When you enter a luxury hotel, the seamless transition from parking and check-in to relaxing in your room or indulging in a good meal is an effortless flow that you have come to expect. It is this feeling of ease that OCBC hopes to recreate with its new Premier Banking Centre in Subang Jaya, Selangor. “We wanted to bring something that is very different. The inspiration came from the concept of hospitality. You come to a place that you feel very comfortable in, that welcomes you. You feel very relaxed, away from the hustle and bustle of the world outside,” says Lim Wyson, head of consumer financial services.
The OCBC experience begins before you even step in, tackling a headache that every Malaysian driver dreads — parking. “We said, ‘Okay, let’s make sure we have sufficient parking, not only on the ground floor but also in the basement to ease that stress.’ And that’s where our security staff play a fantastic role. If they know the client, they can help watch the car for a short while if the client wants to make a quick dash into the bank,” Lim explains.
A lot of thought went into the design of the area, from the hallway to the lift, which takes clients up to the premier centre. Featuring some of the design codes that reflect the theme upstairs, there is also an added touch of security, allowing customers to feel safe. “You’re not very sure whether there is anybody in the corner, on the left or right. So, we took all this into consideration and provided security cameras,” says Lim. Customers can observe a screen in the hallway that shows the blind spots, including the area behind them so they know they are not being followed.
The new premier banking centre is much larger than the previous space. At 2,000 sq ft, it gave OCBC’s in-house designers a lot of room to work with. It took a total of nine months to put together, including three months to conceptualise the design. “One of the things we focus on is to create a highly differentiated level of customer experience. Given the limited branches that we have — only 44 nationwide — it is even more important to deliver on that. We want to create a flagship experience that is tailored for the community. We go through a design process of trying to understand the community that we’re serving. In the case of Subang, it is a very young and maturing community,” Lim explains.
Upon entering the space, clients are greeted by the warm colours of brass and brown, with light wood floors. The reception area has a unique design feature that gives a dramatic effect: brass pillars that frame the space, at the centre of which is a copper wall with drilled holes that form elegant floral patterns. Adjustable Vibia Rhythm horizontal lights hang above the reception table, adding warmth.
Clients may enjoy a coffee at the bar or lounge in the living area, which has comfortable furniture dressed in vibrant accents of purple and grey, and a tasteful combination of Tom Dixon lights and Artemide floor lamps. The centre has two teller rooms for quick transactions and eight meeting rooms. Each meeting room feels private, with warm brown blinds and grooved wood walls. Wires, printers and other cumbersome tech equipment are kept neatly under the table, leaving only a large flexible computer screen and no clutter in sight. One of the meeting rooms is designed to function as a dining area.
“To help the customer avoid the hassle of eating out, we offer them the convenience of eating at our branch. Clients who have an appointment with us can choose what they want to eat. We’ll make arrangements so that when they come in, they can go straight to the basement car park, take the lift up and have lunch with us,” Lim says.
Adorning the walls of the premier centre is framed photography. “The photographs are the work of our employees. One of the things we want to emphasise is that this place also has the signatures and fingerprints of our employees. Some of them are very talented and this is the best way to showcase their work,” he says.
The Premier Banking Centre combines safety requirements — a secure section containing safe deposit boxes and private areas — with the perks of premium hospitality. With standout flagship centres, such as the Penang branch located in a spacious heritage building, OCBC hopes to gradually develop more centres with the community in mind. “We want to find a theme that speaks to the community that we serve, and we will infuse that into the personality of the branch,” Lim says.
This article first appeared in issue No. 94, Winter 2019 of Haven.