Alliance & Leicester makeover

Alliance & Leicester is piloting five concept branches with curving walls, soft, atmospheric lighting and low-key music in a bid to encourage people to do more banking “in-store”.

Alliance & Leicester is piloting five concept branches with curving walls, soft, atmospheric lighting and low-key music in a bid to encourage people to do more banking “in-store”.

Staff working at the concept branches, which are spread across the country, will be encouraged to act as concierges, circulating within customer areas to offer advice and assistance rather than being “anchored” behind glass counters. It will retain tellers for customers wanting a more traditional service.

The former building society is also rolling out high-speed self-service cash and paying-in machines to offer customers quicker access to their cash.

In addition, it has installed telephones to give customers direct access to specialist advisers and the banking hall also has semi-private and private interview spaces.

An Alliance & Leicester spokeswoman says the institution wants to provide a quicker and more informal banking environment for customers.

Banks have increasingly started concentrating on their bricks-and-mortar operations despite spending much of the past decade persuading customers to bank online. Barclays has already hired pioneering US banker Deanna Oppenheimer to transform services at its 2,000-strong branch network (MW September 8, 2005).

However, plans by Abbey to “revolutionise” the in-branch experience by introducing Costa coffee shops proved a costly failure and the stores have since been scrapped.

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