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Lobby Wait-Times and Visitor Abandonment Rates on the Rise

April 12, 2016

By Kip Sweeney, Vice President, FMSI

FMSI recently published the 2016 Retail Branch Lobby Study of approximately 780,000 lobby interactions performed in the 3rd quarter of 2015.  In our analysis, we found that since our last Lobby Study in 2013 wait times increased from 5:08 to 7:06 and the number of visitors who left the branch unassisted (‘abandons’) increased by nearly 12%.

FMSI defines ‘abandonment rate’ as the proportion of unassisted visitors to the total number of visitors. When we deep-dived the abandonment rate numbers, the data revealed 55% of the organizations had rates in excess of 5% and 11% had rates over 10%—indicating that many organizations have costly service anomalies in their branches.

Just how much this is costing many institutions remains a mystery.  However, deriving a cost-basis for each visitor who walks out the door unassisted, in the following simplified example, may be a jaw-dropping revelation to those responsible for the bottom-line of a branch network.

Assume a 10-branch bank with an average abandonment rate of 10% across all branches.  Let’s say these branches are moderately busy with a total of 200 visitors (20 per branch) visiting to speak to a sales person each day.  If 10% of the 200 don’t get assisted, that’s 20 lost opportunities for the organization.  If instead of leaving unassisted, these 20 were assisted, and of those 20, 25% (five visitors) resulted in new sales, the organization would have five more sales per day, 25 more sales per week (assuming a five-day work week), 100+ sales per month and 1200+ sales per year!  If each sale on average is worth a modest $100 in additional revenue, eliminating abandonment rates could translate into an additional $120,000 in annual revenue.

Reducing or Eliminating Abandonment Rates through Technology

An appointment booking system not only benefits the visitor by allowing them to define a time where they will be served by a qualified staff member, it also enables the branch scheduling administrators to schedule the right employees, with the right skills at times appointments have been booked.  Additionally, appointment setting systems provide valuable insight into visitor’s top-of-mind interests, because a visitor who books an appointment will indicate what product or service they’re interested in discussing, which provides the free insight into what’s driving visitor behavior for marketing to leverage.

Some institutions have a misguided perception that their visitors never wait in their branches, but later discover otherwise when there’s real data for them to evaluate.  A lobby tracking system can provide this data by measuring the amount of time each visitor waits, and how long they were assisted by a representative.  Sophisticated systems like this also allow users to quickly identify visitors who left the branch unassisted and flag them for follow up.  With this information, institutions can establish realistic service goals and ‘inspect what they expect.’

With costly abandonment rates on the rise, it’s imperative that institutions leverage the right technology to maintain an edge in the competitive service landscape.

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