A&L to use IT to improve customer service

Alliance & Leicester has announced plans to use cutting edge technology to pilot new concept branches across the UK.

The bank is initially opening eight of the new concept branches, which will aim to persuade customers to use direct banking services.

The branches will feature NCR cash machines and private phones offering the chance for customers to deposit cash and cheques and access banking specialists. The NCR Personas self service ATMs show cash deposits immediately on account balances and accept bundles of up to 60 notes, as well as cheques.

The bank's first concept branch was opened last year in Brighton and offers full banking and advice service to customers, a range of self-service options, a modern design, with 'enigmatic' lighting and low key music, formal and informal interview areas and a mural wall featuring local scenes.

Shaun Astley, Alliance & Leicester customer service and sales director, commented: "As part of our strategy of being a 'direct bank with a high street presence' our new concept branch highlights that we are at the forefront of branch banking giving customers the opportunity to benefit from 'tomorrow's banking today'."

If the concept branch pilot scheme is a success, Alliance & Leicester expects to roll out the new branch concept at all of its 254 branches in Britain. The bank aims to reduce its retail banking cost-to-income by 50 per cent by 2010, Computing reports.

A recent poll by Forrester Research found that, while 69 per cent of banking customers use a cash machine at least once a month and 52 per cent visit a branch, just 16 per cent choose to bank online.

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