Lloyds, NatWest, and Halifax have all announced closures to small branches this year. With the face of high street banking remarkably changed since the pandemic, Newbury Building Society’s Dean Scott discusses why a ‘bricks and clicks’ approach and a presence in towns is so critical to the Society’s business.
What’s the one piece of positive feedback we hear more than any other when talking to our customers? Without a doubt, it’s how much they appreciate the human touch. In today’s vastly digital world, it’s incredibly important to our members that they can speak to a living, breathing human being who is ready and waiting to help – not a robot, chatbot (although we do have those now!), or a round-robin calling system that leaves you listening to hold music for hours.
As the Society’s Head of Sales and Marketing, it’s part of my role to champion our digital strategy and invest in improvements that allow our members to engage with us in new ways. In the last 12 months, we’ve launched online mortgage and savings appointments, bookable at the click of a button, introduced an instant chat service on our website, and undertook a pilot of a mobile app.
The pandemic reinforced the importance of digital banking infrastructure, but despite this, we are still extremely passionate about the difference people make to our business – both customer and colleague. As a multitude of other lenders close the doors of small local branches, the high street is exactly where we want to be.
I opened a Senior Saver account online. It was so simple to do with very clear and easy to follow instructions. I love it that they also make it easy for me to visit one of their local branches with a passbook as well if I want to, despite it being an online account. So many banks/building societies are leaving the high street, it's comforting to know that Newbury Building Society aren't following that trend and that their customers can still go in and chat face to face.
Being present for our customers, in the places they live and work, is part of our ethos as a trusted mutual organisation. Unlike banks, we have a commitment to reinvest our profits. We don’t have shareholders, so we get to put time and money back into the communities we operate in. This is something that has become even more critical to us recently and is why we launched our Cost of Living Support project last year.
To ensure we’re using our space to the best of our ability and that our branches remain fit for purpose, we’ve been working hard on a series of refurbishment projects over the last few years. We started with Abingdon in 2021, and we finished work on Newbury branch in December last year. Member feedback has been great, and we look forward to continuing to modernise our branch network this year, with plans to refurbish Winchester branch and subject to costings, Thatcham branch.
Whilst we will certainly continue to improve our online platforms and digital experience, our strategy will remain one of ‘bricks and clicks’, where good old fashioned service with a smile is at the root of our organisation.
Visit us and see for yourself...
We have ten branches throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, and Oxfordshire – find your closest one here. If you’d rather speak to us over the phone, via email, or set up a video call to discuss your savings or mortgage needs, you can do so here. We look forward to hearing from you soon!