Digital banking accelerated over the course of the pandemic with a 26 percent reduction in visits to local bank branches. The shift of transactional tasks, such as transferring funds or paying a mortgage, to digital and mobile banking has shifted the role of the physical bank branch. It's not that consumers are unwilling to visit a bank branch (62 percent of consumers say that they prefer to use banks or credit unions that have a physical presence); it's what they are visiting a branch for that has changed: to get advice.

With day-to-day transactions handled through a website or mobile device, the role of the physical location has moved to appointments and high-value transactions. Of those visiting a branch, 44 percent say they are motived by receiving financial advice. These spaces have become centers to receive financial education and guidance. The future of bank and credit union branches need to reflect this center of financial excellence throughout their facility.

However, in the highly competitive financial services landscape, maintaining consistency and brand value across locations is key to communicating this center of excellence idea to consumers. Instead of looking to complete a quick transaction and leave, consumers will spend more time meeting with advisors. Crafting a space that reflects comfort, trust, security, and authority is more important in this high-value transaction environment.

To convey this meaning to consumers and limit further exposure to risk in a shifting market, these are five areas in facilities maintenance that companies can take to improve their standing and reputation with current and potential customers.

Maintain consistent brand identity

Every bank has its own branding: logos, colors, taglines, and fonts. But a robust facilities maintenance program is also critical to a financial institution's ability to fully realize its brand vision—and positive brand perception is won or lost before a customers even enters the doors. Customers have rightly come to expect excellence in service, product, and presentation—and today’s consumers are more educated and thoughtful than ever before. 

With more options and information available, financial service customers are more likely to seek advice at locations that are consistently clean, welcoming, safe, and functional. This includes everything from the parking lot or building exterior to the quality of lighting in the lobby. Everything needs to communicate confidence and trustworthiness to a potential customer. Value and consistency are key in this regard, and they’re delivered through your facilities. 

Address customer safety

The pandemic put a heightened focus on space cleanliness, and for many institutions, being keenly aware of customer health and safety become a part of daily of operations and customer service.

Trustworthiness is linked to safety. With digital banking allowing most users to avoid having to enter a bank branch, those that do visit a location either have to or are choosing to do so. Accommodating shifts in consumer preference, such as enhancing ventilation systems, creating more open space, or adding in dividers, signals to customers that the location takes their concerns seriously, which builds trust. Companies that adapted to these changes and continue to support them build greater trust with customers.

Focus on vendor qualifications

People are a company's most important asset: from your customers to associates to the larger community. 

However, there's another component that is often overlooked: the third-party vendors that conduct often critical tasks in a facility. This include the maintenance, cleanliness, and repair staff that ensure locations function and look the way they should. It's critical to invest and ensure that vendors and service providers are well-qualified, knowledgeable, and responsive. They should have all required certifications required and be free of any liabilities that might compromise the security and safety of the space. Investing in a thorough vendor sourcing and qualification program, or outsourcing to a centralized facilities maintenance company, is just as important to maintaining brand standards and trust as are customer-facing employees.

Manage organizational liability

Slip-and-fall accidents can occur in a variety of ways both inside and outside a business, and they’re one of the most common forms of liability exposure. Bank and credit union branches carry the potential for accidents in parking lots and sidewalks when not properly managed. It’s important to minimize this risk.

The lack of an adequate facilities management program creates the risk of potential harm to customers and employees. However, there are steps to take steps to mitigate common sources of organizational liability. It focuses on three pillars: proper qualifications, records, and data.

  • Ensure that vendors and service providers are all individually and properly insured. 
  • Maintain accurate service records for all work performed—including detailed notes, before and after photos, and service provider geolocation data to confirm service. 
  • Track services against local weather data and manage services according to need. Use technology to trigger snow and ice management services when snowfall reaches a specific depth.

Limit financial exposure

Facilities management is an important (but often overlooked) source of business spending at many financial institutions. With facilities management not always a top priority, it often becomes a source of unnecessary financial exposure. One common source of exposure for facilities maintenance programs comes down to how facilities services are invoiced, organized, and paid.

Billing errors can be costly and time-consuming to make right, especially since the effort of tracking and identifying an issue often means sorting through hundreds of invoices from dozens of service providers. Digitizing facilities payment and reconciliation systems will equip managers to identify billing and payment inaccuracies that could be the source of significant financial exposure. Using the right technology can automatically check for outlier invoices, missing payments or receivables, and duplicate invoices.

Maintaining trust and security throughout the customer process is critical to financial services locations in the future. A facilities program is central to building this trust and communicates, even subtly, the strength of brand and the institution's values and ability to focus on customers.

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