Karo Group & ATB Financial Reinvent Retail Banking

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Great design has the power to introduce new ideas in a way that customers immediately embrace. That is precisely why ATB Financial turned to the power of design to help differentiate itself in Canada's highly competitive financial market. Alberta-based ATB Financial competes successfully with Canada's largest banks. At a time when most banks are closing branches and pushing customers online, ATB Financial sought to turn this trend to its advantage and move even closer to its customers. So, ATB Financial worked with Karo Group (http://www.karo.com/) to completely reinvent banking at its three newest Calgary branches, developing a branded experience to re-engage customers at every level of the retail banking experience an attract and retain both employees and customers.

Great design has the power to introduce new ideas in a way that customers immediately embrace. That is precisely why ATB Financial turned to the power of design to help differentiate itself in Canada's highly competitive financial market.

Alberta-based ATB Financial competes successfully with Canada's largest banks. At a time when most banks are closing branches and pushing customers online, ATB Financial sought to turn this trend to its advantage and move even closer to its customers. So, ATB Financial worked with Karo Group (http://www.karo.com/) to completely reinvent banking at its three newest Calgary branches, developing a branded experience to re-engage customers at every level of the retail banking experience an attract and retain both employees and customers.

Defining the advantage

The first step was to understand the in-branch customer experience. To gain insights into how the experience could be improved, researchers observed customers in action at branches and conducted interviews to identify their wants and needs and discover opportunities where ATB Financial could differentiate itself.

We then studied the distinct community each branch would serve. By understanding the area and developing an experience that fit the customers, we could reflect their needs and engage them in a way that cookie-cutter financial institutions never could.

Next, we studied the process and technology involved in everyday banking. How could it be faster? More efficient? More comfortable? More pleasant? To determine what the best practices were, we also looked at competitors around the world and leaders in other service industries.

Something completely fresh and different

With all this information in hand, Karo designed customized solutions for each branch that rebuilt the customer experience from the ground up, inside and out. Every touch point affects the customer, so every touch point needed to reflect the new experience, to foster a shift in thinking. This not only meant creating signage and a signature exterior element for all ATB Financial branches, it meant creating a whole new physical environment - from design and space planning to furniture and lighting.

By varying the way in which the space is used, each location forges a strong community connection. For example, the branch at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology incorporates a large student lounge. Another branch surrounded by upscale condos, boasts an equally upscale retail look and feel. In the branch on Calgary's eclectic, funky 17th Avenue, the work of local artists is prominently displayed. In each case, the "branch of the future" is built to fulfill the customers' needs, creating a branded experience that sets ATB Financial apart. Each branch also has a designated community space. The 17th Avenue branch, for example, has a room that any local business or organization can use free of charge.

So, what is the new experience like? A concierge and comfortable seating replaced the standard teller line-ups. A customer swipes their bankcard to announce their presence and then relaxes in the Dream Centre, enjoying free Wi-Fi and Starbucks coffee. Employees also enjoy some perks - the staff lounge is equipped with a Wii, large-screen LCD and computers.

These three new ATB Financial branches have changed not only the face of banking in Calgary but the face of retail banking, period.

For more information, please contact Karo Group
http://www.karo.com/
T 403.266.4094
President: Chris Bedford
Creative Director, Environments: Keith Moe

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Keith Moe

Chris Beddford
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