Creating 'Perfect Branching Experience'

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One bank goal at the branch level is the "perfect branching experience."

That's what SunTrust Bank, Atlanta, wants its customers to feel when they visit one of its 1,700 branches in the Southeastern U.S.

"We operate in a multichannel world, and all play an important role in attracting and retaining clients, but the branch remains most important in attracting the household," explained Gene Kirby, corporate executive vice president with SunTrust, to BAI's Retail Delivery Show "It starts with how we greet people in the branch. We have a process we call lobby management and it starts as soon as they enter the branch. At the end of the day the piece that makes the difference is developing leadership and talent. It's all about execution and getting the right people in the right roles."

But the road to that point for SunTrust has had numerous potholes, said Kirby, including its first challenge, its management structure. There were also issues with inconsistent branch delivery and mergers.

"Today, the bank is much more centralized from a strategic standpoint, but it delegates local decisions to the local branch," he said.

The bank has responded by implementing a consistent sales and service model, creating a branch certification system, tracking sales daily, creating a branch client retention program, and instituting client service management. SunTrust has segmented clients, particularly commercial clients, according to revenues and created roles and responsibilities for all branch personnel. It has business banking sales officers in place who are strictly focused on selling new businesses on the bank and who are paid on commission

It has also implemented a series of companywide initiatives to strengthen across-lines of business sales and service execution. For instance, this year the mortgage cross-sell team will sell more than 100,000 products across the bank's line of business, said Kirby.

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