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The First "Branch of the Future" is opening in Sofia

The First 'Branch of the Future' is opening in Sofia

The first Branch of the Future is opening in Sofia. It is located in Sofia Business Park and combines a large number of innovative solutions, aiming to transform a visit to the banking branch into a pleasant experience for the customers of the largest bank in the country - UniCredit Bulbank.



The "Branch of the Future" project ranks among the highest-priority projects for UniCredit in the region of Central and Eastern Europe and the pilot country for the first branch of that kind is Bulgaria.



"As it is written down in our mission statement, we take responsibility to create value for our customers and the Branch of the Future project is a tremendous step in this direction. The main goal of the project is to make customers feel special at every step in their journey in the branch - from attraction to departure. We have observed the trends in the changing behavior of our customers and want our branches to be in line with these changes", explained Mauro Maschio, Head of CEE Retail Division, who is in Bulgaria especially for the opening.


The Customer Journey

In creating the overall concept of the Branch of the Future, UniCredit cooperated with the UK company i-am associates, which are specialized in creating customer experience.



"We have paid great attention to each of the steps in the customers' interaction with us: attract, threshold, orientation, waiting, interaction with the bank and departure. For each step there is a corresponding zone in our branch, created in such a way so as to make the experience as pleasant as possible. To achieve that, we have combined the effect of more than 20 various projects and initiatives in all areas of the bank, impacting the customers on a rational as well on emotional level", explains Tsvetanka Mintcheva, Deputy Head of Retail Banking at UniCredit Bulbank who is in charge for the project in Bulgaria.



The innovations in the customer journey:


Attraction - the purpose of the zone is to provoke the customer, to invite him or her to go inside the branch which is different from any other banking branch, through its:

  • Large transparent facade which shows the interior of the branch and what is happening there, thus making it accessible and inviting;
  • Exterior communication screens instead of the usual advertising posters which cover the windows;
  • Communication using real customers' testimonials of the bank instead of product commercials;
  • Attractive night-time illumination and a distinctive logo, making the branch attractive by night as well;
  • A combination of trendy materials and timber, giving a sense of both innovation and coziness.

Threshold - the moment of truth for the customer, when he or she crosses the threshold of the bank. At this moment the customer has to feel special - greeted, orientated on what to do next, to be assisted.


  • Introduction of the Customer manager role;
  • A self-service area, which has a full range of functionalities - a BNA, an online banking kiosk, an interactive wall. The area is available to customers 24 hours a day;
  • A queue management system for those customers who continue their visit of the branch.

Orientation - facilitates the customer and creates a desire in him or her to continue the visit of the branch.

  • An environment which suggests quick and easy orientation;
  • Creating a fast service zone at "the heart of the branch":
    • Open cash desks which enable a more direct communication between bank officers and customers
    • A zone with high tables for meetings between customers and bank officers, as well as between customers themselves

Waiting - shows hospitality and presents the real-life banking concept of UniCredit

  • Using the queue management system in order to offer customers calm waiting and exact navigation without keeping them standing;
  • Customers can wait both on the special sofas and at the high tables in the quick zone;
  • Screens showing the turn of each customer and interesting information;
  • Opportunity for use of free Wi-Fi;
  • Hot drinks vending machine;
  • Pleasant environment with scents and background music.

Interaction - the primary aim is to bond with the customer and to build trust.

  • Dedicated areas and zones for meetings with customers;
  • Separate meeting rooms when confidentiality is needed;
  • Possibility for remote video consultations with experts from the head office;
  • Change of the branch manager position - from the bottom end to the center of the space in order to have an overall perception of the interactions and processes happening in the branch.

Departure - the customer is accompanied to the exit of the branch and is encouraged to return.

  • Possibility for immediate feedback through voting with tokens.