Turning brick and mortar into a digital experience

A 21st century branch office needs to be more than cubicles and queue numbers. LähiTapiola, a Finnish financial services group, wanted to experiment with building an entirely new concept to serve its insurance customers.

In August 2016, LähiTapiola opened a new branch office to serve its insurance customers in one of the biggest shopping centers in Finland. Their initial plan was to go with the classic financial services office concept, built to serve customers with an appointment.

However, the brand new space opened up the possibility to rethink the entire concept of what an insurance company branch office is. The team at LähiTapiola saw this potential – they felt that the standard solution was ill-suited to capture the value of the office’s new location, nor was it ideal for serving the large and varying customer flows of a shopping center flexibly.

Together with Reaktor and KOKO3, LähiTapiola started building a completely renewed concept for their new branch office. The results: a working concept in two months, a new office with digital solutions supporting customer service in a flexible way, and more personal sales to everyone working in the renewed space. 

A feelgood environment, topped with a digital dimension

While digitalization in the financial industry keeps accelerating, the branch office still remains an important showroom for the brand.

Thus, a pair of fundamental questions guided the LähiTapiola office’s concept work: what is the future role and function of brick and mortar in LähiTapiola’s business? What kind of digital solutions would best support the customer experience of a physical space going forward?  

Reaktor’s designers started searching for answers to these questions by crafting three different preliminary concept options. The LähiTapiola team decided to go with a combination of their two favourites: the options highlighting efficiency and top-notch customer experience.

Digital solutions to attract, engage, inform, and convince

The features that defined the foundations of the concept were quite straightforward: focus on being local; a low threshold to enter; and high modularity – enabling developing, optimising and restructuring the elements on the office separately.

On these foundations, six functional concept goals took form: the new space was to attract, engage, inform, convince, convert and inspire customers. These functional goals guide the content and use of the digital solutions in creative and unconventional ways, all controlled directly by the office’s dedicated team.

Say you’re a shopping mall visitor, about to walk past the new LähiTapiola office.

  • The first thing you see is a big, gleaming screen, right next to the office door. On the screen, messages like “Test your insurance coverage in five minutes” or “Home fire safety training here today at 5 pm” attract visitors into the office.
  • Once you step inside, a line of tablets and sofas await for you to take a seat and start scrolling through what LähiTapiola has to offer. Framed screens disguised as paintings are used as a product menu. On the walls, LähiTapiola’s products are displayed in living images.
  • A wall of displays in the relaxed public area inform local residents of matters relevant to them – it may show you a map of the response times of the local rescue department, or you may learn about the places to avoid leaving your bike due to high rates of theft.

Results: A whole new customer service model

Evidently, the branch office concept is not just about comfier sofas and moving paintings – it brought about an entirely new way of working. The space now supports the continuous, target-oriented development of a self-governed team.

Most importantly, this has enabled LähiTapiola to start continuously developing and improving customer experience. 

The results are beginning to show: every salesperson’s personal sales have increased. 

The concepting work provides a platform of service model development for the entire branch chain. LähiTapiola is currently in the process of extending the concept to other offices. 

"Reaktor helped us in perfecting our concept office in time, finding the right partners for the project, as well as combining the best of physical and digital customer service. The new office is very cosy and easy to step into, and we will reuse the concept in the future."

Heikki Pelkonen, LähiTapiola

Interested? Contact Marcus.