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Where does the Universal Banker model fit with your branch staffing?


With customer channel preferences changing and branch transactions declining, most bank branches are staffed with more personnel – and often different types of staff — than ideally needed.


Institutions that have successfully implemented this model have realized increased sales, lower staffing costs, and greater staff retention.


In this 4 minute video, Ric Carey, who has had extensive experience in implementing and managing the Universal Bankers, discusses best practices and practical implementation tips.




Q: “Is there an ideal branch format?”


A: The “ideal branch” of the future will be fully automated with robots or holograms serving as branch staff. The interior walls will reconfigure at the push of a button to create meeting rooms of different sizes and shapes with chairs popping out of the floor to fit any configuration. Branch signage along with interior finishes (wall colors, floor coverings, artwork, etc.) will be all digital. They will change remotely if the bank merges with a competitor. Customers will self-identify through retina scans or facial recognition. The facilities will be fully paperless, green and LEED-certified.


OK; maybe that’s a 25th Century blueprint.


In many of my recent engagements I’ve been asked that very question: “Is there an ideal branch format?” In whatever bank publication you pick up today, it seems someone has an opinion on the one ideal branch design. It’s smaller, heavily automated and uses digital signage. But …


I don’t believe in just one ideal branch design just as I don’t think there is one ideal car design.  The real answer is: “It depends … on lots of things.”


For starters, foot traffic and available real estate dictate branch size. For banks with very busy branches—say, 10,000 teller transactions—you can’t comfortably squeeze what you need into a 2,000-square ft. space. And in some markets, the best available site might measure 3,500 square ft. when you only need 2,500. It might be impossible to subdivide it.


I think “ideal” designs likely change depending on situations. Let me describe one superior design that works with small-to-midsize community banks and credit unions, especially in smaller markets and more rural areas. These firms are more likely to have less foot traffic for teller transactions, and therefore sales opportunities. However, they likely have a large enough customer base to drive a steady volume of customer account servicing issues.


There are seven key elements:

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Peak Performance Consulting Group recently received the Constant Contact All Star Award for the top 10% of newsletters during 2016 in customer engagement, relevant content and readership.  Criteria for selection include:


  • Content relevant to readers
  • Engagement of readers, as demonstrated by level of sign-ups and newsletter open rates
  • Industry leadership in use of social media and other tools


We deeply appreciate your continued support — we are looking forward to continuing to provide thought leadership and practical solutions for Banks and Credit Unions.



Marketing has become more complex with proliferation of channels and media.


Marilois Snowman, CEO of Mediastruction and David Kerstein, President of Peak Performance Consulting Group, discuss their presentation at The Financial Brand Forum 2017.


Their presentation covered strategies to increase marketing efficiency and sales by improving optimization across media and sales channels, and they presented a case study on how one community bank completely retooled its approach, generating a 40% lift in efficiency.



Debit interchange is one of the key fee income drivers, especially for community banks. But many institutions struggle to find strategies that fuel revenue growth, especially as merchants become more sophisticated in directing debit transactions to lower cost PIN vs. signature.


In today’s environment are debit rewards programs successful in stimulating demand? Can they help you jump-start performance? Is there sufficient payback after expenses are considered?


We believe there are more effective ways to improve debit revenue.


Rewards programs reached their peak in 2009 when they were offered by 58% of financial institutions. This dropped to a low of 32% in 2012, before stabilizing at 38% during the past two years. The decline in rewards programs gives us a test case to measure effectiveness. What happened when rewards programs were discontinued? Are the banks with the highest debit revenue generation offering rewards, or are they improving revenue through other means?


There are 3 drivers of debit revenue: penetration, activation, and usage


  • High performing institutions have significantly higher penetration of their customer base – more customers have cards, and are active. At the top quartile of performance, 92% of customers have a debit card. This compares to the average for all financial institutions of 77%, and only 62% for the bottom quartile.


  • We often hear that “many customers don’t want a debit card” or that “many of our customers don’t qualify for a card”.  But top performers have demonstrated that high penetration is possible. If customers don’t have a card, they can’t use it.


  • Best in class banks encourage their customers to use their cards more. At the top quartile, active cardholders use their card 31 times per month, vs. an average of 22 for all institutions, and a low of only 14 times per month for the bottom quartile of performers.


Data analytics is key to improving usage. Well performing institutions understand who is using their card, and where they are using it. They have programs to target activation (get non-users to make at least one transaction), and to encourage users to transact more (“you used it at the gas station, now try it at the supermarket”).


What about rewards programs? The decline in rewards participation is driven by the recognition that most customers receiving rewards are already predisposed to debit use. When programs were discontinued there was no significant diminishment in activity – certainly not enough to offset the savings from program management.


Instead of the highest users, spend your time and energy to identify non-users, or low users, and incent them to increase activity.


Remember PAU (Penetration, Activation, Usage) and establish metrics to measure, monitor – and improve – performance.


Financial Institutions are re-configuring branch networks to meet changing customer demand, closing bank branches and investing in new channels.


Jon Voorhees, Peak Performance Consulting Group consultant and former Head of Distribution Strategy at Bank of America discusses strategies to improve customer retention, sales performance, and cost savings.


Teller volumes have declined by about half in the last several years. With far fewer volumes going through largely fixed cost facilities, the cost per transaction done within the four walls of a branch will only climb.


Since the recent Great Recession, only about 5% have closed. When you take into account the number of new branches still being opened, the net decline is only about 4% in the last five years. So the question for banks is why aren’t you closing more?


Many banks have discussed the need to cut costs and close branches but few have been aggressive in doing so. The main reason more banks aren’t closing branches is fear pf customer attrition, but with the right data, analytics and implementation approach you can move forward with confidence.




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