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Sneak Peak – 2019 Kronos Appointment Study

April 26, 2019

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Coming out next month is the new 2019 Kronos Appointment Study, and you’re getting a sneak peak here at The Branch Experience blog first.

The Kronos® 2019 Appointment Study, which highlights proprietary data on nearly 3,800 appointments scheduled at more than 340 financial institution branches located across North America during February 2019, provides a snapshot into consumer behavior that financial institutions can use to improve branch service and performance.

As the data illustrates in the above chart, walk-in traffic was typically light in the morning and picked up later in the day. People tended to make appointments, however, earlier in the day with booked meetings peaking before noon. This data indicates that account holders and prospects generally prefer to schedule appointments to discuss more complex products in the morning, and walk-in visitors with more general inquiries tend to start up midmorning and remain steady throughout the business day.

See more charts like the above and detailed analysis in a couple weeks when the study is published.

War for Deposits – A Practical Approach

April 22, 2019

With banks like Chase offering big bucks to lure in new account holders, the war for deposits is undeniably heating up. Many contributing factors lead to individuals selecting their financial institution, including convenient branch locations, overall experience, customer service, and more.

Whether institutions are improving the experience online or in the branch, the account holders are taking notice of the rising bar in service expectations — and it’s not just being set by other banks and credit unions.

Consumers are gaining conveniences through technology like never before. For example, Rocket Mortgage offers a pain free mobile option to secure a home loan, and retail stores, like Apple, are increasingly making time-saving appointment setting options available.

While you may not be able to easily implement a streamlined mobile mortgage option for your account holders or offer $600 to new account holders to switch to your institution, making appointment setting available to your account holders is a practical approach with a big payoff.

Account holders with more revenue generating complex interactions want to interact with branches efficiently, avoiding long wait times and ensuring they speak to the right employee the first time. Learn how investing in appointment setting software can give your institution a leg-up in the war for deposits.

Bank of America’s announcement that it will raise minimum wage to $20 per hour has big implications for other banks

April 11, 2019

Over the next two years Bank of America will have incremental pay increases to its minimum wage. On May 1, 2019, the minimum hourly wage will increase to $17, and will continue to rise until it reaches $20 in 2021.

Sheri Bronstein, the company’s chief human resources officer, said in a statement that the bank is raising its minimum wage “because we believe that to best serve our customers and clients, we need the best teams.”

Attracting and retaining the best employees is one of the biggest challenges HR departments face and offering competitive compensation is always a top-ranking concern. There’s no doubt other banks have taken notice of Bank of America’s recent plans. With its well over 4,000 branches, the pay increase will impact communities sprawling across the country, some with significantly less average hourly pay rates.

In the white paper titled, How High-Performing Organizations Compete for Talent, Kronos lays out tactics banks can do to improve their talent acquisition strategy. Spoiler alert, it’s more than just having the highest pay rates.

High-performing organizations’ recruiting strategies:

  • Emphasize the development of strong internal pipelines for talent just as much as external pipelines
  • Are more likely to offer comprehensive total reward packages, developmental opportunities, and flexible work arrangements
  • Have a robust integration of technology solutions that manage workforce complexity
  • Market the employer brand by increasing investments in the talent acquisition process
  • Customize processes for talent segments to effectively and frequently reach different types of candidates

Download this white paper today to learn how the right talent acquisition strategies can help your financial institution source thoughtfully and hire effectively.

Smartphone Addicts Shouldn’t Be Judged

March 25, 2019

Instead, make appointments with ‘connected consumers’ to help save them time and money

People have a complicated relationship with their smartphones. Those amazing mobile devices simultaneously offer a ready means to waste time and save it. They are both a distraction and a portal of productivity.

As Google noted in declaring a “mobile majority,” based on a global survey finding that more people connect to the Internet through their phones than any other device, we have at our fingertips an instant source of information, entertainment, and social bonding. In a recent Forbes article, Brian Solis contends that their smartphones dictate the behaviors, expectations, and aspirations of “connected consumers.”

“Pretty much anyone you want to do business with is obsessed with their mobile device,” Solis writes. “You can judge it or learn from it, but you can’t ignore it if you care about customer engagement.”

It’s time to stop fretting about mobile devices as an addiction and start embracing opportunities to connect members with the financial solutions your credit union can deliver. For starters, one key actionable takeaway from Google’s business research is that 75 percent of smartphone aficionados says their mobile devices help them to be more productive.

Enter the branch appointment app, which offers members a quick and easy way to book time with a financial professional at the office of their choice to consult on important financial decisions. At the same time, your credit union can use the information members provide in scheduling an appointment to be prepared in showcasing the products and services they want and need.

As much as members have embraced mobile and self-service options for managing their money, many still prefer to talk directly with knowledgeable professionals about their most significant commitments, like buying a car or house, paying for home improvements, planning for retirement, or signing on for business services.

Even as online options to open accounts or track down solutions to service issues become more common, your credit union can win over members who prefer to handle these tasks in person by inviting them to schedule an appointment to take care of business.

Offering an appointment app also underscores that you know how valuable members’ time is and that you are ready to help them make the most of it. This efficiency cuts in both directions: Research with Kronos clients shows that the vast majority of members who make branch appointments keep them, and the up-front notice helps branch employees be better prepared to provide the best possible service and identify additional sales opportunities.

These strategies can help your credit union build member relationships by delivering on their evolving expectations for their trusted financial advisor and improve operational efficiencies and bottom-line results:

Let members decide how and when to connect. For all the attention that mobile and other digital channels receive, what many members value most is getting to choose among a full range of delivery options. Offering a mobile appointment app can underscore that your credit union is a full-service financial institution and underscore your commitment to convenient access. Even consumers who rely heavily on digital channels will appreciate the opportunity to schedule appointments when they need guidance from financial professionals on more complex matters.

Optimize frontline resources to drive service and revenue. Inviting members to make appointments connects them with valuable financial expertise and simultaneously provides branch managers with valuable data for smarter scheduling. Branch employees trained to deliver specialized services can be scheduled to meet demand and ready to serve with the appropriate materials lined up in advance to streamline the interaction. You can also offer more specialized services on specific days and/or at certain locations. As a result, the organization can increase branch efficiency, improve productivity and decrease costs by optimizing staff resources.

Take a data-driven approach to branch sales and service. Appointment scheduling tools and lobby tracking software provide useful information about what services members want and when they are most likely to visit a branch for the kinds of interactions that result in increased sales. Detailed information about branch traffic patterns can guide decisions about scheduling, sales training, and marketing based on demand for services at each location.

Two additional statistics from business research support the benefits of an appointment app for members and your credit union. First, a survey from GetApp Lab indicates that 70 percent of customers prefer to book appointments online rather than by phone. Especially for members who are already comfortable booking everything from restaurant reservations to doctors’ appointments on their smartphone, an appointment app from their credit union would be a natural and much-appreciated service.

Second, Google reports that mobile searches for “best” increased more than 80 percent in two years. To enhance your credit union’s standing as members’ best choice for financial services, a full range of service and channel options, including convenient appointments at their favorite branch, can help forge a strong and lasting connection.

New banking executive survey

March 18, 2019

A new banking executive survey from CSI highlights the importance of the in-branch experience with the category scoring a 3.8 out of 5, good enough to land it in second place on the list of five key areas executives were asked to rate.

Transforming your lobby experience to help improve sales and service can be significantly augmented with the right technology. Lobby management solutions can increase employee efficiency by providing them with visitor wait-time and other pertinent information prior to interactions — and boost account-holder loyalty with a time-saving and convenient appointment solution.

More information about the CSI poll:

Each year, CSI polls executives at U.S. financial institutions across the country to uncover the strategies, trends and issues they believe will most affect the financial sector in the year ahead.

This year, 220 bankers answered our survey. We compiled the data to bring you industry-leading insight on:
  • Budget spending and planning for 2019
  • Top mobile, in-branch and digital strategies
  • Tactics for new customer acquisition
  • Cybersecurity and compliance trends
  • And much more!


Is branch employee burnout affecting your service?

February 22, 2019

Service in the branch is more important now than ever, while issues around the workforce experiencing high levels of fatigue and burnout is reaching critical mass. Optimizing the focus on results and the flexibility that allows employees to avoid burnout can help financial institutions streamline their response to this complex issue, and significantly reduce the related service impact.

Burnout impacts the entire organization. When an employee reaches the stage of burnout, it’s not only bad for them, it’s bad for the organization and for account holders. Burnout can be contagious, driving up levels of turnover.

Managers can be the difference. Burnout and its underlying conditions require manager attention. Managers should be on the lookout for signs of fatigue and actively work with employees to develop strategies to mitigate it.

Use technology to balance consistency and personalization. Technology, like branch scheduling solutions, can provide tools to help employees meet company needs while maintaining some control of their work schedule. But don’t assume that technology alone will solve a multifaceted issue like burnout.

The consistent management of schedules and workload plays a huge role in helping organizations combat burnout. It requires a combination of tools, strategies, and – most importantly – manager leadership to help individuals prioritize. But the impact can be dramatic.

Learn more in this white paper, titled, Moving Beyond Burnout: Strategies To Sustain Engagement and Retain Workers

Rethinking the waiting room management strategy in the branch

February 8, 2019

New recorded webinar featuring two banking executives discussing how they’ve re-imagined their waiting rooms with technology to improve performance.

Watch the webinar here.

Replay this webinar to hear how two innovative service leaders — Jenny Torres, vice president of service center operations at Suncoast Credit Union, and Jacque Valdez, associate vice president of branch operations at GECU — used workforce and customer management software to rethink their waiting room management strategy. You’ll hear best practices that will provide you with tips to maximize operational efficiencies and leverage your own workforce data so you can streamline service and offer a better experience. The webinar will help you:

  • Understand the latest technology trends in managing a better customer waiting area experience
  • Learn what kind of data should be collected to achieve better service outcomes
  • Get insight into specific methods for improving operational efficiencies to create a positive waiting area experience

How much of an advantage do the largest banks have?

February 1, 2019

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This new chart from American Banker helps to quantify how much of an advantage the largest banks have over their smaller competitors. The combination of their convenient branch networks and strong digital offerings makes large, national banks tough to beat.

Learn how new lobby management software can help improve your satisfaction index through a superior branch experience.


Are you on top of pay equity in the branch?

January 28, 2019

Recent news from Citi that their “median pay for women globally is 71% of the median for men,” highlights the real possibility that many financial institutions could have pay equity challenges.

All sorts of consequences come out of this serious issue, including but not limited to: damaging your brand, hurting recruiting efforts, and increasing turnover.

One avenue for banks and credit unions to pursue, to help stay ahead of problems caused by pay equity, is having the right reporting solution to identify trends in pay and take the right steps to course correct.

Properly harnessing data to identify any potential pay equity happenings by position and location within your organization on an ongoing basis can:

  • Mitigate compliance risks– staying ahead of everchanging government regulations
  • Protect your brand – avoiding costly negative press around pay inequity
  • Improve recruiting – ensuring equal pay sends the right message to your potential candidates
  • Decrease turnover – caused by possible inequitable pay practices

Learn more about about the Kronos analytics solution here.


It’s time to stop ignoring the branch waiting area

January 16, 2019

Since people have been gathering to make purchases, there have been waiting areas—queues or rows of chairs where people wait for their turn to be served, with varying levels of patience and yearning about how else they might be spending their time.

With the majority of focus being paid to other aspects of the account holder experience, the waiting area has widely been ignored. But let’s face it: no one wants to wait. No one walks into a branch looking forward to being shown to a row of chairs knowing they will soon occupy one of them.  Anything that banks can do to eliminate or at least reduce wait time has an outsized impact on account holder satisfaction. And that is something Suncoast bank cared very much about.

As part of their training, employees at the 66 branches of Suncoast Credit Union are instructed to wait for a single minute, to underscore how long 60 seconds can feel to account holders, says Jenny Torres, Vice President, Service Center Operations. That exercise drives home the importance of prompt service, and Suncoast staff and managers have new tools to help reduce wait time and assist account holders who prefer face-to-face interactions when discussing services ranging from opening a CD to applying for a mortgage to planning their retirement savings strategy.

Personal service remains at the core of Suncoast’s promise to account holders, so the bank is continuously looking for modern tools based on the specific needs and expectations in each market, including maintaining larger facilities in areas with high transaction volume to smaller “coffeehouse-style” locations. Recent extended hours for Saturday access to service personnel and Spanish-speaking staff to serve a growing Hispanic population are examples of their adaptation with account holder needs in mind.

Connecting account holders with the service they’re seeking begins as soon as they walk into a branch. Account holder sign in via Kronos Lobby Tracker system via a convenient kiosk, identify the purpose for their visit, and indicate whether they’d prefer to communicate in English or Spanish. Branch employees are notified immediately that account holders are ready to be served, and the tracking system helps ensure that staff arrive promptly to assist account holders in order of their arrival.

Keeping an eye out for account holders seeking assistance in the lobby is no longer a “line of sight” responsibility, Torres notes. The automated tracking system provides regular on-screen reminders about how long account holders have been waiting, prompting account holder service staff to finish up their current tasks and head to the lobby to greet them. Suncoast has experienced a notable improvement in reductions in wait time since implementing this system, she says.

The capability to enhance prompt service delivery is not limited to individual branches. GECU is implementing a “global queuing” system across its 20 locations in the El Paso, Texas, area to connect account holders on a timely basis with its centralized lending operation, says Jacque Valdez, Assistant Vice President of Branch Operations.

Previously, branch employees contacted lenders via a back-and-forth series of emails and phone calls when account holders walked into a branch for a loan consultation. The Lobby Tracker system has helped streamline that process so that account holders are guided to a workstation for a video conference with a lender. Incorporating technology into the queuing process has reduced wait time for account holders by up to five minutes on average, Valdez says.

Suncoast has experienced similar results since implementing lobby tracker software: An average three-minute assist-time reduction in loan interactions has saved 600 staff hours over the past year, and the credit union has logged 340 fewer branch abandons in the same period. Because the system captures information about account holders who do leave without receiving assistance, branch staff can follow up via phone call or email to ask how they can help.

This new approach to reducing wait time has helped Suncoast meet its goal of an 80 percent Net Promoter Score and contributed to a 20 percent increase in loan activity with a simultaneous 10 percent decrease in loan assist times, Torres reports.

Branch employees can use data collected by lobby tracking software to raise the bar on account holder service in diverse ways. To share two examples, GECU collected information on problems reported by account holders during a recent card conversion to speed the identification and resolution of those issues, and Suncoast CU was able to help a family by tracing locations and dates where account holder’s account had been accessed without permission. (Don’t want to discuss particulars…especially compared to the example of GECU…ours sounds like CRIME. Make sense?)

One additional benefit of introducing technology in the branch lobby is a wealth of useful data to guide performance evaluations and coaching. Supervisors can gauge whether individualized training on specific skill sets is needed based on the amount of time each employee spends with account holders for different types of transactions. In addition, managers can monitor sales and better target coaching by reviewing with staff the specific results on what single service account holders request when they enter the branch and what additional products and services they sign on for during their consultations.

In combination, the versatile applications of putting automation to work at the forefront of account holder service is chipping away at original purpose of the waiting area. And no one will complain about that.