The first pilot branch created by allen international with Santander has been launched by Group Chairman, Ana Botin, and Spain CEO, Rami Aboukhair, in Madrid.
Key to the concept is the delivery of a full financial service offer with a strong promotion of self-service and online/mobile banking channels.
The space has been fundamentally designed upon the Santander values of Simple, Personal and Fair and provides a relaxed yet engaging space for customers to interact with relationship managers.
As the first of a number of pilot branches to be unveiled around the world it has already received a great response from staff and customers alike.
Speaking to reporters during the launch, Ana Botin said: “We have aimed for the branch to revolve around the clients giving them quick access to all services.”
She then stressed the relevance of the new branch concept towards reaching the bank’s target of thirty million digital customers by 2018.
Comments on the branch model design from Richard Benson – Innovations Director at allen international
There are 3 key aspects of the project that we at allen international are most proud of:
We really wanted to deliver a space that from a technology perspective utilises digital communications to engage more with the customer. That is not to utilise digital technology for the sake of ticking a ‘digital innovations’ checkbox, but to develop a communications channel that connects the brand it’s products and service with the consumer. Instead of simply replacing posters with screens we have designed the space to orientate the customer towards the digital touch points and present them in an engaging and easily accessible way. These touch points include the initial modules in the Digital Banking zone where customers can explore and enrol in the use of the online banking and mobile banking apps with the assistance of staff, and the larger digital focal screen within the active waiting zone where customers are presented with digital messages explaining the banks products and services whilst they relax and await meetings. Above all else the design strategically integrates digital to the customer journey to ensure it engages and enriches their overall in branch experience. These digital engagements compliment the improved one-to-one interactions with staff – not replacing them – and assists to engage the customer even more with the brand and it’s complete offer.
Implementation Costs / Budgets
Like in all retail projects today, the financial sector is looking for great value from revitalising its physical channel. It was clear from our initial strategic brief that any design we developed for Santander must be applicable to countries and regions right across it’s global real estate. Therefore, a key challenge of this project was how we could radically enhance the customer experience in branch through design, improving it’s performance and ecological credentials whilst also meeting very competitive cost budgets. Every detail, element and component of the design has had to be carefully value engineered in order too meet agreed budgets and to arrive at a design that is as cost effective as possible. This has resulted in a design that is functional yet embodies great value, whilst embracing an appropriate and human warmth.
A key objective for the branch design was to project a sense of openness and transparency for the retail offer and this can be most simply seen in the design created for the branch facade. By stripping away the traditional blinds, curtains and overpowering graphic promotions cluttering the branch windows we have been able to re-engage customers with the offer inside the branch and like all great retail spaces actually entice the customer to enter. This also projects an impression of simplicity, accessibility & transparency in the way in which the Santander brand interacts with it’s customers. We have worked with Santander to create a unique design for the interior space that embodies and projects the brands personality; its confidence, dynamism and warmth. It was always our objective to create a space with a stronger more unique and contemporary image much more attuned to the brand itself. This also included a complete re-think of the branches materials, form and interior palette, its furniture and finishes. This is evident immediately upon entry to the Self Service Zone containing full function ATM’s, digital banking and welcome areas. Utilising a reflective red perforated ceiling canopy and contrasting warm wood flooring, these elements unite to create dynamic interior ‘envelope’ that present and elevate these important services whilst setting the visual tone at the start of all customer journeys. By shielding the branch tellers from view when entering the space by the large digital focal at the heart of the interior, the ambience changes dramatically from a transactional offer towards a more relaxed advice and consultation experience. When designing the customer / adviser meeting areas we strived to create a working balance between privacy for the customers and visibility for the Santander consultants. Creating areas that feel hospitable and far more focussed on the meeting taking place and never like back office workspaces in which the customer is intruding, so they feel totally relaxed to discuss their day to day needs and financial futures.
“Developing a universal branch concept for Santander worldwide was an exciting challenge for us. We had to take into account 9 very different markets and various branch formats around the world. At the same time we had clear strategic goals; the migration of customers to alternative channels through the introduction of online/mobile banking, all within a cost-effective implementation budget and design that embodies the brand proposition, Simple, Personal and Fair. The result is a new customer experience that provides greater customer service and enhanced digital engagement in-branch.” – Michael Allen, Group CEO of allen international