A recent piece in The New York Times discussed the future of branch banking and what firms like J.P. Morgan Chase are doing to provide their customers with the service they require in a cost-efficient and future-proof model. What I gleaned from the article is actually applicable to virtually any type of service business.
Customer behavior has changed; thus, service businesses are now required to provide greater variety of services in a smaller space, making it more cost-effective for the client. For example, in the banking industry, branch banks have shrunk from about 15,000 square feet 10 years ago, to roughly 2,500 square feet today. In years to come, these branches may even become mobile, completely eliminating the need for fixed real estate relating to branch banks.
Similarly, in the legal industry, law firms have shrunk their footprint from approximately 1,000 square feet per lawyer in the 1980’s to 500 or 600 square feet per lawyer today, which may still be too much space to make their services cost-effective. With that said, smaller space is not the only solution to the issue of providing better and more efficient customer service.
As the customer has changed – i.e., become much more mobile, more tech-savvy and usually younger – service providers in any industry must realize the necessity of customer satisfaction and strive to provide it in more innovative ways. One interesting concept is that of portable branch banks in the form of kiosks, which become a real asset during an emergency. What if law firms, accounting firms, and technology firms also considered the capability to provide on-site service to their customers? This would be a way to truly provide great service, and no doubt would secure loyal customers in the process.