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4 min read

First Impressions Matter: Retain Clients With These Tips

First Impressions Matter: Retain Clients With These Tips

We all know the age-old saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” It’s true in everyday life and it’s especially true in banking today where customer service and brand reputation play major roles in how clients choose a financial institution for their personal and business needs.

The reality is, as soon as clients enter a branch and discover things like a long wait line or an unattractive interior, they are less likely to return to a financial institution. It gets worse if an employee fails to provide exceptional service or they can’t get access to the products and services they need.

If any of this has you worried about how your branches are perceived, don’t hit the panic button just yet! There are many things you can do to improve operations and retain clients, from kickstarting advisory conversations and implementing a new floor plan to ensuring consistent branding and more.

As decades-long creators of branch design and transformation projects, we at DBSI would like to share what you can do to make a better impression across your network. You don’t have to change things all at once, and you don’t have to do them all in order to succeed—but these tips can serve as guidelines to get you started:


Be Intentional About Branch Design

Do your branches still have teller counters, closed-door offices, and client lobbies partitioned into corners away from branch activity? If so, it’s likely that your branches haven’t been updated in decades. And retro is great (for Halloween), but this sort of design likely doesn’t attract new clients, nor does it create the retail-friendly environment that clients expect today.

While it’s easy to talk about making improvements, we know that changing branch design and upgrading amenities always comes with a price tag. That’s why our experts at DBSI work with financial executives every day to determine their biggest goals and then create a workable plan for a branch transformation. We call this our 6d approach, and it’s how we’ve guided over 1,000 successful transformation projects over the past 25 years.

Here are some popular design elements to consider adding if you choose to remodel:

Teller Towers. These multifunctional spaces eliminate traditional teller lines and put your associates out amongst clients for service. Equipped with Teller Cash Recyclers (TCRs) and automation tools, Teller Towers are designed for both handling transactions and advising clients.

Service Spots. Designed as semi-private work areas, these flexible workspaces allow your associates to move around as needed to hold advisory-based0030_Interior conversations or give the client space to complete financial information.

Beverage Bar. Here, clients can get a cup of coffee or tea anytime during their visit or take one for the road after they’re finished speaking with an associate. Having a beverage bar also allows associates a few extra minutes and helps lower perceived wait time in the event a client needs to wait for service.

To learn more about implementing a new branch design, check out our 4-step guide.

63% of financial institutions reported they are looking to redesign their branch locations and layouts due to changing consumer behaviors, according to a 2021 survey by the research firm Crowe.


Be Informative and Keep Clients Engaged

The manner in which your financial institution shares news, highlights, and information about products and services has a significant impact on your business. Besides helping your brand stand out from the competition, it helps increase customer engagement, product awareness, and enhance the customer experience.

But what’s the best way to be more informative?

Most retail businesses today have added digital signage to their operations, which is an affordable way to share high-quality content across a network. With digital signage, you can display text, images, news, videos, social media posts and much more. It’s easy to change messages using this technology, and it’s easy to reduce marketing and advertising costs since printed materials can be reduced or eliminated.

Digital signage is unique in the sense that it can encourage advisory-level conversations through the type of content it displays. Many branches have been able to engage clients after showing success stories, testimonials, and reviews along with community news, event information, and fundraising initiatives.

DBSI’s Creative Experience Agency specializes in digital signage for financial institutions, and we provide everything from placement recommendations and hardware acquisition to content management software (CMS) selection and ongoing support. To learn more about our Creative Experience Agency and to download our 2023 Product Guide, follow this link.

In 2022, 90% of financial institutions used digital signage in at least one branch; that’s up 10% from 2021 (Digital Signage and Marketing Benchmarking Report, DBSI).



WHY YOU SHOULD Implement the Universal Associate Model

The Universal Associate Model is an advisory-based banking approach that combines the work of a teller, customer service representative, and personal banker into one highly functional role called a Universal Associate.

Besides greeting clients, processing banking transactions, and running loan applications, Universal Associates can:

  • Cross-sell products
  • Administrate branch marketing efforts
  • Support community-based program initiatives
  • Open and close personal and business accounts
  • And more!

The biggest benefits your clients will notice from this change in banking style is that they will receive more personal attention when entering a branch and either be served immediately or directed to an appropriate specialist. Altogether, implementing the Universal Associate Model is a good way to deliver your clients an engineered branch experience that demonstrates your commitment to improving their financial futures. 

Clients are more likely to turn to a competitor if they have a poor branch experience—and unprepared banking associates along with impersonal service are major reasons clients consider leaving their existing banks (Delivering Excellent Customer Service, Samsung).


Be Consistent with Your BrandingQueensborough-1

To earn the loyalty and trust of your clients, it’s important that your financial institution always maintains brand consistency, which is the process of keeping your brand assets unified across all mediums. This includes your website, branch elements, social media, display advertising, digital signage and more; anything intended to identify your bank or credit union.

Speaking of identity, you have to establish your brand identity before you can achieve brand consistency and that means choosing visual elements that represent your brand—including color choices, fonts, designs, and a logo. Overall, your brand identity should display your financial institution's mission, purpose, and values.

Whether you have an in-house team to build your brand image or you hire an agency, remember that trust is essential in the financial services industry and clients want a brand that communicates security and strength.


A consistent brand presentation can increase a business’s revenue by up to 33%, according to a study by Lucidpress.



Making a better first impression with your financial institution starts with taking a holistic look at operations and determining where you can improve. With our 6d approach to branch transformation, you’ll get to address concerns in the Discovery phase and then decide what approach to take in order to achieve the results you want. Get more information by filling out our online form or calling us at 1-855-ASK-DBSI.   


Together, let's bring the vision for your future to life!