, with desks in the open, and stands located at various locations around the space. The staff was friendly, willing to help and attentive. It was a refreshing atmosphere to walk into. As soon as I walked into the door, someone made an effort to say hello, and assure me someone would be with me shortly. This place was packed. I am not sure if it was because of the time I was there (Friday around 3 pm), but it was impressive.
The next small bank I went to was in Franklin, TN. It had the same open floor plan, but it was a little more formal, with an actual teller desk located on one side. The staff members were more than willing to assist me, partly because I was the only person there. After a short exchange with a worker, who gave me some information about the bank, I left feeling like she truly valued my time, and hoped that I would be back soon.
Finally, I visited another bank in Franklin, which just recently finished construction. I was very surprised to walk in and notice the same old bank space. Honestly, it was everything that you would expect when you walk into a bank. No bells and whistles, just a lot of the same.
Smaller banks have a unique opportunity that larger institutions do not. These banks can take risks. Although they need to be careful from a financial perspective that their risk will produce reward, at the end of the day, they are able to try some different things that not all large banks can. These are not the banks who will try innovative ATM machines, or really financially taxing products, but they can lead the way in creating a unique customer experience.
I was also surprised to find that my outfit choices really made no difference in how I was treated by the staff.
After assessing my experiences I have put some thoughts together.
1. It seems like smaller banks have the opportunity to experiment more with how they handle the overall customer experience.
2. Just a simple hello can make a big difference.
3. The average bank branch works. So if it isn’t broken, why fix it?