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SPOTLIGHT: A new vision of banking coming to a Farmers National Bank branch

The prototype of a “Lab Branch offering cutting-edge technology” is in the making for Canfield and will feature a relaxed, customer-focused atmosphere.
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CANFIELD — Interactive Teller Machines (ITMs), state-of-the-art banking technology, an open concept space — and a coffee bar. 

That all adds up to a new vision of banking coming to a Farmers National Bank branch. 

Amber Wallace, executive vice president and chief retail and marketing officer of Farmers National Bank in Canfield, said her team has been dreaming of the future for several years. 

Partnering with Vocon and Olsavsky Jaminet Architects Inc. in Youngstown, the prototype of what Wallace calls a “Lab Branch offering cutting-edge technology” is in the making, with a relaxed, customer-focused atmosphere planned. 

Wallace said the inspiration came from a strategic planning session. 

“We said, ‘What if we have a branch where we test all technology in and out of this Lab Branch, so we can disperse it quicker throughout our whole network?’”  

The Lab Branch will be the first of its type in the area. “Banks are rethinking the retail banking experience and looking for ways to bring customers in and make them feel a part of the process. This branch puts the focus on the customer experience, which is at the heart of our mission,” Wallace said. 

Although the services and products Farmers National Bank provides to its clients will not change, the way clients interact with them will. 

“There will be no teller line and no teller pods,” she said. “Here, customers will find Interactive Teller Machines in both the Lab Branch lobby and a drive-through that connect customers with a highly trained teller via video that is actually located remotely in the Customer Support Center in Niles, Ohio.”

Although the branch will feature the latest high-tech banking channels, the branch will also have a manager and universal bankers to assist customers with all of their banking needs on-site and guide them through the technology. Brian Jackson, senior vice president and chief information officer of Farmers National Bank, works alongside Wallace. He said the new branch offers an efficient way to test this technology as it will all be in one place. "

"The branch is a way for us to see how customers react to and interact with new technology,” he said. “We’re going to have this branch staffed with high-tech people who will interact with customers, walk them through new technology and forge those relationships with digital innovators.”

Jackson added that those who may not consider themselves tech savvy are a valuable part of this process.

“We want to make sure we invest in the right products and services for our customers that will ultimately create the best banking experience," Jackson said. "That’s what makes this branch so important to the evolution and growth of Farmers. And for those who aren’t as comfortable with technology, our bankers will be on hand to assist them, answer questions and collect their feedback.” 

The feedback received from customers at the Lab Branch will guide the roll-out for new technology across the bank’s 41 branches. 

The Lab Branch is expected to open in early May at 4538 Boardman-Canfield Road, near the Route 11 ramps, located next to Starbucks and Chipotle in Canfield. 

This Content is made possible by our Sponsor; it is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff.