Until recently, the banking industry has leaned traditional, championing the expectation that transactions drive the business, and thus drive the branch. However, as more financial institutions realize change is necessary for survival, they join the ideology that while transactions are essential, they’ll never be the primary driver for one important reason:

Relationships are not built through transactions.

Yes, you can complete just about any transaction via mobile banking that you can in a branch. But financial institutions like C&F Bank that are getting it right don’t see this as a threat to branches; they see an opportunity and are shifting focus to prioritize creation of engaging spaces, designed for in-branch collaboration that can’t be replicated online. And they are following three guiding principles to get there.

1. Understand Your Audience

Whether entering new markets or overhauling existing branches, the industry has changed, and so have customers. Before you can shift a culture to fit those you serve, you have to understand who they are, and their communities.

A tailored Strategic Market Analysis can help identify your best growth path by evaluating risk and potential return of each opportunity using the latest market information and internal performance data. When C&F Bank started the transformation of its branch network of over 30 locations, their market analysis guided specific recommendations in different market segments that balanced high impact with smart investments, as well as the creation of a prototype design and a kit of parts to bring aesthetic consistency.

2. Shift Your Resources

A market analysis isn’t a formality that collects dust, rather it’s a living/breathing tool that guides everything that comes next.

The alignment of research findings and irreplaceable in-branch experiences is where you’ll find opportunities to meet your customers’ needs while shifting their mindset to relationship building from transaction making. It also informs where to invest your resources to grow those relational banking aspects that make the branch experience so valuable.

This process led C&F Bank’s location selection for their new financial center in Richmond; a high-traffic, downtown destination with high visibility to a tech-savvy younger demographic looking for a preferred financial institution to serve long-term needs.

3. Walk the Talk

As C&F Bank Executive Vice President and Director of Retail Banking Matthew Steilberg defines it, “A brand is not what you say, it’s what you do.” It requires ongoing evaluation of where you are versus where you want to be and strategically bridging that gap.

C&F Bank’s new financial center brought customers into an interactive in-branch experience that was comfortable and engaging, delivering the right messages at the right time, with the right intentions. They infused the space with custom brand integration, equipment and furniture, technology, and custom content solutions. These elements within one facility brought together the best pieces of transactional and relational – taking each customer on a unique, personalized journey to deepen connections, while attracting new talent and clients to fuel growth.

See how C&F Bank prioritized in-branch relationships to unlock growth potential. 

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