State Bank of India (SBI): Digitalizing the retail banking experience

India's first bank to develop a sub-brand targeting the digitally proficient population.


Even before India’s central bank opened the door to an influx of new competitors, State Bank of India began rethinking its future. Continuing to focus on its large and profitable customer base, those in the 45-plus-age bracket, without proactively addressing the growing youth population could threaten its leadership position. SBI needed to expand its base and embrace the millennial generation, creating a new and relevant banking environment for the young and growing share of India’s population.

For the country’s hyper-connected, highly informed, value-driven young customers expecting immediate services and real-time responses, queuing at bank branches for teller-controlled transactions seemed archaic. To entice and attract this demanding target segment, SBI created a digital banking program to remake the branch environment and remodel customer engagement.

"India is in the midst of a major demographic transition and we recognize that our customers increasingly expect digital services to help them manage their financial needs," said Arundhati Bhattacharya, chairman of State Bank of India.

Unable to wait through a two-year transformation, the bank set a timeline for building seven fully digital branches in just 14 weeks—and opening them on July 1, SBI’s Bank Day 2014. Clearly a partner would be needed to support such a firm and ambitious schedule for strategy creation, brand development, branch design and build, technology implementation and employee enablement. From a host of vendors, SBI chose Accenture as its single vendor, confident in Accenture’s ability to deliver on all phases of the program—from solidifying a vision and strategy, to developing digital capabilities, to building the physical branch, to aligning people in order to create a striking and enduring customer experience.


Accenture and SBI launched the project with a week-long effort to finalize the vision and shape a new sub-brand for this target market— SBI InTouch—that reflected the differentiated service experience that the branches would deliver to the nation’s digitally proficient youth. With the vision in place, Accenture immediately brought together a team from around the globe to open the seven new branches in less than four months—a team that included professionals with deep experience in banking as well as strategy, digital, technology and operations. With thirty years of experience running complex multidisciplinary projects, Accenture applied its proven, repeatable methods for on-time delivery as it led several teams working simultaneously across multiple centers in India and in the United Kingdom, the United States and France.

The work progressed in four parallel tracks to bring the vision to life on time:

  • Design the customer experience - The digital customer is a more demanding customer. Accenture worked with SBI to define these “digi-zens” and meet their demands with new processes and engaging, interactive technology. The design principle was simple: digitalize processes to attract and delight customers with instant gratification and a superior customer experience while reducing costs.

  • Build the physical branch - Demonstrating the broad utility of its delivery methods, Accenture worked with its partners internationally and locally to design and construct the seven new branches, which are strategically located in malls or high street areas in Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Kolkata.

  • Develop digital capabilities - Accenture deployed leading edge digital devices at the branches to create the on-demand touch experience for catering to the millennial generation, including interactive wall and table displays, tablets, multi-function kiosks, smart ATMs and instant account opening with debit card kiosk. These front-end devices, several available to customers for the first time in India, offer a range of advanced digital banking capabilities, including:

    • Instant account opening with an instant, personalized debit card

    • Remote expert financial advisors that can be reached instantly via high definition video-conferencing

    • A more integrated buying experience starting from a customer’s lifestyle needs rather than just financial needs

    Accenture also integrated the bank’s back-end technology to meet customer demands for real-time interactions and introduced the integrated power of analytics, customer relationship management, social media and mobility that would serve the bank as a whole in its growth towards the future.

  • Enable Employees - Accenture advised SBI on the operating model and supporting resources needed for the digital branches. The two organizations then worked together recruiting and selecting resources from internal staff followed by training and on boarding.

The vision for the new digital experience called for a set of behaviors not seen among traditional branch staff. With customers able to self-serve for activities that once required a teller, the employees needed to learn how to approach and interact with customers moving through the digitally rich banking environment. Accenture’s experience and leadership position in providing innovative talent and HR solutions helped SBI to build and shape a highly customer-centric workforce, eager to help customers help themselves.


For the first time in India, a bank has developed a sub-brand targeting the digitally proficient population. And the target segment is thrilled. From the first day of the opening, retail shoppers have visited the new branches in phenomenally high numbers. The buzz on social media captures the excitement and positive emotional response that visitors experience, with postings such as:

  • Really amazing innovative step ahead of contemporary banking technology (Twitter)

  • Awesome video…totally excited :) Have look…Watch this video to see the journey (Facebook).

  • This is my bank!! a proud moment for all SBIans...(YouTube)

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley joined in at the launch: “@sbiintouch a powerful initiative with the vision to serve young & aspirational India with ultra-modern Technology. Hope to see at many more places.” The Reserve Bank of India governor, Raghuram Rajan, was equally enthusiastic on a recent visit to the Mumbai branch: “This is a tremendous concept. It’s a nice way to get the power of information to the person who is asking for it.”

With Accenture’s help throughout the whirlwind process of strategy development, sub-brand creation, customer journey definition, branch design, technology integration, branch build and employee enablement, SBI has undergone a revolutionary change in the way it serves customers. The success of this seven-branch launch is propelling SBI forward with the digital bank program, and a roadmap is in place to continue building these branches.