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Studio B – Embracing Innovation with An Open Dialogue


A hot debate among the retail and business sectors is how to embrace the changing attitudes and behaviours of consumers. With certain companies reluctant to undertake major changes to the layout of their stores in fear of these developments being seen as fads or trends that will disappear or shift over time. So, the question is, how do they respond for the here and now, to ensure they are meeting consumer expectations?

The answer can be found at Studio B – a new concept from Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks in and designed by Market Gravity and Four by Two. A prime example of how to create an open dialogue with consumers, all whilst enhancing your products and quality of service.

Keen to see the layout of this modern banking facility turned innovation hub, Innesco paid Studio B a visit this week at their 150 Kensington High Street base. Upon first impressions, you’d be forgiven for walking right past the building as it certainly does not look like your traditional bank façade, rather it evokes feelings of a luxury boutique, with bold letters stating ‘Bright ideas to make you smile’, and admittedly, it did just that.

Walking in unannounced, we were greeted by Centre Manager Liz Barlow, who graciously offered to show us around and explain the layout and thinking behind this innovation hub.

“We openly encourage not just our customers, but members of the public to come in, relax, and share ideas should they see fit” explains Liz, “Banking is part of what we offer here, but above all, its about continually improving our quality and level of service, and moving away from the stereotype that banks can’t be interesting places to spend your time and share your views.”

Liz directs us to The Innovation Lab, a traditionally hidden area within most banks where senior staff devise how to improve products and services. At Studio B, they have positioned it to the front of the room as you walk in and operate an open-door policy to the public. If you have an idea you’d like to share then this is the place to do it, and if it has potential, there’s a high chance it can be developed into real solutions for everyday life.

To the centre of the room is The Showcase, arranged with a series of smart phones and devices. Here, you can perform most of your banking duties such as signing up for an account without having to queue for a teller – ideal for those who are in a hurry. For the more private of banking needs, there are of course the Branch meeting rooms. Research  has found that most customers prefer the tables which neighbour these with their built-in smart technology, where you can, for example, discuss or apply for a mortgage with more discretion.

Perhaps the most unusual offering within Studio B is The Café, which offers free refreshments and Wi-Fi to visitors set among relaxed seating and tables. A breath of fresh air to the traditional banking setup, Studio B has witnessed a dramatic rise in dwell time with its addition, and have found that often visitors will use this as a working space, with many preferring to discuss their banking needs among this setting. Clydesdale and Yorkshire Banks are working to keep the momentum going within Studio B and regularly host free events within this space, posted on Eventbrite to reach the masses, not just customers. Liz mentions they have had enquiries through from everyone from artists looking to exhibit, to comedians and sommeliers.  A bank embracing comedy? Now that’s something we would like to see.

Studio B is a model worth consideration calling the consumer into focus. The best example of this? Members of the Innesco team are in the process of switching banks who they’ve been loyal to for decades long. Consider us sold.

You can visit the Studio B website here.

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