Setting the bar even higher.
National Australia Bank: Retail Store Design
Retail Store Design
Banking has become increasingly commoditised, and on both sides of the Tasman competition for customers is intense. Banks wishing to stay ahead of the curve are increasingly looking to reduce their formality and waiting times, and look for efficiency as they offer more and more technology-facilitated self-service.
National Australia Bank (NAB) is a financial services organisation with over 12 million customers and 50,000 people, operating more than 1,750 stores and Business Banking Centres globally. NAB's major financial services franchises in Australia are complemented by businesses in New Zealand, Asia, the United Kingdom and the United States. With over 4.5 million retail and small business customers in NAB's Personal Banking division alone, NAB was looking for a solution to develop a significant refreshed retail branch experience.
The bank was looking to design an experience that would move them beyond commodity, and for a way to break away from other banks through service experience. They wanted to increase current and new customer engagement (satisfaction), drive sales (velocity per person and per metre) and increase staff engagement (empowerment and compliance).
In partnership with Warren and Mahoney, DNA have risen to the challenge of making that happen, while keeping things personal and familiar in order to differentiate NAB with a ‘signature retail experience’.
The project team resisted the urge to offer pre-designed solutions or best practice, instead offering a process where the design team and the bank understood and redesigned the customer journey together, every step of the way. This proved a critical success factor as the project unfolded.
Initial discovery included spending time understanding the prior customer research the bank had done, number crunching to see how the bank’s retail outlets were really functioning, mining fresh customer and staff insight. from there the conceptual model evolved through undertaking extensive prototyping up to full scale walkthroughs set up in an adjacent warehouse ‘test-lab’ where user requirement’s and build cost constraints could be usability tested and balanced.
The project was a highly collaborative process for over a year and started with the tactical design of stores already in planning and construction. These 'in-flight' stores not only allowed the design team to rapidly engage with the client, their customers and the challenges of the project – it also allowed us to trial concepts and prototypes in real-life bank environments.
The new design programme was looking to do two things: foster a better dialogue between customers and staff without affecting the performance of the branch in delivering transactional services and create an environment that was more dynamic and inspiring. Importantly, the new design could not be a one-off concept or ‘showroom’ – the new design standard had to be able to be rolled into business-as-usual refits immediately.
Previous experience transforming BNZ’s retail banking persona had showed the team how important it was to have the right governance framework in place and make sure the design team were part of that decision-making process. A key insight was that while some people’s perception of self-service banking was that it was only a cost-cutting exercise, many relished its speed and efficiency. And everyone who used self-service options wanted personal support on hand if they got stuck. This thinking helped to inform the development of the serviced, self-service and assisted self-service areas within the new layout.
We approached the project with a retail lens, using the analogy of a restaurant as the platform to design off. People attract people, activating the entry with a concierge, transparent shop fronts, more automation, less queuing, help areas to get non-transactional activities out of the queue. In addition, more choice of meeting and conversation areas and the staff work area delivered as an open ‘kitchen’ with easy access to the retail areas are a hallmark of the solution. Music zones and scent are also key retail drivers.
The bank wanted to compete with other retailers for customer time. This is a relatively easy prospect when you are an Apple Store, not so easy for a retailer with no physical product and a general perception from the public of long queues and a dated architectural platform.
The customer experience concept was as much about redesigning processes and systems as it was about fixtures and fittings. The solution added value to products and services (with the adoption of Out of the Box banking) and delivered a reinvigorated conceptual model that was more human and more dynamic and inspiring for all.
Making the transformation happen on the ground at the bank’s hugely varied locations has involved an 11 part kit, and DNA’s ability to extend its collaboration to the contractors project managing each fit out. Being greeted upon entry, varying levels of discreetness, product merchandising and human interest via digital define the solution.
The culmination of the design process was the opening of the first store in the Docklands area of Melbourne in the first quarter of 2012. Although it's early days – the customer and staff response has been overwhelmingly positive – with early usability surveys averaging a 9 out of 10 across the board.
The design has been approved for roll-out and five more stores are in various stages of construction. At the same time key elements of the design are being retrofitted through the NAB network in a store refresh program for those locations that will not get a refit in the near future.
The results from the first new stores are showing a doubling of sales, better staff-customer sales engagement and self-service cash services have increasedfrom 8% to 31%.
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- Brand Experience
- Design Research
- Digital In Environments
- Digital Signage
- Experience Mapping
- Merchandising Design
- Signage Systems
- Signature Experiences
- Stakeholder Engagement