I just read a wonderful (and disturbing) piece by journo Virginia Fallon in the local paper who tells of losing her credit card at the beach. After seeing that the bank in her town was closed (in fact empty), she rang the hotline and was told (very nicely) to “just pop into your local branch and they’ll get a new one for you”. Trouble is, Virginia’s local branch is now over 90 minutes’ drive away!
Why are all the bank branches disappearing off the streets? Have they perhaps been effected by Covid?
No, they’re downsizing their direct in-person customer interface (now there’s some tech jargon for you) for economic reasons. Apparently it’s too expensive to run a large network of branches when just about everything can be done over the internet.
To me they’ve forgotten why they’re in business – to service their customers. Indeed, the reason for their very existence are their customers – you and I.
How does a bank get new customers – and retain existing ones – when we can’t see the bank nor talk face to face with the staff? Sure, one can look them up on the web, but how does one choose which bank? There are no service people from whom you can gauge whether you want to do business with them.
I think banks are forgetting that business comes through being good with the four “P’s” of marketing - people, process, product and place. I was always told that if you want your business to succeed, you absolutely must focus on these key variables for they provide the highest return for your efforts because they act as the cornerstone for everything your business does.
I wonder which one of the “P’s” is fast disappearing?
As a former banker in my early career (I am one of six members of our family that worked for the same bank at one time or another – on current trends, that’s a record I doubt will ever be broken), I’m really disappointed that an industry that gave me so much in terms of my career, is disappearing at a rapid pace.
And it’s not just personal disappointment. Many small towns that once had a bank, have now also lost their Police Station, local hardware store and in some cases, their schools. All of these institutions (as they were once called) are part of the community fabric of a small town.
Disappearing banks are just one indicator that we (as a society) may be losing the vehicles and fabric that enable us to actually (in person) connect with one another. That's a real worry.