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BNZ shakes up Auckland banking market

Bank of New Zealand shakes up Auckland banking market with multi million dollar extreme makeover

Don’t believe the hype about Bank of New Zealand’s drive to improve customer satisfaction – see it. Right now, Bank of New Zealand is engaged in its own multi-million dollar version of ‘Extreme Makeover’ in which the bank is upgrading key parts of its Auckland branch network.
By early 2005, at least seven key Bank of New Zealand branches in Auckland will have undergone an extreme makeover in the space of 12 months.

The investment in new branches and refurbishments in Auckland is the most intense investment by Bank of New Zealand in its Auckland branches in several years and reflects the strength of conventional branch banking in New Zealand.

“One of the lessons in banking in the last 10 years is that large numbers of customers still want to go into a branch and meet someone who can help them directly,” says Bank of New Zealand’s general manager of personal financial services, Blair Vernon. “Despite the convenience of the Internet and telephone banking, for many people they will never replace personal service.

“Ten years ago some industry insiders were predicting a slow decline in branch banking. That hasn’t happened and it won’t happen now. If anything, branch banking is in a resurgence,” says Mr Vernon.

Over the next few months, Bank of New Zealand will:

Open a new flagship branch at Botany Downs to service the fast-growing business and personal markets in east Auckland

Refurbish the Birkenhead branch on the lower North Shore

Refurbish the high-traffic Dominion Rd branch

Refurbish the high-traffic Manukau City Banking Centre

Move the Karangahape Rd branch from its current location to a premier new shopping block on the corner of Queen St and Karangahape Rd.

Since the beginning of the year:

The Kumeu branch has moved to a new and better building, reflecting steeply growing demand for banking services on Auckland’s north-west fringe

The Meadowlands branch, in east Auckland, has been refurbished to meet demand in that area

Other Bank of New Zealand Auckland branches are being considered for refurbishment.

Elsewhere, Bank of New Zealand has completed major refurbishments of branches in Taradale, Nelson, and at North End on Lambton Quay.

Refurbishments are underway or about to begin at Papanui in Christchurch, the Hamilton Banking Centre on Victoria St, and the Rotorua branch. The Hornby branch in Christchurch is moving to new and improved premises.

All the new branches feature Bank of New Zealand’s ‘Millennium look’, a state-of-the-art interior fit-out designed especially for Bank of New Zealand four years ago. The ‘Millennium look’ gives the interior of the branches a modern, sharp feeling.

Mr Vernon said the overhaul of branches in Auckland and elsewhere was part of Bank of New Zealand’s strategy to improve its branch service. That strategy has included:

installing a $25 million tellers’ computer system this year to improve the efficiency and range of services that tellers can provide in branches

appointing branch managers to more than 170 Bank of New Zealand branches, with a specific brief for those managers to drive the quality of service provided through branches. Branch manager appointments began last year in the South Island, and the latest round of appointments are being made in Auckland and the central North Island now

As a result , the latest ACNielsen survey on bank branch performance showed Bank of New Zealand as the highest-rated major bank for branch service (February-April quarter 2004, 75% of respondents rating Bank of New Zealand very good or excellent for branch service).

Bank of New Zealand’s regional manager, personal financial services, for Auckland, Richard Jarrett, says the branch that will be opened at Botany Downs (500 Ti Rakau Drive) on 1 September will be a flagship branch, with the potential to accommodate increased demand as the local economy grows.

The bank consciously chose not to be based in the Botany Downs mall as many of its competitors are.

“There’s no point having a branch if it’s not easily accessible, and if you are in Botany Downs shopping mall, customers have to park and walk quite a distance to get to you. Our branch will have parking right outside.”

The branch will have an ATM, a mobile mortgage manager, and business banking services, although the base for business banking will remain at the Eastern Banking Centre in East Tamaki.

“We want a one bank approach. You can get everything you need at Botany Downs,” says Mr Jarrett. “We don’t want to send people somewhere else.”

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