Transforming Brand Experience in Banks & Building Societies, with M. Heanue, M. Shires & G. Copley

Transforming Brand Experience in Banks & Building Societies, with M. Heanue, M. Shires & G. Copley

Transforming Brand Experience in Banks & Building Societies, with M. Heanue, M. Shires & G. Copley

Episode 110

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Episode 110

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In this episode, we dive into brand experience evolutions within the financial sector, branch roles in different communities & how you can build your brand DNA as a bank. How important is your branch placement? What are some brands with great consistency that banks can learn from? Find out more in this episode!

Episode Summary


Bank Branch Model Evolutions

In this episode, we talk about the future trajectory of bank branches & how there is much less reliance on heavy machinery. We emphasise the evolving nature of banking flexibility, cost-effectiveness & the distinction between banks and building societies in their approach to branch operations.

“They say that bank branches don’t make money & people are kind of going away from them… But I think absolutely the opposite. They’re there to make money. They always have done that. They’ve run really well.”


Customer Experience in Banking

CX in banking is everchanging, as the customer is growing over the years, creating new complexities & needs through their life journey. In this episode we provide the insights into the importance of balancing digital & physical banking experiences, the three rules for providing a positive banking experience:

  • Right place: Branches should be strategically located where they are convenient & accessible for customers.
  • Right format: Branch environment should suit the needs & preferences of the local community.
  • Right time: Offering services & support that aligns with customers’ life stages & financial needs.


We also talk about the importance of staff and how they can help elevate brand engagement. Staff can deliver a great customer experience that develops your brand identity in every industry. In this episode, Greg talks about the significance of human-to-human interaction & how it can help brands define their role within communities, through service, education awareness & supporting individuals through their life journey.

Martin also walks us through the DNA of banking, guiding us through the sensorial aspects of customer journeys, giving us real-life examples of banks like Newcastle & Bank of Scotland.

“They need a community aspect to every physical experience they do. It’s in their DNA.”


To find out more about Greg, Martin & Michael, check out our full episode – available on all your favourite channels. Now including YouTube!


This article summarises podcast episode 110 “Transforming Brand Experience in Banks & Building Societies” recorded by CX Insider.

Written by Octavian Iotu

Octavian: [00:00:00.68] Welcome back to the CX Insider Podcast. On today’s episode, we’ll be talking to Michael Heanue, the joint managing director at M Worldwide. Martin Shires the Fi business proposition development manager at glory, and Greg Copley, the sales and marketing director of ACF technologies. We’ll be talking about building brand DNA as a bank branch model, evolutions, technology dependence in a physical experience, and much, much more. Enjoy the episode and if you do, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more content. This episode has been brought to you by ACF technologies global leaders in customer experience management solutions. Now let’s get into the episode. Welcome back to the CX Insider Podcast. My name is Octavian and I’m joined by three special guests today. Would you like to tell us a little bit about yourselves and what you’re passionate about, starting with you, Greg.

Greg: [00:00:50.09] Hi everyone. I’m Greg Copley, I am the sales and marketing director here at ACF technologies. And one thing I’m passionate about is not having bad customer experience. Funny enough, we were talking earlier about many occasions where customer experience goes wrong and I must admit it does drive me crazy. It’s probably why I work in the industry. Many other things I’m passionate about like running and and whatever else. But in particular relating to today’s topic, I’d say that yeah, bad customer experience is something I like to avoid if I can. So that’s me.

Martin: [00:01:19.46] Hi Octavian, I’m Martin Shires, I work for Glory. I specialise in FIA branch banking basically. And yeah, if there’s anything I’m passionate about, it’s this kind of current crop. And it’s not just now, but it’s been for a few years. When they say that bank branches don’t make money, you know, people are kind of going away from them. And I think absolutely the opposite. They’re there to make money. They always have done that. They’ve run really well. I think they get a bit of a bad rap. And I’d like to make sure that’s, uh, disappeared from people’s kind of minds.

Michael: [00:01:48.56] Hi Octavian, so I’m Michael Heanue. I’m from M worldwide, a joint MD at M worldwide. I suppose if I had one thing to talk about today in terms of what’s I’m passionate about, I would say about sort of poor customer service. You know, my wife is always having a go at me because I’m sort of analysing every experience I ever go into where I’m in the shop or I’m in a restaurant, wherever it is, I’m sort of a post rationalizing what happened and what could have been better. So I love it. But I love people and I love studying people, so that’s my thing.

Octavian: [00:02:16.16] I think that’s such a common thing working in like the CX industry. Yeah, coming out of a shop and be like, okay, that experience was really good or like a restaurant. So what are your takes on the banking landscape from a perspective?

Greg: [00:02:30.08] I think the strategic or stratosphere level, I’d say the banking industry is still in a change of flux. I think, in the sense of trying to work out what the true balance is between that digital customer experience and those engagement channels and also the physical. And I guess my $0.02 on it really is that if you can strike the right balance, and I think every, every bank and financial organization can strike the balance, if you can strike that balance, I think you’re going to be leagues ahead of most of your competitors. So that’s probably, I’d say, my take on things as such.

Martin: [00:03:04.70] I guess to Greg’s point, I think that when a major banks or smaller ones, albeit the smaller ones, are a bit more agile, the perfect experience as described by these two gentlemen would be if digitally a bank was able to replicate what a human can do so that the reliability, the resilience, I guess that comes with digital, but with that kind of personalization, and I guess I will come some way to doing that while we’re on the subject. But if you were able to kind of have a conversation with me, Octavian, myself advising you and all of your life events, etc. and I was never ill. I didn’t ever get that advice wrong. That would be a perfect balance, right? But I do think, to be honest, that there are streets away from that and the push to make sure there is profitability in being ahead of the digital arms race means that they’re kind of treading water when it comes to what could really be leveraged to give outstanding customer experience still and a good return, which comes with branch banking. So they’re definitely going to pushing the envelope one way and still keeping, I guess, one leg dangling in a in the branch banking. But but they’re not putting a lot of money and store in that. And I think really to your point balance, there should be an equal kind of concentration on making both experiences outstanding.

Michael: [00:04:17.99] Yeah, I think it’s an interesting one. I think there’s a there’s obviously a lot of negative press around the the way the banking world is changing. But I do think you need to separate out banks from building societies and credit mutuals, because I think they’re under different pressures. That’s not to sort of dismiss the challenges that the banks have. There is a real sort of problem they have in the fact that they’re trying to be sort of cost efficient, and they’re using technology to optimize that sort of banking experience. So when customers are going into branches, they’re really there to sort of move them through as quickly as possible and, and help them complete that transaction and off you go. Whereas building societies, credit mutuals, they’ve got different agenda. You could say they’re sort of culturally different. They’re happy to. Have a conversation and they’re happy to start to build a relationship. So I think the technology is still important, but it’s not the most important part of the experience. And I think that’s the that’s the thing that’s happening at the moment. We’ve got this problem generally in the press. It’s all about banks exiting and and I you know, I understand why I quite honestly I understand why because I think there’s a lot of customers who don’t want to use banks as a physical channel. They want to just go through sort of the other channels and that stacks up for them. And that’s absolutely fine. But there is a cohort of people who actually want to use that and have that sort of physical experience, and that’s the piece that’s sort of missing from the banks, but it’s being turned up in the building society sort of movement, if you like, and credit mutuals. But it’s it’s an unknown really. I think that’s the thing. It’s, it’s lots of customers are not really aware of what’s or potential customers are really what’s, what’s great about the building society experience versus the bad news that you get through the whole sort of world of branch closures from the banking sort of sector.

Octavian: [00:05:57.65] To follow up with that, how do you brands build their DNA during the physical experience?

Michael: [00:06:02.66] There’s two there’s two parts of it really. You’re looking at differentiation as one and then you’re looking at connectivity as another. So one level let’s say one level, neither higher or lower. But on one level you’ve got something like Bank of Scotland. We did work with Bank of Scotland. Obviously it’s the oldest bank in Scotland. 1695 I looked it up 1695 it’s obviously the Bank of Scotland if you like. Their logo is the Scottish Psalter, blue and white. And so from a brand identity or an environmental perspective from an interior environment, we would sort of say, oh, it’s blue and white. There’s a sort of a governor of what the experience is going to be looking wise. But if you use DNA, you sort of start to think about it in terms of a sensorial sort of aspect, you know, how does it look? But okay, but how does it sort of what do you hear? How does it feel like? What does you touch like what does it what does the scent look like? You know, and with Bank of Scotland we did this whole exercise where we, we drilled into what the DNA for Bank of Scotland was going to be looking at all those sort of sensory elements that sort of brought out a sort of an appreciation of the elemental part of being Scottish and the sort of the craft aspects of being Scottish.

Michael: [00:07:08.48] And we sort of turned those things up in terms of the volume of what you see in branch, what you feel in branch. And, you know, we used craftspeople from around the country. We used leather people and mccrostie on the sort of leather items we use Bute fabrics. We had ironmongery from Glasgow photographers or Scottish photographers. We commissioned all these things coming together to make sort of a more sensorial DNA experience as you go through. That’s a point of difference. But as a sort of another level, you could say connectivity. Of course, that was a connecting and customers did identify and so did the staff. Actually, the colleagues really got behind the brand as well for the Bank of Scotland experience. But, you know, on another level you might say Newcastle Building Society because of the fact that their DNA, their story really is all about sort of connecting communities with a better financial future. That’s their that’s their sort of mantra, that’s their tagline. Now, if you say that’s as part of their DNA, they’ve taken that to another level because they’ve said, well, we can’t look at a branch without thinking about our communities.

Michael: [00:08:12.05] And that sort of is part of the mix. You know, it’s like having Harry Kane on the first name of the England team. They need a community aspect to every physical experience they do. It’s just it’s in their DNA. We still delivered and we still delivering the sort of the physicality of that. But actually if you look at the strategic part of that, you know, you’re actually still looking at the mix of what you’re doing for the sort of the kit of parts. And we’ll come to that really about what the kit of parts means, really. But I think the DNA is, is, you know, it can be on so many different levels. And it’s hard to do in financial services because, you know, you’re looking at sort of an abstract product. Basically you haven’t got sort of a really nice bag range or clothing range to sort of say, this is what the brand stands for. It’s an invisible. So, you know, you’ve got to bring it to life in that sort of physical space.

Octavian: [00:09:02.36] So how branch models evolve in terms of location and grouping.

Michael: [00:09:07.07] I think that’s again, you know, I mentioned about the exit of we all know the exit of the banks. But like I said, I’m not knocking that because I think there was very good business reasons behind why a branch isn’t sustainable. And whether you’re a bank or a building society, you’ve still got to have a cost effective branch. You know, you’ve got to have something which is going to make money in the day. Neither of them are charities. It’s just that they’ve got different values which govern their strategy. The banks have got their sort of eye on other channels. They’ve got their eye on network optimization. They’re using technology to make that happen, whereas the the building societies are actually sort of still having that commitment. And whether you’re Newcastle or any of them, there’s it’s in there the mutuality movement to have some sort of presence. And so they are under more pressure if you like to. To think about their sort of network and to stay relevant in that network. And so I think what we’re seeing is within the financial services movement, you could say within banking there’s a retraction, a reduction, but within building society movement, we’re seeing more creativity in terms of the thinking about what it means to have a branch. Their definition of a branch isn’t about, you know, having all these kits of parts, and you have like a sort of a community format in a high street format and a flagship.

Michael: [00:10:29.06] They’re sort of thinking, what do we need to do to stay present in this community? And they’re very flexible on that. So we’re getting sort of a network, what I’m calling a sort of a network ecosystem rather than a set of 2 or 3 formats. They’re being very, very flexible about trying to sort of stay present. And so for Newcastle, for example, you’ve got your traditional branches, which are, you know, perfectly good and working really well, but you’ve also got presence in libraries and presence in communities. That’s the same for several other building societies, I would say, as well. And what’s really reassuring about that is they, you know, they’re prepared to think differently so that they can stay present and, you know, sort of nurture and help the community. It just says that they, you know, they believe in a community and they believe in this sort of the idea of feeding and helping that community to sort of succeed. It’s a really positive thing, I think. So I think the future, you know, to answer the question, I suppose the future is about being more flexible about your definition, your interpretation of what a format looks like, and actually sort of lots of smaller formats which are more cost effective because at the end of the day, you can’t none of these things are going to be doable if they’re not cost effective. That’s a sort of an obvious. I have a.

Greg: [00:11:40.58] Follow up question to Martin. If that’s all right, then, because it’d be interesting to know from your perspective, how do you see or what opportunities do you see for designing banking more around communities in and above what Michael’s covered? Do you see opportunities that lie in either different customer engagements, or do you see it more in the technologies that underpin a branch? What sort of things do you do you see?

Martin: [00:12:03.26] Yeah. So Mike’s absolutely right in all counts there to be honest that you’re right. We go through phases, I guess, whether it be as tech advisors or whether it be as kind of, you know, mainstream banks previously as a leader, as I said, yes, we’re going to have a cookie cutter approach, as you say, you know, major format, high street and then kind of rural and cookie cutter is not an insult. It’s got to be that kind of scalability. And even probably ten years ago, building societies, particularly prominent ones, could be forgiven for doing exactly the same. Whereas there used to be a thing, I guess, that said, have a branch in a place where you’re protecting balances because back in the day and we’re only going ten, 15 years back, that was a sizeable element of how you could lend your money or underpin your balance sheet, for example. And I think, to be honest, with all the tumultuousness that’s happened in the markets in the past dozen years or so, again, that way of funding, particularly now we’re talking about building societies who truly, you’re right, their values, Mike, whether it be us, whether it be Germany, whether it be over here, that community banking element completely embraced that kind of dormant element about themselves. That said, we are the guys who do it for the people, if you like. By the very nature, we’ll obviously kind of continue to acquire products, loyalty, and our business model works.

Martin: [00:13:15.05] But from the technology point of view, to go back to the kind of location and so on, the digitization that are kind of bemoaned a few minutes ago, it’s great for branches. I’ll take 10 or 11 years ago, I was working here in branches in London, and the success of the bank that I was working for in acquiring new customers, because they put together a very simple account, which literally tripled their customers in the UK overnight, and suddenly their branches were full of queues of people and disseminating those who were just doing transacting versus, you know, wanting long term, short term, medium term advice, proper banking, I guess, you know, in a community basis, very difficult to do. That balance, as you said, Greg, was way out of whack. There were ten years, 12 years down the line. Digitization has moved away. Most of the routine things and everybody’s adopted it. Even people who are 90% of their banking is routine stuff. They’ll be doing it on their mobile and what have you. So ten, 20, 30% of their time, they do need to go into branches means that those locations. You’re right, Mike, they can put them where a bank will say, I know the potential for business based on demographics, based on kind of previous balances which are notionally in that postcode, for example, I can afford to put myself there or maybe a shared infrastructure basis, as you say, in a library, etc.

Martin: [00:14:35.45] much less reliance on having heavy machinery, if you like. If I can put it that way, this is big ATMs, big counters. Nowadays all you need is something that says if your customer is coming in, if 75% of their requirement is based on advice and practicality of banking, and they maybe need to do a routine transaction, have technology that can do that, but in a small. Secure format that says, you know what? Yes, of course I don’t need to throw you to some other place in the bank or go outside and use an ATM or whatever it might be and get perfect continuity in the branch here. So at the point of staff roles, which used to be so segmented and therefore regimented and again quite heavy on the salary, means that now I could do advice giving and say, by the way, I’ll come and take care of your little transaction. That is your secondary reason for coming in. All in the one staff role, one staff salary with quite kind of compact ways of doing it, you know, to your point, customer experience, no disjointedness, which is what that cookie cutter approach used to have to be, whether it be by branch format or by the technology that enabled it in the past. Maybe.

Greg: [00:15:45.75] Michael, a question I’d then have to do actually to follow up is if designing branches from a physical perspective. So location and the services let’s say they can account for. Do you do you also therefore think that branches have different roles to play within the communities that they sit in, whether it’s a rural community or a city community? Do you think they actually, you know, need to consider designing or thinking about the overall role?

Michael: [00:16:09.51] I think if if you’re saying that, there’s a hub and spoke scenario where you might imagine that there’s a city center sort of hub which would have all the experts, it would be a place where you’d go, you know, for those sorts of big ticket conversations, potentially. And then out in the community, you could have a smaller offer, which would be a it could be a place where you can sort of turn up and have a conversation, start a conversation, and then sort of end that conversation at the hub. I mean, I think that’s true because I think the what we probably haven’t spoken about is the fact that if you look at sort of customers generally nowadays, they are flitting between channels, you know, they’re going from online, they’re going on to the phone app, they’re going into branch, they’re going back to phone app. You know, if it’s a big ticket conversation, they are very well informed. Normally they’ve done lots of research because there’s stacks out there. There’s too much out there. And that’s part of the role a branch can play. The smaller branches, the village branches, the sort of the town set up that can be a great sort of agitator, if you like, for starting a conversation. It could also be used if it’s set up properly, the minimum kit a party could be used to do sort of most things if you’ve got the technology, as Martin was describing, and today the technology is fantastic.

Michael: [00:17:22.47] It is really small and quite very quick and very easy to sort of get into spaces you can imagine. You can do some small counter transactions or a large count of transactions. You can actually even think about video conferencing. We have found with research in the past, one would think that it would be easy to just do that sort of video call from your kitchen. And for a lot of people, that is a good solution. But some people have young families, they’ve got lots of noise going on, actually. They want some privacy and they will actually want to go to a branch to even to have a video conference call with somebody in another location. The brand, the bank, the building society just need to be able to sort of offer all these services almost simultaneously. And that’s where the challenge of customer experience is, because the people are, as I say, jumping between channels, but they are not getting a consistent customer experience across those channels. And I think the real business end of that is the fact that most banks and building societies are organized by channel, rather than by sort of customer experience line work.

Michael: [00:18:22.17] You know, we’ve done some work in the past where you’ve followed somebody through the pathway of initial. I’m five years away from saving for a mortgage. What do I do now? How do I start and sort of coaching and understanding the pathway through to for that five years of getting somebody to the point where they have a deposit and then understanding what’s the process of actually going through a deposit. So it’s a it’s it’s a sort of a massive sort of long term relationship you’re looking at. And, you know, those people will be sort of checking in on all the channels on all the times throughout that period. So we need to be aware of that. It’s how the customer wants to use the the service, rather than how the bank or the building society is structured. And I think that’s where customer experience is a bit sort of wobbly for, for everybody. And I think most CEOs, most chief execs will point to some stars in branches who are absolutely brilliant, or they’ll talk about the number of clicks to get to a product or service. You know, there is always the sort of the great stories out there. But if it’s if if it’s a sort of consistent experience, that’s the challenge. I think it’s really hard to get a consistent customer experience.

Martin: [00:19:28.23] Thank you. Amplify the origin of that. It’s if we think about going to age groupings, you know, and there I guess there can legend is that a certain age your digital native etc., you don’t need it. But at the same time, fast forward five years to your point, Mike, and suddenly the complexity of life which inevitably follows at 25, 30, 35 because you amass property, partners, children and so on complexities. It’s part of success of life, I guess, to be honest. Inevitably, you know, so you really do. That journey is not even just a. Is on to one that says, can I get a good journey at that time? But to your point is a chronological order, but the development and complexity of the banks and the earning power of the bank’s customers starts to just kind of change. And it’s almost like at the moment you write that siloing necessary in many ways, Mike, you’re right. We can’t say all financial institutions are kind of doing that on purpose. They’re clever. Clever people put a lot of resources into it. But to be able to kind of weave that in, to say we’ve got continually advancing kind of customers, how do we look after them but still enable that convenience? I think there’s kind of three rules really to experience. You’re talking about when it comes to kind of right place, right format we talked about before so that it is genuinely molded around the community and molded around the kind of customers they are, in theory, physically proximate to, but at the same time, kind of right time and right time in the customer’s life.

Martin: [00:20:51.94] That ability to your point, Mike, you were saying of, you know what, two years ago, this is what we were talking about. We’ve got such a great knowledge of your pathway over the past two years and into your next two years, that we understand what kind of channel you want at this point. So we won’t kind of say, hey, let’s just do a telephone conversation or video one. But having that thread that the customer says if they did start off in a little branch, then went to speak to an advisor on an interim basis by video, but then said, I do want to bring my partner in. So we have a 90 minute discussion about our pensions, our buy to let, and our next really big mortgage. So we’ll do that face to face. And they can a major branch. You’ve got a linkage all the way through that that kind of says that you don’t drop off the process of going through that relationship to the point where you’re satisfied, you know, and so many of the siloing, because they’re not connecting up with the customer experience platform. I guess Mike says that they will drop off at those points, you know.

Michael: [00:21:54.19] Yeah.

Octavian: [00:21:55.36] I’ve got a question for you, Greg. So how do you connect the digital to physical space?

Greg: [00:22:01.27] I think it’s a really good question, especially following on from what we’ve just been discussing as such, because we’re talking a lot about the role of the branch and and the purpose it plays. But like, you know, Michael said, a lot of journeys start either online in the research phase or really actually they start to engage online and it could be via the app or website or even contact center. I think we know that’s where the journeys are, but they also change. Like you said, they change between the channels quite often. I think personally, to answer your question really is about a couple of simple things in terms of like the solutions and things that we design, really what sits at the heart of the ones that in particular that are really successful for the brand is whereby, number one, they do keep things quite simple and consistent. So if you wish to engage with someone in a branch or someone at a contact center, especially if you’re designing things around the topic of, you know, a pre-scheduled appointment or something that’s pre-staged like that, having that journey to be simple and consistent across all the digital channels is very much something that I think a lot of brands are working towards. Let’s say I think there’s an opportunity basically to get that a little bit better, because what you tend to see is if you wish to speak to someone at the contact center or speak to someone in branch, or maybe have a video call with with a specialist, that journey just just setting up that meeting looks different.

Greg: [00:23:22.90] And I think that could be quite easily made to be consistent and simple. The second thing which then follows on from that is if if you have that platform and you have that process in place that allows you to create that simplicity, it then opens the door to doing more advanced things like personalization. I think we’re at a place now in 2024 where we can say that the technology can absolutely facilitate a journey designed by the customer. I don’t think necessarily we have to pigeonhole people and, you know, funnel people into one particular customer journey. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for brands to allow customers to design their journey with you. And if they wish to speak to someone at the contact center, first of all and ask a few questions, they should be able to do that, and they should be able to do that easily and quickly. If they then wish to walk into a branch tomorrow just whilst they’re picking up their lunch on their lunch break again, they should be able to do that. A big part of that, if you can preschedule and allow customers to preschedule those interactions in the form of appointments and things like that, that does help massively because the customer can then control when, where and who they’re meeting.

Greg: [00:24:27.43] It also means the business, of course, gets to, you know, prepare better, which is also a good thing. I’d also say on the personalization side of things, a huge opportunity is allowing for the plans to change. And if you look at a lot of journeys where if you’re coming to the branch or you’ve, you know, arranged a call, for example, with someone from the contact center, that’s great if you’ve got it set up. But if you don’t allow the customer to self control that by moving to another time or maybe changing the channel, actually, I didn’t realize I was going to be in town today. I’ll pop in branch if you can allow the customer to shift. We call it channel shifting shift between the channels quite fluidly. I think, again, that is a huge opportunity that very few brands are able to do right now, but the technology can definitely support it. Not saying it’s necessarily the easiest thing and people haven’t thought about it. Like you say, there’s a lot of people putting putting thought into this, but I definitely think it’s an opportunity that is there and is in some respects a bit of a low hanging fruit, to be honest. Um, as long as you can line up the process and the people behind it to underpin it, which is not as intensive as maybe we tend to think it might be.

Greg: [00:25:32.46] Um, I think those two things are sort of keeping it consistent and simple from a digital journey, but then also allowing you then to open the door to actually personalizing that experience. The last thing I’ll say on this topic is a great example of this is if you want to bring a customer from the digital world to the physical world, really, you have to think if that’s your goal. The reason is why you have to give an individual, I’d say, a compelling reason to visit a branch, if that is your objective. And one of the most powerful ways we’ve seen that, especially in the financial sector, relating to everything we’ve talked about with building around communities, is the power of small scale in-branch events and being able to bring people into your branch for a slightly different reason. They’re not necessarily here to talk about a product or a service. They’re here to learn. They’re here to engage. They’re here to meet people. And on some level, they’re here to network and socialize. Those are completely different reasons. And I think if you give your customers the right reasons, I honestly believe that you can transform the role of the branch and add to the value that it plays in the community.

Martin: [00:26:36.39] Definitely. I really think so. And Mike, away from yourself, you know, that that shared space and expanded kind of use case, I guess, where branch makes sense, particularly when we’re looking at kind of it’s not like every brand is going to be able to rationalize and then redistribute in the right format overnight. So it’s going to have to find some use cases for the formats it’s got, which may be breaking even, which may actually even be profitable. But the real estate is just so huge, that kind of just doesn’t feel why should we have something that size there when I’m kind of looking at it, I guess I think from a staff experience point of view, you’re right. Consumer experience is there. And therefore back to that kind of question of balance. You know, someone up top understandably has to orchestrate not only the technology and the customer journey, but will it all cumulate in a profitable or profitable building society at the end of the day? Because these entities going on year after year is what means the consumer experience can get better. And I understand that. It’s just the way that commerce kind of works, people, to your point of compelling reason, there’s a compelling reason coming out from a banking point of view, the conversion for product adoption is much higher people to people. So taking away all the beauty of those conversations, I can persuade Octavian better, typically speaking, to acquire 3 or 4 products on my brand than letting him browse. Even with I prompting you, it’s not arguing the case. You know, that compelling decision to come to me, even though my rate’s smaller and savings are higher, and mortgages. So in that kind of standpoint from the business side, yes.

Martin: [00:28:12.12] And Mike, you mentioned DNA. It’s when you’ve really got to burrow deep in and perhaps it’s a regional bank identity or a national bank identity. But again, that kind of right place, right format, right time in your life. And we see many of the slogans saying we’ll be there for you forever. Possibly not a bank is saying that, but maybe some other thing like Sky or whatever, but they’ve got that. You’re adding to my monologue. I’m adding, yes, orchestration. You know, good staff do what they’re good when they’ve got enough time and they’ve got the systems to be able to do it. I’m talking about things as basic as telephone, good use of time, everybody being in the branch to handle the footfall, whether it be advisory or whether it be routine systems, not kind of you know, or at least having a redundancy so they can rely on all the services, routine or complex to work on that day as well. But the thin thread that goes all the way through to a beautifully designed network, which has got the DNA, the great training that says that I will advise you really well and you’ll feel you want to come back to me. It’s going to be orchestrated by the fact that they don’t drop out of that consumer journey. And the staff can rely on systems, for example, and environments that make that happen, because that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? To be us. That’s why, Mike, you’re brought on by brands to do something because they trust in what you can do, but you couldn’t do it without the right technology. Absolutely. Ready to do that every day?

Michael: [00:29:41.28] Absolutely right. I think technology is underpins everything. You know, these days there’s an assumption that it will work. You know, every time from the customer perspective, particularly the younger customer generation, you know, so I think there’s a sort of a complete dependence on technology. I was thinking about the. The point you’re making, Greg, about how you sort of can manage this, sort of this consistency with people moving between these two, these half a dozen different channels at different times of their lives over that period of five years or something. And what are the elements that you would use to sort of deliver that consistency? And I think the, the one that I’d fallen back on was really sort of a tone of voice, really, because I think whether it’s a question online or a phone call with somebody at a call centre or somebody in the branch, there’s a tone of voice which you could, you know, make sure that is consistent. So that would be a golden thread for me. Um, and that would be delivered through those people you just described, really, because I think the people are obviously the big difference of the physical experience. My job really is just about putting those people on a really good platform and letting them do their job. And of course, I put them on that platform, but they have to have the the technology underneath it. They have to have the sort of structure, the infrastructure behind them to make that happen. And then you get these fantastic stars in branches because they’ve got these tools around them to be able to do the sort of things that the customers love, and then they can sort of sell and they can sort of connect.

Michael: [00:31:10.26] They can really sort of drive loyalty. And I think, you know, if that tone of voice is there on the digital connection, it’s great that it can be seen in branch in the sort of physical reality of those people, and that personality will come through. Greg and I were talking last week and we talked about Monzo, because they’re such a sort of an interesting brand, the personality, you know, when you look at them on social media and, you know, brilliant, you know, and I love I love the sort of the attitude and the language, you know, sort of the idea of what that would look like as a, from a physical perspective would be another question. If you can get that consistency and you can get personality coming through, then you’re going to be differentiated and you’re going to sort of have loyalty, and people are going to sort of stick with you as as that’s the character of that brand. And it’s you need to be quite bold personalities, I think, to stand out with everything that’s going on within the world of social media and everything else. So I think that’s a key point that, um, it doesn’t need to be sort of as mad as Monzo all the time, but it just needs to be sort of a strong personality, really.

Octavian: [00:32:09.66] Are there any examples of brands having great consistency outside of banking that stand out, and what are the key takeaways that financial services can learn from it?

Martin: [00:32:18.69] Consistency. I’m going to take boots as an example, and you guys know boots really well. And silently, quietly. For most of the past decade, we’ve been able to go to boots, book an appointment for, um, flu jabs, etc. things like that. Yeah. Um, and typically speaking, we’re seeing the same kind of staff. It doesn’t see a lot of turnover. I remember reading about this with boots, for example, and it feels like it’s embedded in the community, doesn’t it? Mike, you know, boots is very much been around for a long, long time. It’s kind of, you know, gone through the Cadbury stage where, you know, it was, um, all very kind of horses and carts and there was a couple of glasses of milk and whatnot. And it feels very digital now when you buy a bar of chocolate. But boots is a similar kind of brand. But these guys orchestrate right people, right place, right kind of generalism or experts, for example, for making sure that in the community they do that very basic stuff and get it right where they immunize you and that propagates loyalty for coming back. That, to me is a lot of consistency there and having experienced it myself over the years, because we do, we always get a jab every year, right? You know, when we kind of advance in our decades and what have you. And if that was the baseline of a consumer journey between all of the channels, particularly the human channels, the video, the phone and kind of physical as well, that ability to replicate it would be ideal. Um, so I think if that’s a good example of where consistency works, where we’re not just talking about banking, but I think banking could do a lot by looking at just those very basic things we use without blinking, and we go away with a high level of satisfaction. And yes, they’re employing very complex, very scalable things behind it, but it just means that people keep coming back.

Greg: [00:34:03.06] Yeah, I think it all comes back to something we’ve all been touching on, which is after all of this discussion, the end product are your staff. They are the people that are going to make or break the brand experience. In all honesty. Yeah. Whenever you have a terrible customer experience, if it involves a person, you’re you’re going to know about it because you’re going to share that and you’re going to really feel that personally. But if you can deliver a great customer experience with your staff and you can ultimately empower them to do that, your brand identity will, you know, move through them into the customer and you’ll create that long term brand positive interaction, let’s say. And like I say, it all comes down to defining the role in the community, evolving the role of the branch so that it matches that community and serves that community in, you know, not just the product and the service sector, but education, awareness and let’s say, supporting the individuals through their life. But it’s all done by the people in branch. It’s still done by the people in the contact center. And, you know, the video teams. It’s human to human interaction where you truly do make the difference. I’ve seen. And the better you can facilitate that meeting, the better because it’s a great customer experience. But then empower the staff to do what they do best, which is, you know, serve and educate and deliver great experiences for sure.

Martin: [00:35:13.91] I mean, I think there’s a real inflection point that we’re at just now, that intersection between digital and kind of physical space around the kind of design point. I mean, Mike, you talked a lot about Newcastle and other kind of community focused brands who say, we know we’ll get X amount of return. Our return is great as far as I’m concerned. It allows us to continue to advance what we’re doing, but we’ll make sure that we have a profitable site because we can build them small, agile. We can do any one of ten versions, because those ten versions are so personalized to the kind of shared space that they decide to occupy. Now that says we’re there, we’re in the community as a brand, DNA. And by the way, we’re kind of 3 or 4 people, and I’ve seen this in, you know, the library branches we’ve talked about who rotate around a small office, which is good enough for what they need to do and at the same time provide basic routine transacting, secure, um, and they’ve got a whole kind of gamut across three and a half FTE of individuals that give you top end advice down to just basic good courtesy of how to manage your day to day banking and what have you. And that kind of says to me, from all of the things that we’ve been trying to do on mass, on scale over the past ten, 15 years, but I just kind of staring us right in the face, to be honest, you know, just a little bit of flexibility and imagination and embed yourself in a community location and suddenly you’ve got a bank branch that’s relevant. It’s making money. And what a statement that is to kind of say, wow, we’ll go there because it looks like we’re going to get a great experience.

Greg: [00:36:49.10] We’re also, uh, we’re going to learn a lot in the in the coming weeks because we’ve got the the Building Society Association event that we’re all going to be at. I’m really intrigued to see what the message is aligned to what we’ve said today. I think we’re going to come away from that event with a few new ideas and conversations.

Michael: [00:37:05.18] There is a case for physical branches, you know, and I think but I think the building society movement perhaps is more committed to them than the banking sector. Probably. But, um, if you look at, um, well, apart from access to cash, you know, if you just said convenience, if you just looked at the fact that they, you know, there’s a conversations about complex needs, brand awareness, I would say if you looked at long term customer acquisition, these are all reasons to be a physical as well as as a digital. Of course, it has to be cost effective. You know, it goes without saying with the right thinking. I think that the BSA, that’s part of that conversation. I think more people in the BSA are really trying to think hard about what can we do to make that happen and to make and to keep that, you know, and and for me, the building society movement is like it’s its own best kept secret, because if people in their 20s and 30s looked at what they stand for, you know, which is about supporting the community, nurtured people authenticity, wanting to make everywhere better, then you know, that aligns with a Gen Z and a millennial, you know, sort of sense of values, you know? But for some reason, there’s a there’s just a disconnect. And I that’s a frustration for me because I’d, you know, I’d like to bring that group of people to this sector and, you know, to this, these types of businesses. And, you know, I think it’s a marriage made in heaven, really. It’s just, you know, it’s just one of those it’s the big challenge for me is make people aware of that.

Octavian: [00:38:28.55] And that concludes the end of the episode. Thank you to everyone for listening. I’ve been Octavian and I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation. Let us know what you think by carrying on the conversation on LinkedIn. This episode has been brought to you by ACF technologies global leaders in Customer Experience Management solutions. Now let’s get into some quick fire questions. What is each and every one of your favorite cuisines?

Greg: [00:38:52.58] To me, that’s pretty easy. And it’s Japanese food. Okay. Like sushi, anything like that. I absolutely love it. I had it for lunch today. Oh, you came in here. So, yeah, for me, easy sushi.

Martin: [00:39:03.68] I’m pretty boring to myself. I can exist on seven days of lunch and dinner. Based around rice, pesto and chicken. It’s just heaven for me, you know? But if we can take one thing out of that pesto Italian, I guess. There we go. Okay. Yeah, yeah.

Octavian: [00:39:18.26] Pesto goes with everything. It’s so good.

Michael: [00:39:20.54] I’d have to say probably sort of Middle East and Lebanese, that sort of thing. I love, love a decent hummus and, uh, and sort of pittas and salads and the really lovely sort of deep flavors you get from the smoked paprikas and. Yeah. Yeah. Very good. That’s my thing.

Octavian: [00:39:35.93] I’ve, I’ve noticed that all three of you have amazing watches. Uh, what? The watches. And are there any memories that you have with them?

Greg: [00:39:46.07] My watch was a gift to me on my wedding day from my wife. So. Yeah, very, very special to me. It was a watch that I looked at for a long time. I said, one day I’ll buy it after the wedding. So I was thinking about money and, uh. She, you know, did the research, went, uh, went out and bought it. And so it means obviously a huge amount to me. So. Yeah.

Michael: [00:40:03.76] Uh, well, mine is a sort of an anonymous watch. It’s it’s a handmade local in, uh, sort of in north London. And, um, there’s no, there’s actually no branding on the face. It’s on the back. And this is a bit of a thing for me. I don’t like seeing brands. So I’m my wife would sort of bought this for me. And the brands on the back, handmade local sort of north London watchmaker. Wow. So yeah.

Octavian: [00:40:25.57] That’s it. You don’t want to be a walking billboard, then you just want to just wear like nice, nice things.

Michael: [00:40:30.94] But I don’t like to be, you know, sort of. Yeah. I don’t like to be paying for their advertising.

Octavian: [00:40:35.29] Yeah.

Martin: [00:40:36.10] My are, my two sports are, uh, slalom canoeing and mountain biking. So slalom canoeing, they get wet orange stone stands against all the kind of cool black kit that I’ve got. And, uh, yeah, when I crash, it means the watch doesn’t blow up on impact. Yeah.

Octavian: [00:40:50.08] I thought I would ask that because there’s so many experiences with those.

Greg: [00:40:54.67] I asked you what watch brand do you like? Because I know the answer to this, but I want to ask him.

Octavian: [00:40:59.62] Uh, yeah. I’m a fanboy of one particular brand, Omega. Right? But of course, I’m really young. Like I could never, ever afford it. Or it was an aspirational thing. And since working with ACF technologies, since working with insider, I’ve decided to make like a first year in industry present to myself. Sort of. So I did buy one. I bought a Deville Prestige and it’s really nice. I love it if.

Greg: [00:41:30.49] Elon Musk works it out and we can afford it. Would you go on holiday to the moon? No.

Martin: [00:41:36.88] But only because I think we’ve got a great planet here, right? For anything you could possibly want to do. It’s got rivers, it’s got mountains, it’s got forests, it’s got beaches and waves and stuff like that. Who could ask for anything more? I just don’t think the moon could top it, unfortunately. Greg, a.

Greg: [00:41:53.77] Lot of sandy, sandy, sandy e-bikes. Yeah.

Michael: [00:41:58.84] Um, no, I probably wouldn’t go either. No. Um, just because I’m. I don’t know whether I’m risk. I am risk adverse. I suppose I won’t even do parachuting, so there’s no way I’m going to go on a rocket. Okay.

Greg: [00:42:10.39] What about you? You’re gonna go to the moon.

Octavian: [00:42:11.56] You know what? If you’re tossed me, like, a year or two ago, I wouldn’t have been risk averse. I would have said, yeah, like, let’s do it. However, what I’ve noticed is people are wanting to do all these crazy sort of adventures or holidays, so to speak, that are so risky that it’s like, why would you do it? Like the submarine thing that when they went to Titanic. Good point. That is so ridiculous. Someone’s to offer the moon thing. I’d be like, um, I think I’m okay because what is something?

Martin: [00:42:41.29] The city will send you up in a carbon fiber spaceship with some titanium lugs, and you think, yeah, I really want to go in that. Yeah, they.

Octavian: [00:42:48.64] Controlling it with some robots from.

Martin: [00:42:50.41] Back in the 60s. It was tinfoil, wasn’t it, gents? They made them so, you know.

Octavian: [00:42:54.43] Yeah, I’ll probably not do that.

Greg: [00:42:57.07] No surprise. You like Omega as a brand. And they were the. Yeah. The watch brand of choice. No. The Apollo mission but iconic.

Octavian: [00:43:04.78] Keep your feet on the ground. If I’d do it myself personally, I.

Greg: [00:43:08.26] Would go in a heartbeat, but my wife wouldn’t let me. So it’s off the table.

Martin: [00:43:12.61] I’ll throw a question out there. Gentlemen, for us, if we were to select between James Bond and a prominent sporting figure, which would be your kind of more, who would you admire more? Oh, one’s a fantasy figure, but the other one.

Greg: [00:43:25.72] Is James Bond.

Martin: [00:43:26.41] James bond?

Greg: [00:43:26.89] Yeah, to me, it has to be. That is the epitome of English cool, isn’t it? Like it doesn’t really get much higher than that secret agent, you know, floating around the world.

Martin: [00:43:39.19] Saves it a few times.

Greg: [00:43:40.39] Yeah, yeah, I have to look up to that a bit more than a Premier League player, if I’m honest. Sorry. No. No offense to any Premier League players, but James Bond probably tops it for me.

Martin: [00:43:49.06] I’m thinking from the Amiga. Yeah.

Octavian: [00:43:50.47] Once again Amiga James Bond. Yeah. You know you know what I wouldn’t all those points are amazing. And if it wasn’t for this one person I would go James Bond. But I really appreciate uh going back to sport football. Yeah. Guardiola that’s one person that like completely revolutionized football. Completely changed it. That’s one person that I’d want to just have a sit down conversation with. Yeah, that would be my choice. James Bond close second, of course. Yeah, I’d have.

Michael: [00:44:23.95] To say James Bond. Really sad isn’t it. Very sort of just my very basic and shallow. But I like all the glamour. I love watching the films, the recent Daniel Craig selection, more than the history ones, you know, they’re very dated now, and I sort of squirm a bit watching Sean Connery. Well, I don’t watch Sean Connery because it’s just, you know, sorry. Sorry, Martin. No, no, it’s just, uh, just because of the, you know, sort of that whole sort of masculinity thing. And, uh, I think Daniel Craig managed to sort of shift it along, but we still kept all the all the glamour and the sort of the adventure, and I just, I loved. The cinematography. I’m a massive fan of good cinematography, so that’s probably why.

Octavian: [00:45:03.27] Okay, going into cinematography, I have to ask, is there one particular film that you all love? It doesn’t have to be all tanks. That’s a crazy difficult question, but what comes to mind? First I’m gonna throw it.

Martin: [00:45:14.67] Blade runner, the original Blade Runner. Yeah, um, just that kind of cityscape and what have you. Permanent darkness, you know, guys in the top, kind of going through a whole different kind of life experience compared to those on the bottom of the street where it appeared to be permanently raining. Returned to that every time, I guess. Yeah.

Michael: [00:45:29.94] It’s fantastic. I love a decent sci fi. You’re absolutely right, I would say. I also sort of, um, just I like the big epic films, like The Big Country, all these old sort of classics. Um, so I think the again, it’s the cinematography, the sheer sort of widescreen nature of that. Um, and yeah, I’m a bit of a fan for things like sort of, um, Gladiator, you know, just just stuff that, you know, really takes you into that sort of that world, you know? Yeah. Well, shot stuff. Big Ridley Scott fan. Yeah. Um, for.

Greg: [00:46:00.00] Me, probably favorite film, honestly, is avatar. Oh, the first one. That’s always been my favorite film ever since I watched it. It’s probably why I want to go to the moon. I feel I’m going to turn up and they’ll be avatar, but, um, I loved that. But I also do like I really like the Lord of the rings trilogy and and that whole storyline. I’ve always found that fascinating. The Hobbit and stuff like that.

Octavian: [00:46:25.86] Did you not like avatar two?

Greg: [00:46:27.60] I did, yeah, I thought I thought it was amazing, but it was never going to be avatar one because I loved it so much over the years. Yeah, it was an incredible film, but, you know, it.

Octavian: [00:46:37.17] Was so you knew it was out of this world when it came out. Yeah, like it was such a new concept. Even the 3D took him so.

Michael: [00:46:43.05] Long, didn’t it? I mean, it took years to actually make that film. Yeah. You know, really, I mean, ten years or something ridiculous, wasn’t it?

Greg: [00:46:49.56] And it’s been ten years since to make the second. Yeah I think. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Martin: [00:46:53.34] To your point, that’s patience though, Mike, isn’t it. You know, that kind of that belief that the experience and deliver at the end of it and I’m tying this into it, but it does if that gives you a kind of great indication of where two decades, two movies, equally kind of spellbinding and kind of vast in their imagination and execution. But there was a definite belief there and a and a movement that went with him. They said, okay, we see your vision. We know it’s going to deliver something pretty big. It’s not just going to be a whole bunch of digital, it’s going to be people at the same time infused with the kind of digital effects seamlessly and look at what it delivered. And it still brings in a ton of money. And I hate to be bringing it back, but that’s balance, isn’t it, between CGI and actors. And we still paid billions to go and see it, quite frankly, you know. And he delivered return on that.

Greg: [00:47:45.57] So the moral of the story is if you can make a film profitable, you can make a branch profitable.

Martin: [00:47:50.94] Gosh, there we go. Nicely done Greg. Terrible. How’s that for rounding it out? Oh, it can’t be that.