The new 40
Following the 2008 financial crisis, a shift in trust from the financial security of banks meant many customers moved their funds into building societies. Almost a decade later, building societies are now focusing on their customer experience strategies to further cement relationships and build their reputations as trustworthy financial services providers. UK-based Skipton Building Society is hoping a branch transformation that reflects an ‘anything is possible later-in-life’ approach will strengthen customer trust and get more clients through its doors.
Skipton’s new ‘Ideas Centre’ concept designed by M Worldwide, a brand experience and retail design consultancy, was revealed in its Guildford branch in early February. The change of face aims to redefine the idea of retirement, and plays off a ‘60 is the new 40’ approach.
With a clientele that largely caters to the over 50s, the redesign offers a more welcoming in-branch experience. The ‘Ideas Kitchen’ is strategically placed in clear view for passers-by, and creates a homestyle appearance for the branch. As a kitchen is the heart of any home, the comfortable domestic setting too serves as the “heart of the concept,” and encourages relaxed conversation about financial arrangements and later-in-life aspirations over a cup of tea.
“We found our inspiration in service-based environments like airline lounges, because it’s the generous gestures in those settings that count towards a positive experience,” says David Martin, joint managing director at M Worldwide. “At Skipton, the tea-making ritual is one of those key gestures. People used to congregate around the fire, then they congregated around the TV, but they’ve always congregated around a cup of tea. That’s the sort of culture we wanted to bring into the branch.”
Skipton will continue its rollout of the new concept, maintaining its ‘Ideas Centre’ approach across different branch sizes.