EON Bank takes on a fruit-ful business outlook

WOULD one associate a bank with fruits? While the camel is allied with AmBank and the tiger with Maybank, EON Bank, which is familiar to all Malaysians as “the car bank”, could soon be recognised as a fruit-ful bank.

As part of its Project Quantum Leap (PQL) initiated in the last quarter of 2007, the bank has adopted a fruit concept to symbolise the refreshing change the bank will undergo to transform the banking experience for its customers.

“Fruits are synonymous with health. We chose fruits to symbolise financial health,” head of networking distribution and management Looi Kok Soon tells StarBizWeek.

It’s hard to miss the vibrant orange colour with the fruity concept of the bank these days, which personifies warmth and encourages greater interaction with banking management and staff.

In the new set-up, almost 70% of the bank is allocated to customer space, with seven zones including a discovery zone, consultation space with an accessible branch manager, and a navigator to assists customers.

“The older branches are dull and crammed and have fewer ATMs,” he says, adding the transformation also includes a remobilisation of staff, where some of the bank’s staff were relocated to the headquarters.

He says that 300 backroom staffers have also been converted to front liners and there is on average 16 staff per branch today.

“It’s a leaner fit at the branches these days,” he says, adding that when the bank completed the branch improvement process last October, bank processes were improved leading to a reduction in the need for backroom jobs.

The bank has allocated RM180mil to be spent over the three years of the PQL to refurbish its branches, which includes installation of new ATMs at the bank, enhanced risk management practices, and a complete redesign of the bank’s layout.

Looi says so far 30 out of its 139 branches have undergone the transformation, which has brought immediate results, with almost 50% of transactions now taking place over automated tellers.

Prior to the transformation a lot of its branches did not have an electronic banking lobby. He says customers are also more willing to “share their wallet” with the bank after the transformation.

He stresses that the transformation exercise is not purely a renovation exercise, but also involves transformation of its staff from the way they talk to branch improvement processes. Typically, the bank spends about RM700,000 to RM1mil on each branch.

Director of design and space analyst of interior design firm S.U.A, Ed Mun, was engaged by the bank under the EON Bank New Interior Design Concept programme.

“Seven companies were called in to put in our designs,” he says, adding that it took three weeks to come up with the overall idea and concept.

“What captured our attention was that EON Bank wanted to become the consumer bank of choice,” he says, adding that the challenge was to pick out the colour and design.

He says the idea of a fruit theme was selected to capture people’s mindset and anchor their attention about EON Bank as a refreshed and modern-day bank.

“We did research and made a comparison with local and international banks. We found that orange was not a colour that was widely used in banks,” he says.

“We wanted a concept that matched EON Bank’s vision of banking made simple, convenient and adding value,” he says.