During the research of creating a joint financial advisory centre for a Danish company active within banking, insurance and pension funding, Jensen Retail Group looked to other countries for inspiration. But each country has a culture of its own. Today the company Alm. Brand has a unique solution to the future of financial services responding the needs of their clients.
There is not a shop nearby for miles. The GPS reveals an address almost 10 kilometres outside of the city center situated in an area of companies and educational institutions. A parking spot is easy to find and an ATM discretely displayed behind an architectural water reflection working as a way-finder confirms that you are headed in the right direction.
In recognition of their primary customer Danish financial service company Alm. Brand moved outside town in a new financial advisory centre. Here there is plenty of space for the customers car and enough room for the meetings acquired. But as the company was about to do something completely different with their ways of working, they asked Jensen Retail Group, doing concept development, space planning and furniture design for companies for help on that matter.
Thomas Jensen, owner and Creative Director of Jensen Retail Group pleasantly notices how the personal assistant at the entrance of Alm. Brand elegantly welcome us and guide us to the appointed meeting room:
“Our goal was to create the perfect and most optimal way of meeting up. In Denmark people no longer goes to the bank for cash, but a meeting in your bank, with your financial advisor or your pension fund might happen once a year. Something that does not occur very often, as customers in these online days are not meeting up with their financial advisor very often. The customers also have ambivalent and different feelings about a meeting in the bank”, Thomas Jensen says and continues:
“The tough balance is to make the customer feel safe and relaxed, while at the same time not ignoring that these kinds of meetings are not just a chat and a coffee, but a serious meeting with an expert that knows about the financial situation of the customer”.
Jensen Retail Group therefore looked at some of the grips done within the area of hospitality, as for instance hotels who are skilled at combining business with pleasure: the usage of curtains and carpets to create privacy, better sound reduction and to compliment a room with tactility and warmth without it being invasive or too “homy”.
Besides the hospitality as a theme Jensen Retail Group in collaboration with Alm. Brand established another three pillars to be the focal point in developing the concept of the new financial advisory centre: the brand, the interior and the perfect team.
Transparency for everyone
One could think that the understanding of the hospitality and the interior is two sides of the same coin, but the differentiation lies within specific demands when space planning.
“We have been very aware of the customer journey and the result separates Alm. Brand from other Danish financial service companies. In this new solution Alm. Brand always has a welcoming area consisting of a personal assistant and the entrance is thought to be calm and approachable which for instance is why the counter is only as high as a kitchen counter”, Thomas Jensen explains.
Different pieces of furniture, some low, some high, some open, some almost closed are placed in the reception to meet the different needs of each customer. No other staff than the personal assistant in the reception are permanently in the entrance area.
“It is very much on purpose that we have withdrawn the financial staff to be further back in the building. For one thing it would bring them better terms at actually doing their work. We also believe that the customer will perceive the meeting as more serious, if the advisor they meet are focused on their meeting instead of fixing coffee and managing several other customers”, Thomas Jensen says.
He explains how even though a personal assistant in the reception would appear to be an extra expense, the personal assistant is also the coordinator that supports one of the four pillars: the perfect team. The personal assistant knows everything that´s going on in the house so neither the customer nor the employee, whether they are bankers, insurance people or from the pension fund, needn´t worry.
Branding without products
The colour of Alm. Brand is a certain kind of blue and practically every employee within the company are familiar with the colour code. This colour naturally is part of the interior decoration, but the focal point of Jensen Retail Group was to ensure that the customer would meet the values of the company and to figure out other ways to embody Alm. Brand than by showcasing all of the company´s products:
“The core of Alm. Brand is a community-feeling. With small elements such as one big lamp above the meeting table gathering the participants or only having one large screen in each meeting room, so you don´t feel your advisor digging in your stuff, we are creating a feeling between advisor and customer that they are collaborating and are present on equal terms”.
Thomas Jensen smiles:
“It´s all part of the perfect and most optimal way to meet up. That the customer feels he or she is part of something, which is also why, yet handpicked for the purpose, none of the furniture chosen are too luxurious or prestigious. Attending a meeting at Alm. Brand should not just be easy physically but also mentally”.