Posted by Michel on 23.05.2012

Bank of New Zealand: improve customer experience through easier to understand shop layout and better staff interaction.

The Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) contacted us with a request to help them solve some signage issues that surfaced after BNZ implemented a radical new design in their branches (which they now call stores). BNZ described that after opening a new store to the public, customers felt confused when they entered, and that there were problems with queuing and getting people to the right counters.

We often get calls to “fix the signage” and, in the discussions with these clients, we find that these problems are not caused by the signage, but by other factors. This rang true for BNZ and we were engaged to carry out an audit of a number of their new ‘stores’. Part of the brief was to look at the delivery of BNZ’s digital advertising strategy in their stores, and for that component we collaborated with Symplicit, a digital user experience design consultancy.

The survey included a large number of staff and client interviews, and ID/Lab recommended a number of relatively simple changes in the store layout that would enhance the way that people use the space:

  • Make eye contact. Ensure that the terminal closest to the entrance is manned first, and rotate the service desk about 20 degrees. This way the staff member can always see who is coming in, make eye contact and acknowledge them.
  • Add more branding. The new store design was so clean and minimal that there was no BNZ branding visible in the store. This meant that some people walked in, looked around and left again, without understanding that this was the new BNZ store.
  • Change the queuing methods. It was unclear from the layout and labeling of the desks where business customers and private customers needed to go, and what services were offered at each desk.


Even more important were the changes to the way that the staff interact with the customers. We recommended to actively engage with the business customers on a one-to-one basis, to explain what they could expect, and how they could get faster service.

The implementation of these recommendations have shown a remarkable difference in customer experience.

This project was a great example of how ‘Shaping Behaviour in the Built Environment’ has its focus on people and how they interact with the cues they get from the environment. Signage can help, but more often it is about making other changes in the environment that help people to understand their surroundings.