National Australia Bank (NAB)’s flagship ‘smart store’, which opened its doors at the end of September, has abandoned the traditional bank teller layout in favour of fewer staff and more self service terminals.

The branch is 25% smaller in size and employs fewer members of staff than the previous flagship.

For customer requests which cannot be managed automatically, customers can use an app to book an appointment with a teller via an in-branch tablet.

NAB is confident the move will help optimise customer service by ensuring that although the number of employees will be smaller, staff will be able to spend more time helping visitors who require assistance.

The increasing popularity of internet banking, coupled with the widespread use of mobile devices among the Australian population has seen branch customer transactions fall 9% over the last year, according to the bank.

Peter Holmes, head of network design at NAB, said the bank plans to open two more trial stores in Melbourne and Sydney over the next few months. "This a key part of our integrated customer experience to reposition our branches and make them more relevant to customers", he revealed.

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Currently, NAB operates 700 branches in Australia; a smaller network than those operated by Australia’s other top three banks, Commonwealth Bank, Westpac Banking Corporation, and Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.

The bank has unveiled plans to continue expanding, and aims to introduce more smart stores across the country in 2014.

Competitor bank Westpac is also known to have allocated AUS$240m to an extensive technological upgrade of its network, which includes 1,273 outlets.


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