customer connection in the branch

E-commerce has a lot of great benefits, but its practicality is still its greatest one: It saves time. It makes lives easier. It offers more choices. 

Topping the list among these choices is when to shop online and when to conduct their business in person. Even when they decide on the latter, consumers rely on technology to improve their buying experience. Although bank and credit union customers conduct many routine transactions online, they still prefer personal interactions for guidance in some decisions—like opening new accounts, figuring out which mortgage is best for them, and planning for their retirement or children’s education savings. But they don’t want to queue up in a branch lobby or lounge in a waiting area for their turn for service, especially when wait times can be as high as 13 minutes

Technology also plays a vital role in the retail and service sectors. For example, look to Starbucks, which offers a mobile app so customers can order and pay in advance to avoid waiting in line for their coffee, and Apple, which give people the option to schedule store appointments for product consultations and technical support. 

How to support personalized service with appointment apps 

Today, a high-quality service experience is defined by how quickly account holders can sit down with a financial professional and how prepared that professional is to supply the requested information, complete the account-opening or loan application process, and suggest other products and services to help people achieve their financial goals.   

It’s no surprise, then, that consumers are embracing appointment apps offered as part of their financial institutions’ mobile and online services. According to the Kronos 2019 Appointment Study, on three of the busiest days for branches—Thursday, Friday, and Saturday—people with scheduled appointments outnumbered walk-ins. 

Those and other findings in the appointment study show how offering account holders the opportunity to schedule appointments with financial professionals improves the branch experience, optimizes staff scheduling, and enhances profitability through increased sales and more efficient operations. The study is based on data from nearly 3,800 appointments scheduled at 160 financial branches across North America that use Kronos FMSI Appointment Concierge software. 

Among key findings in the study that can help branch managers hone their service, sales, and staffing strategies: 

  • Walk-in traffic was typically light in the morning and picked up later in the day. In contrast, people tended to book appointments earlier in the day, peaking before noon. At branches with similar patterns, managers may want to schedule associates with sales experience and in-depth product knowledge during the most popular appointment times. 
  • Consumers used appointment apps to book conversations about complex, revenue-producing products like mortgages, consumer and auto loans. By capturing the reason for the visit, branch staff can be better prepared to serve account holders quickly and efficiently and to suggest other financial products and services that might benefit them.
  • People who make appointments keep them. A strong majority of scheduled appointments, 84 percent, were assigned and completed, and 12 percent of those who had scheduled an appointment used the app features to change the day and/or time or cancel in advance. By following up with reminders about when and where appointments are and what documents consumers should bring with them, financial institutions can reduce the number of no-shows and help ensure positive, productive interactions. 

New staffing and scheduling strategies for the branch

The Kronos study provides benchmarking data for managers to evaluate service volume at their institutions’ branches and to deploy frontline resources to optimize service, sales, and productivity at each location. Among the management tips offered in the report:

Make the omnichannel experience as seamless as possible, so that account holders can transition seamlessly from call center, website, or mobile app to make an appointment with a financial professional when they would prefer to continue the conversation in person.

Optimize scheduling of top performing frontline staff to drive service and revenue so that qualified employees are available when and where account holders are scheduling appointments and equipped with the most useful information.
Improve service and sales with new source data. In addition to accumulating data on account holders’ preferred service schedules—which is useful information on its own—the appointment app records what services or inquiries they are seeking at each branch, which can help managers assign staff based on their areas of expertise. For example, an accountholder looking for a notary will definitely be meeting with a representative who can handle this.

According to industry research cited in the Kronos study, your competitors are committed to increase spending on customer experience initiatives, including omnichannel technologies, with the aim of attracting new account holders and building relationships with existing ones.

Knowing what they want before they walk through your doors can be a powerful staffing management tool to keep pace with their ever-increasing service expectations. 

Offering account holders the option to book appointments in the branch is no longer a luxury that can possibly position your organization as an innovator. Instead, offering appointment setting solutions that recognizes and responds to customer preferences to save time and have easy access to valuable information and personal assistance, is becoming an account holder expectation.

For more information, download the Kronos 2019 Appointment Study white paper here.

Published: Wednesday, September 25, 2019