Should You Play Music In Your Branch?

Music In Bank Branches

Honestly, we are not huge supporters of the opera and go there really only under special circumstances - like when we are forced to go there under gunpoint. Maybe it’s our ADD, or maybe we are too used to Game of Thrones, but in opera it can take a performer up to ten minutes to convey a simple concept such as, “She left me.” Most country songs can do this ten times in thirty seconds.  


Luckily for us, we won’t be playing opera in our branches as it turns out, that it is not conducive to banking. For that matter, neither is rock, jazz, classical or Taylor Swift (thankfully). After reviewing several studies and experimenting, it seems that while some customers like music in the branch, others find it distracting. Almost equally important, there is no data that we are aware of that shows that bank sales are helped (nor hurt) by music.


Of course, that is not the case for retail, as there are several notable studies that show music can have an impact on shopping duration, increase sales and raise the price point of purchased merchandise. In addition, playing classical music enhances the “luxury” feel and playing music on hold makes people stay on the line longer before hanging up.


While music may work in retail, banks are a different animal. It was easier to find a soprano that made it to the end of a romantic opera, than it was to get reliable data on music and banking. Very few customers go into a branch to “shop” and even if they did banks largely sell an intangible financial product, which does not necessarily translate into a retail buying experience. Customers often need to add/subtract numbers, make cognitive-intense decisions, or listen closely to understand new financial concepts and product attributes. While music is likely pleasing if you are waiting in line, it turns out that a majority of customers find it distracting – say, when they are trying to understand the Reg D limitations on money market accounts. This is why efforts by Lloyds in the UK and HSBC to play music in branches have met with mixed results.


While we are still keeping an open mind and will continue to look for a bank that has had a positive experience with music in their branches, our preliminary conclusion is that unlike our research on branch smells, music probably does not enhance the branch experience. Then again, what do we know, we think there is too much singing in opera.