You can’t build a cohesive strategy without a complete understanding of the materials you have to work with. Find out how surveys can help get you there.

It’s very difficult to do any effective long-term strategic planning for your branch network when you can’t guarantee that it will be implemented consistently.

This fact is true of the digital signage work we do with our clients, but it also applies to the physical spaces they occupy — the bank branches within their networks.

When you treat a branch network like another marketing channel that you can create programming for, that gives you an opportunity. The opportunity to cut through the clutter that is present in digital channels and speak directly to customers who have already bought into your brand.

Since current customers are already more likely to want to learn about additional services that can help them meet their goals, it makes a lot of sense to invest in resources that aid in starting those conversations while they are present in your branch.

You can create a strategy that serves and strengthens that relationship, however, you need a clear picture of the conditions within each branch, so that you can make informed decisions about where and how to effectively implement that strategy.

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If you don’t know it’s there, you can’t make the most of it.

Most banks simply don’t have the up-to-date information that is needed to consistently implement a detailed strategy across an entire branch network — least of all the ones that acquired several branches through mergers with smaller banks. In those cases, a bank’s management team might not have any documentation at all about what those branches are like on the inside.

The best case scenario in many situations is that someone in marketing is using an unwieldy spreadsheet to track the aspects of the network. While it’s important to keep record of their day-to-day work, it’s far from a complete overview of every aspect of each branch.

Without a complete visibility into the conditions of each branch in your network, how can you be confident that any long-term strategy will be implemented properly and used to its maximum potential?

However, you can’t make the most of a space you don’t understand; That’d be like hiring an interior designer for a house that hasn’t been built yet, and expecting them to do their job without as much as a floor plan.

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Surveys are like x-ray vision for your branches.

Bank branches still play a critical role in how customers interact with and form opinions about your brand. They should be treated with the same attention to detail that you’d give to any of your other marketing channels.

When there are a lot of undocumented conditions within the branch network, surveying creates an unprecedented level of visibility into the elements that make up each individual branch. The information that comes out of the survey process can then be organized according to the details that are most important to the bank’s strategic efforts.

For example, a survey might tell you that there are fixtures within a branch that you didn’t know about (and therefore couldn’t plan to make use of), furniture that needs to be repaired or rearranged, architecture that influences the way visitors move through your branch, technology that needs to be upgraded or replaced, or information about what the interior looks like from the outside.

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Once you can see the details, you can change them at will.

Every one of those elements, once identified, can then be tracked and changed in the course of implementing a greater strategy throughout a branch network. The information can also show the difference between what you think you have in your branch network, and what the actual conditions are.

As all of these factors are accounted for and you begin to factor them into your overall strategic planning, the utility of all of the information you’ve gathered will shift from simply understanding your environment, to beginning to influence it. Once you have a complete picture of everything that can be controlled and planned for, it’s much easier to design a cohesive experience across every aspect of your brand.

Without a deep understanding of all of the pieces you have in play and what condition they’re in, the best you can do is give very general instructions and hope that they’re implemented in a way that is useful to your brand and to your customers. The level of visibility you get from a survey creates a solid foundation for all of the activities happening across the entire network, putting the data needed to make deeper and more meaningful strategic decisions at your fingertips.