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The New and Improved Retail Branch Experience

September 25, 2017

As technology in banks and credit unions evolve so does the consumer. And when it comes to visiting their financial institutions, the patterns of consumer behavior are changing according to a new study from Kronos. The recently conducted FMSI Appointment Study offers insights on which transactions bring people to branches and when they prefer to consult on their financial needs.

The study conducted by FMSI analysts validates the crucial role that branch service plays in omnichannel service delivery. Despite the changes in the industry with advances in remote delivery facilitating mobile loan applications and access to a full range of services online, many account holders still look for the face to face experience with financial professionals when conducting their business. Additionally, consumers appreciate the option to schedule an appointment at the financial institutions that include appointment-scheduling apps among their mobile offering, according to the research. The study found that branch visits by appointment outnumber walk-ins during several prime business hours.

The FMSI Appointment Study analyzes proprietary data on nearly 1,500 appointments scheduled at more than 160 branches located across North America in February 2017. Applying findings from this snapshot of consumer behavior may help your institutions improve branch service and performance and simultaneously evaluate the usefulness of offering account holders the option to schedule appointments for branch visits.

Identifying consumer preferences

One of the main objectives of our analysis was to identify patterns in time and day of the week preferences for scheduling appointments. When looking at ­­­branches in this study, visits by appointment outnumbered walk-in traffic during the morning and late afternoon hours. The most common hours to schedule appointments were at 10 a.m., 11 a.m., and 4 p.m. In comparison, walk-in traffic was typically low in the morning and most prevalent around the lunch hour, tapering off through the afternoon.

Fridays have traditionally been the busiest days for banking due to the fact that it is payday for most people, and this was a pattern that was reflected at branches included in the study. Visits by appointment outpaced walk-ins at these locations on Fridays, Saturdays, and Thursdays, suggesting that accountholders take advantage of the option to book appointments on days when they expect the branch to be a busy place.

The study also quantified appointments kept vs. no-shows. The vast majority of accountholders who took the time to schedule an appointment showed up and met with branch staff. During the study period, 84 percent of appointments were assigned and completed, 12 percent were canceled before the appointment, and only 4 percent were no-shows. Of those no-shows, 43 percent occurred during the 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. time slots, suggesting that it may be helpful to send reminders the day before appointments.

A key and final focus of the Appointment Study was to identify the types of services requested by consumers scheduling branch visits. According to the research, the majority of the appointments involved lending consultations, including consumer loans, mortgages, auto loans, and home equity lines of credit. This finding highlights the continuing role of the branch network in generating revenue by bringing in new loans.

Additional categories specified when scheduling appointments included new membership enrollment, account services questions, business services, credit card issues, and requests to have documents notarized. Overall, the ability to find out in advance what services were requesting facilitated scheduling to ensure that qualified service professionals  were available to complete those transactions and consultations.

Applying the findings

The implementation and use of appointment-scheduling apps in financial services shows that banking and credit union branches are just additional examples of how technology is changing the retail experience. Companies like Sprint and Apple also offer their customers the option to schedule appointments rather than stand in line at a store, and McDonald’s is experimenting with touchscreen kiosks where customers can place their order and take a digital location device so that their meals can be delivered to their tables. Starbucks and Subway offer apps that allow customers to pay for purchases and accrue special discounts and other promotions. Such innovations as these  are optimizing personalized service that acknowledge customers’ preferences, save them time and/or money, and reward loyalty.

The results of our study suggest several management strategies to improve frontline service and branch efficiency and productivity:

Make the omnichannel experience an easy one. For all the current enthusiasm for mobile and other remote channels, keep in mind that account holders tend to embrace new services without relinquishing their expectations that other options remain in place. Offering a mobile appointment app underscores that your institution offers a full range of channel options—and makes all of them conveniently accessible. Even customers who rely on mobile and online access for routine transactions may appreciate the option to schedule appointments to seek guidance from financial professionals on more complex matters.

Optimize your frontline resources to drive service and revenue. Inviting account holders to schedule branch appointment saves them time and simultaneously provides branch managers with valuable data for smarter scheduling. Financial professionals trained to provide specialized services can be scheduled to meet demand and be ready to serve with the appropriate materials lined up in advance to streamline the interaction. As a result, employees spend less time waiting for work, and the right staff are available to serve the right account holders at the right time, increasing branch efficiency and productivity and enhancing revenue production.

Take a data-driven approach to improving sales and service. Appointment-scheduling and lobby tracking software provide useful information about what services account holders 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.

Data for this study was gathered from financial institutions that use the Kronos FMSI Appointment Concierge and lobby tracker software. Additional analysis and management tips based on the FMSI Appointment Study are included in a new white paper available on our website, https://www.kronos.com/resources?industry=banking.

 

This article originally appeared in The Financial Brand

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