As one of China’s leading commercial banking groups, Industrial Bank partnered with SLD to redesign their branch experience. Focused on the principles of connection, sustainability, and innovation, the new branch strikes the perfect balance between technology and human interaction.
Since it was founded in 1988, Industrial Bank has grown to become a premier commercial banking group in China. As one of the first joint-stock commercial banks approved by the State Council and the People’s Bank of China, Industrial Bank was also the first Chinese bank to adopt the Equator Principles “for determining, assessing and managing environmental and social risk in projects.” Strongly adhering to a customer-oriented service concept, Industrial Bank now has a national network of over 2000 branches and is ranked as a Fortune Global 500 company.
In 2018, Industrial Bank partnered with Shikatani Lacroix Design (SLD) to create a new bank branch, sparking a journey of transformation and development. The framework of the new design includes digitization, footprint reduction, modularization and internationalization.
With so many banks focusing on the latest technological trends, the emotional connection with customers is often forgotten about. At the heart of the Industrial Bank branch redesign was a desire to strike the perfect balance between technology and human interaction. The goal of the project was to create an environment for customers that felt as if it was a “home away from home,” where they could comfortably use the digital equipment within the branch.
While many digitized banks fail at creating an emotional connection with customers, the Industrial Bank branch design strikes the perfect balance between technology and human interaction.
To begin the design process, SLD conducted competitor audits as well as audits of multiple Industrial Bank branches located across the country. Through the audits and interviews with various members of the Industrial Bank management team, three key words emerged that served as the foundation of the new branch experience: connected, green, and innovative.
Building upon these three words, the entire redesign was able to focus on creating a better customer experience–regardless of financial life stage–while also reinforcing the leadership role of Industrial Bank.
The redesigned branch serves as a hub that connects Industrial Bank with customers, staff, and the community. An exterior façade acts as a community landmark and drives strong brand recognition through an eye-catching digital screen and full height glazing for transparency.
Once inside, a warm, approachable, and flexible space that leverages a modular design provides a personalized and engaging experience for customers. A curved wall in the waiting area is used to symbolize embracement and showcase Industrial Bank’s commitment in accompanying its customers through different financial stages. Behind the curved wall, a Wealth Management Center leverages a darker color palette, marble stone and conscientiously selected furniture to create a truly VIP experience. The sophisticated and elegant atmosphere allows customers to comfortably relax and interact with digital equipment.
Given Industrial Bank’s commitment to sustainability, the new design incorporated many green initiatives, including environmentally friendly materials, a self-irrigated green wall to purify the air, a centralized power and timer system to limit energy consumption, and Smart Glass to allow the alteration of light transmission.
To further Industrial Bank’s reputation as an industry leader in innovative technology, the new design features a digital strategy that includes three categories: big data, transactional, and recreational.
For big data, this meant incorporating facial recognition systems and data analysis. The introduction of transactional equipment such as ATMs, VTMs and a CRS (cash recycling system) allows customers to process routine transactions by themselves, meaning that staff can focus on providing professional and curated financial advice. Innovative recreational machines, such as a smart table, digital community wall, and digital coffee table enable customers to interact digitally and select personalized content during their wait time. QR Codes and a Facial Recognition System allow customers to continue their journey even after leaving the branch.
The first prototype branch opened in Fuzhou in February 2020, reflecting elements of the new design, while the flagship prototype branch is scheduled to open in Shanghai in June 2020. The new design will form the foundation for the rejuvenation of more than 800 branches, which is scheduled to begin in late 2020.