Strategy, Branch Design, Roll out
KB Banki was the largest retail bank in Iceland – serving both rural and urban customers across the country. It was formed by the merger of two highly traditional banking networks in 2003, but Icelanders are anything but traditional in the way that they bank. In fact, more than 90% of the population use online banking facilities, so branch visits were rare.
The branches were outdated and needed total reinvention. With online banking so dominant, the major design challenge was to make the in-branch experience more relevant, enticing and inspiring. Market and customer research was the first step to creating a retail bank design that would maximise the value of increasingly infrequent customer visits, encourage customers to spend more time in-branch, deliver more value per customer visit and motivate and empower staff. The design solution also had to reflect both the KB Banki brand spirit and the unique culture of Iceland.
Our solution centred around a key in-branch differentiator – the Kaupthing financial experts. As customers stepped into the branch they were greeted in person or able to interact with a touch screen to check in. This elevated the branch visit experience to that of an advice centre. Whether in-branch for a quick enquiry at the cash bar or a more in-depth discussion, customers could relax, knowing they had checked in and their advisor would meet them shortly.
Digital media, online banking facilities and great coffee were on offer in a comfortable waiting hub, resulting in a stress-free experience before customers were collected for their meeting.
Financial expert meeting areas were a real focus. Coloured glass panels, subtle lighting and natural materials were used to reflect the natural environment – for which many Icelanders have a great connection and place high importance. Meeting spaces also doubled as places for experts to catch up on admin once the branch was shut. Electric height adjustable desks meant staff could sit or stand to suit themselves.
Plus the overall branch layout and ambiance was designed to feel more ‘boutique hotel’ than bank branch, appealing to the unique appreciation for quality design and materials amongst Icelanders. For example, a carpet made of thousands of polished stones in resin not only delivered a natural and unique floor finish, but added amazing sound softening qualities.
The concept was enthusiastically adopted by both staff and customers alike. Initially trialled at just eight locations, Kaupthing was so pleased with the results that the concept was quickly rolled out to all its branches.
“Service has really improved. The customers and staff are very happy with it. In total we finished the whole network in two years. That is something that has never been done here in Iceland and I doubt it is common in the banking industry. M Worldwide has put some brand new, modern ideas into the Icelandic banking industry. The use of colours and material is unlike other branches. The way the marketing material is placed is brilliant. M Worldwide has successfully divided branches into relaxed and busier areas but still very bright and transparent.”
Hermann Bjornsson, Deputy Managing Director of Retail Banking, KB Banki, Iceland