The Future Is Fusion: A Comprehensive Approach to Branch Transformation

The banking industry is changing: branches are becoming more retail-friendly, client expectations are increasing, and it takes more than ever before to stand out. What’s this mean for transformation? That in order to offer a truly modern branch experience, you have to fuse design, technology and staff training. We call this Transformation Fusion®.

Financial institutions are under more pressure than ever to transform—which requires juggling more moving parts than even the most talented circus ringleader can handle. 

In fact, one of the most complex aspects of a branch transformation process is trying to be a project manager and figure out what’s right for your financial institution, how it should all come together, and how to coordinate all the different companies needed to to complete your vision. This is almost impossible, especially with the typical transformation requiring 14 different companies from start to finish. 

This isn’t the ideal way, which is why we built a company that has everything under one roof. From strategy to design-build to integrated technology to people and process, DBSI + CFM have come together to offer the banking industry a comprehensive approach to branch transformation called Transformation Fusion®.


Our experts can help get your project off the ground with a customized, 1-on-1 project jumpstart session. These 45 minute sessions (performed virtually or in your office) will cover everything you need to get started on your transformation.

1.1  The 6 Essential Questions Driving Branch Transformation

Gone are the days of going to the bank on Friday or during a lunch break—banking can now be done from anywhere at any time thanks to browser, mobile and other application-based banking methods. Need proof? In-branch transaction volumes have declined more than 45% since 1992.

With so many forces driving the need to transform, it is easy to get overwhelmed. One way to make this process easier: consolidate all these factors into 6 simple questions that executives and the project team need to be able to answer before pressing ‘GO’ on their plan for transformation:

  1. How can I make the shift from transactional to advisory services in my branches?
  2. How can my branches consistently communicate to clients all the services and products available to them?
  3. How can I improve client experience and let branch visitors complete transactions the way they prefer?
  4. How can I offer more convenience and serve all of a client’s needs in every branch and every hour of the day?
  5. How can I remove the barriers to effective sales and service in my branches?
  6. How can I increase staff efficiency and overall branch operations?

The answer to solving all of these? Transformation Fusion.

2.  The Transformation Fusion Process

Transformation Fusion is a flexible suite of solutions connected together to deliver frictionless branch experiences. It starts with understanding your strategic intent, goals, and market drivers. Your unique differentiation is then applied to the right formula of technology, design, and engineered experiences that are fused together to remove risk and deliver unimaginable results.

This one-of-a-kind process has five steps:

2.1  Discover Define: The First Step of Transformation Fusion

The first step for developing a branch transformation strategy is understanding your financial institution as a whole. To do this, you must perform an in-depth inventory of where you stand today. 

More specifically, you must answer:

  • What makes you unique or different?
  • What is the client experience like in the branch now?
  • What is getting in the way of optimal service and sales?
  • What are you trying to achieve with a transformation?
  • Who does it right?

This isn’t just an exercise you can perform with one or two people within your financial institution.  To get a holistic picture, you need to ask a cross-functional team of folks at different levels–the executive team, retail associates, and even branch level staff.

Uncovering these simple things is a fundamental success factor to branch transformation. And it’s a must to differentiate yourself.  For us, we use an in-depth Discovery Survey, along with branch visits and executive interviews to collect all of the data we need to truly get to the core of a financial institution. From this information, we start planning for the transformation. 

2.2  Market Research: The Second Step of Transformation Fusion

Just as your FI is individual, so is your market. It’s important to learn market trends, statistics, facts, and figures. This gives you an edge and a connection to consumers your competition might not obtain nor even know about.

Speaking of your competition, you’ll want to know what they’re up to—both good and bad. It’s important to understand competitor failures and successes. You want to know what will work for you and what won’t. Depending on how much time and budget you have, you may even want to hire a 3rd party company to do the research for you (pro tip: Just hire a design-build firm that specializes in the financial industry who is already equipped with this knowledge). 

2.3  Project Planning: The Third Step of Transformation Fusion

As too many FIs know, trying to implement all the initiatives out there just doesn’t make sense. And with so many out there, deciding on the right ones can be tricky.  

However, if you’ve accurately completed the first two steps of Transformation Fusion, then it becomes a lot easier. Once you are armed with an understanding of who you are today, what challenges you are facing, and where you want to go, matching the right solutions and initiatives is as simple as it gets. It’s no longer wondering what to choose, but merely evaluating initiatives based on your new-found criteria. 

And that’s where the magic starts to happen… with a strong list of objectives and initiatives, you’ve got the foundation of a strategy, and ready to start to move to the fun part of actually designing the look and feel of your branches, deciding on your tech of choice, and training staff on how to deliver a new and improved client experience. 

2.4  Seamless Execution: The Fourth Step of Transformation Fusion

As mentioned before, this is the fun part. This is when all of the ideas and plans that you’ve put together in the previous steps come together and become a reality. From design to technology to signage, everything is now in the works. And if you hired the right company ( *cough cough* DBSI+CFM *cough cough*), then this is the easiest part of the process for you. All you have to do now is sit back and watch as your plans are transformed into the branch of your dreams.  

See the list below, ‘The Elements of Transformation Fusion: A Customizable, Flexible Suite of Solutions’ to see all the products and services that are included in this step of Transformation Fusion.

2.5  Repeatable Success: The Final Step of Transformation Fusion

Once the branch is built and the doors are ready to open, the last step is to set your new establishment up for success. This includes: 

  • Training the staff on how to operate in the new floorplan and with the new technologies (which we call Delivery Defined).
  • Building an operational playbook that outlines the transformation that was just done and how it can be repeated for another branch (we call this a Transformation Playbook).

3. The Elements of Transformation Fusion: A Customizable, Flexible Suite of Solutions

3.1  Design-Build

3.1.1  Branch and Headquarters Design

Our Design team is stacked with experts that have an understanding of how all of the elements in a branch or headquarters interact with one another, from the construction all the way through to choosing the right equipment and technologies (and even having a team service them well after your grand opening). They also have their fingers on the pulse of the banking industry and incorporate popular trends, as well as new, ground-breaking designs that will help you stand out.

Some of the design services we offer include:

  • Architectural Design 
    • New-build/ground-ups 
    • Remodels
    • Restacks/extensions
  • Interior Design 
    • Paints, flooring, etc.
    • Furniture and decor
    • Lighting and other accents

3.1.2  Construction

Not only do we design your branch or headquarters, but we also build it too. With thousands of branches built over the past 15 years, DBSI is an experienced general contractor when it comes to your retail branch construction needs.Whether it is a remodel of your current space or a complete ground-up effort (both white shell and gray shell), DBSI+CFM has you covered. We have the experience and project management disciplines to continually deliver projects on time and on budget. When working with DBSI, you can trust that you’ll be aware of every step along the way and be handed the keys to your new branch exactly as you had envisioned and ready to begin greeting your clients.

Some of the build services we offer include:

  • Interior
    • Painting and Drywall Services
    • Flooring Repairs and Replacement
    • Electrical Repairs and Upgrades
    • ADA Upgrades
    • Fire Life Safety Systems
    • Glazing
    • Furniture Repairs and Relocations
    • Window Treatment Repairs and Replacements
    • Decommission Buildings
  • Exterior 
    • Roof Repairs and Replacement
    • Parking Lots – Slurry, Sealcoat, and Striping
    • HVAC – Repairs, Replacements, and Upgrades
    • ADA Upgrades
    • Exterior Painting and Repairs
    • Landscaping Improvements
    • Concrete
    • Railings – Paint, Repair, Install or Remove
  • Equipment 
    • Drive-Up Windows
    • Modular Vaults & Vault Doors – Repairs and Replacements
    • Safe Deposit Boxes
    • Night Depositories
    • Pneumatic Tube Systems
    • Currency & Teller Lockers

3.1.3  Real Estate

DBSI Real Estate, LLC provides financial institutions with a full range of real estate services. Whether it’s a ground-up branch or a relocation, our brokers can help you find, sell or lease that perfect spot. From a macro level, we’ll help you find the right location down to the street corner level taking into consideration your customers’ or members’ convenience in and out of your space, the right part of town based on demographics and how many rooftops are nearby. At a micro level, we’ll help negotiate for the best space based on your square footage needs and get you the best tenant improvements possible

3.2  Next-Generation Technologies

3.2.1  Core Integration 

CFM is able to integrate your technologies and softwares into your core, making your branch run more efficiently than ever before. We do this in mutliple ways, with products and services like:

  • S4 ‒ a zero-footprint solution that builds a bridge between the core processor and your cash-handling hardware at the enterprise level. S4 universally drives and manages all major cash automation machines, giving you complete choice in hardware, full functionality and real-time integration with your teller application.
  • Network Optimization and Redundancy Module (NORM) ‒ Now more than ever, today’s financial institutions require reliable network connectivity. NORM keeps things up and available at all times. NORM is a patent-pending, headless appliance that connects the dots between yesterday’s workstation-driven serial devices to today’s thinner environment with network-driven and visible devices. NORM provides the most reliable, available and redundant way to integrate hardware into a core/teller application
  • Teller Cash Recyclers (TCRs) ‒ Cash dispensers and cash recyclers have empowered the branch experience by removing barriers for exceptional service and dramatically reducing operational costs. As a result, tellers can provide their full attention to service, costly and disruptive dual control buys and sells are eliminated, and transactions are more efficient, faster, and with fewer errors. When CFM certifies a cash recycler or dispenser, you can be assured that the machine will integrate directly into our core integration (S4) without skipping a beat.
  • iQ ‒ Because all hardware is integrated at the enterprise level, you can gain complete oversight between the core processing system and every cash recycler/dispenser within your branch network, saving you time and money. A superior analytics program, iQ offers visibility into everything from transaction speeds to end-of-day balancing enhancements. Best of all, you gain choice in the marketplace because CFM works with all makes and models of recyclers and dispensers.
  • Custom Development ‒ Regardless of your core type or the size and experience of your development team, CFM offers a custom development team that operates as an extension of your team to ensure maximum integrations

3.2.2  Universal Associate Tools  

  • Nomadix ‒ a core-integrated, tablet-based teller application that gives associates the power to complete almost any transaction from anywhere in the branch using a hand-held tablet device.The most powerful tool on the market for universal associates, every financial institution
  • RTA ‒ a patent-pending, game-changing tool that gives all staff members the ability to securely process transactions through a recycler or dispenser—from anywhere in the branch. Any withdrawal or deposit request is initiated at a staff member’s workstation on any device  (i.e. a tablet, PC, iPad, etc.). The transaction is then processed at the TCR once a simple and unique code is entered by the staff member (with eyes on cash).

3.2.3  Self, Assisted, and Full-Service Solutions

  • NEXT ‒ The smartest self-service machine ever built: fully core-integrated NEXT automates almost all transactions that can be completed at the teller line, and even allows for assisted-service and full-service accessibility from an associate using a nearby tablet. So should a client run into an issue, a teller or associate can step in to assist them or take over the transaction entirely to ensure its successful completion. Not only does this make the branch experience easier and more modern for your client, but it saves you a lot of money. By handling the mass amount of simple transactions, self-service technology keeps your associates available for more high-value interactions, like setting up a new account or fitting clients for a loan.
  • ATMs/ITMs ‒ From full function, to drive-up, to walk-up, DBSI + CFM  has you covered. We are solution agnostic, giving you numerous choices and believe that we are only as good as our last installation. Our long-term relationships with industry leaders allow us to offer top-quality equipment with long-term added value by providing continuous improvement and education for the products we implement.

3.3  Digital Signage 

3.3.1  Dynamic Displays ‒ As bankers, a goal is to help clients learn about the products and services your financial institution offers and how they align with their financial needs. One problem: the current tools used to engage clients (AKA static signage) aren’t all that exciting, so instead of creating an appetite for discovery, your messages are being ignored. Also known as visual communications, digital displays take the world of signage to a new level by adding engaging, dynamic screens to the branch experience. This is the only way to make a message stand out and get consumed in this screen-centric age. 

3.3.2  Interactive Kiosks ‒ Stop spending money on printed brochures and handouts that become outdated the minute a rate changes or messaging is updated.  Instead, get people off their phone screens and engaging with your promotional messaging with interactive kiosks and displays while they wait to get serviced. With these interactive displays, clients can explore all that your financial institution has to offer via digital brochures, website pages, and other interactive content. 

3.3.3  Marketing Tools

  • Financial HealthCheck (FHC) ‒ What if there was a way to better connect your products to clients’ financial needs and goals? There is, we call it Financial HealthCheck. Accessible anywhere online, clients can self-assess key financial indicators through the app in just 90 seconds. Once they’re done, they’ll instantly receive a report of how they’re doing financially and where they stand against their peers. Even better, your financial institution receives that same report. With every submission, you’ll learn more about your client’s unique hopes, dreams, and aspirations – everything you need to help guide advisory conversations (without even asking!)
  • Incyte The digital signage in your branch is meant to educate your clients on how your products can help them through life’s journey – but right now, every interaction is anonymous (and not immediately actionable). To bridge the gap between matching your clients with their unique interests, we created Service Sidekick to take their interactions with your digital signage from anonymous to personalized – driving action one notification at a time!

3.4  An Engineered Experience: The Delivery Defined Program

Developing a training program is a lot of work (it’s a full-time job on its own!), and new initiatives within the branch are too important to let slip. That’s why CFM offers a program called Delivery Defined to help you support your staff and maximize the success and benefits of your new staffing model.

Delivery Defined allows for your associates to get involved in the training process, compiles extensive research on your market and desired branch state, and packages up everything you need to flawlessly execute a universal staffing model–customized to your branch. This includes:
•  Hiring process, including roles and profiles
•  Training
•  Talk tracks
•  Sales playbooks
•  On-site reources to train your staff
•  Role playing and other exercises
•  Branded playbook to map out every transition or situation that could happen (trust us, we’ve seen it all!)

If you’re interested in learning more about bringing the Delivery Defined program to your branch(es) to simplify the introduction of universal associates, click here to get in touch with a member of the CFM team.

4. Hiring a Transformation Partner

So, besides the ability to fuse together all the parts of transformation, what should you look for in a branch transformation partner? 

4.1  Check Your Transformation Partner’s Resume

When you are in the process of hiring partner in your transformation journey, be sure the compan(ies) you bring on board check off all these boxes:

  • Industry Experts: You could go to the architect down the street to design a new branch, but would they be familiar with new technologies in the banking industry, ways to best integrate banking equipment into the design, or strategies to improve your client experience in the branch? The reality is…without living and breathing the financial institution market every day, it’s hard for the architect-next-door to truly understand and address the design roadblocks branches face today.
  • Employee Advocates: Find someone that will help bring your team into focus.  At DBSI, we go through an initial process of compiling everyone’s opinions, ideas, and thoughts into an executive summary.  Why do we do that? By summarizing everyone’s comments, it makes creating aligned goals and decisions that much easier.
  • Thorough Research: Find a partner that can help you define your Current State.  We find that clearly identifying what is and isn’t working in your current branches is a great way to simplify the choice of what makes you unique, what needs to stay, and what needs to go.
  • Actionable Strategy: Find a partner that can help you understand what your Desired State is.  Decisions are a whole lot easier when you clearly understand what the new elements are, and why they are being added.  When you see the final project, you should be able to think “Yes, this is exactly what I expected!”…something that feels right.
  • Clear Expectations: Find a company that can show what your Branch Transformation will look like — before any construction is done. Unless you’re an architect, making sense of blueprints is impossible. By getting 3D renderings of proposed designs, you can truly understand what these spaces will look and feel like and have confidence in your choice of design.
  • Vendor Management: Use as few vendors as possible. One of the most complex aspects of a Branch Transformation process is trying to be a project manager and get several different companies to work together to complete a project. The typical scenario calls for roughly 14 different companies from start to finish. This isn’t the ideal way, which is why we built a company that has everything under one roof. 

If you are looking for a partner that can help take the stress away from your Branch Transformation project with a simple, done-for-you methodology, we might be perfect for each other. To get started on your Branch Transformation project, contact us here.

4.2  The Ideation Center: Where Transformation Fusion Is Born

It is here that executives start their journey toward transformation. Known as the Banker’s Playground, the Ideation Center is an interactive showroom with the latest design-build, digital signage, and banking technologies. Not only can you experience all these things hands-on, but at the ‘IC’ you also learn, strategize, and create with award-winning designers, architects, and technology experts one-on-one.

Why schedule a trip?

  • Learn the top 10 retail banking barriers that affect sales and service in your branches.
  • Interact with over 20 retail components and technologies aimed at increasing customer satisfaction and reducing operational costs.
  • Discover the latest trends in retail banking and how they can work for both your branches and HQ.

One day at the Ideation Center can save you months of meetings and researching solutions. Schedule your visit today.