As consumers globally move towards digital experiences, banks are trying to utilise the physical to aid customers with that. In addition, it could bring engagement back to the branch. Banco Galicia is following this strategy.

Are customers still using bank branches? With mobile platforms and online banking on the rise, institutions are looking for ways to bring customers inside stores. Patrick Brusnahan speaks to Banco Galicia’s branches network manager to look at its new concept

Patrick Brusnahan (PB): Why did Banco Galicia decide to reinvent their branches? What was the process?

Diego Baccini, branches network manager at Banco Galicia (DB): Technological advances are growing faster and they have a profound impact in our everyday life. That is why we feel we need to be groundbreaking in this revolution.

Since 2015, Banco Galicia has been implementing a plan that consists in expanding our network of branches and making them multi-format, providing a wider range of products and services, including new technological tools, and digitalising the processes that were otherwise done in paper. These improvements were in part made possible by new regulations or the Central Bank, who, among other things, allowed for a digital signature of documents and the use of electronic devices in branches without tellers.

These changes inspired us to create new formats for our branches, with a direct impact in the way we interact with our customers, providing them a much simpler and friendly experience.  We launched a new model of smart branch, teller free, and equipped with access to Wi-Fi and a robust amount of ATMs and service terminals, and skilled commercial advisors for more complex banking needs.

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PB: What were the goals of the new branches? Who are they targeted towards? What are the key features?

DB: The goal of our multi-format network of branches is being able to approach our customers with answers to their needs in different commercial zones. Focusing on providing more efficient and innovative services, the new branches incorporate multi-purpose rooms for our customers to use for informal meetings or other purposes, tablets and free Wi-Fi to access their online banking accounts and learn the features of the Galicia App, and service terminals and ATMs for their traditional banking transactions.

All of these services are laid out in a desk and teller-free environment, updating to a more flexible work space and providing a better customer experience.

PB: What is the banks’ position of physical distribution compared to digital? Where is the balance?

DB: Banco Galicia has a multi-channel view of the business. Our customers can use whatever channel they feel more comfortable using for their every day transactions. Some customers still prefer brick and mortar locations for more personalised  attention, some although using online channels for some transactions, still feel safer meeting at the branch for more complex transactions, and some have gone 100% digital and operate exclusively on-line.

Our goal is to be able to provide the best available services for each of these customers. We haven´t closed our branches; we are re-designing them in accordance to this multi-channel view, where our customers can choose what kind of transaction to do in each of this channels. In addition to these improvements in our branch services, we are providing our customers with better digital services that are available in more extensive operating hours, like foreign currency transactions.

PB: How will you be measuring the success of the branches?

The success of our new branches will come in the hand of our digital transformation and the development of all of our different transactional channels. The key is to understand what our customers need, and what the most efficient channel to provide it is.

For example, a customer can take a loan either through the app or in a branch, but only in a branch he could receive personal and complex advice for a long term investment. By supplying our customers with efficient on line tools for their every day banking transactions, we allow our employees to invest their time in more skilled tasks, delivering a much personalised experience to our customers. That would be how to achieve success in our new model branches.