Across Generations, Consumers Prefer the Branch for Financial Advice

Consumers are happy with digital interactions for quick transactions, but for more substantive conversations they’d rather deal with humans, according to new research commissioned by Samsung.

However, the study added a caveat: a poor branch experience can keep consumers away, or even make them consider switching to another institution. Here are the top consumer complaints from the survey, accompanied by one of our solutions that helps address that particular complaint:

  • unprepared banking associates (68 percent) – Better Lobby Main Service Queue and Kiosk
  • long wait times (55 percent) – Better Lobby Mobile Appointment Booking Tool
  • impersonal service (49 percent) – Better Lobby Main Service Queue
  • unavailability of specialists (43 percent) – Better Lobby Video Meeting Queue Module

Key Takeaway: The Better Lobby Solution helps management address ALL of the complaints listed by members; while contributing to outstanding member service and building visitor trust.

Digital Interactions Are Fine, to a Point

Two surveys, done by New York-based financial services research and advisory firm Celent in February and released this month, asked over 2,300 U.S. adults when, how and why they want face-to-face interactions with their financial institutions. The surveys found that the majority (55%) wanted in-person interactions when they felt a conversation was necessary, and 77% wanted face-to-face engagement for “substantive conversations,” including for things such as getting advice, setting goals or applying for a new loan or account. Notably, even 93% of millennials in the surveys said they preferred some things to be handled in person.

Plus, according to the survey data, a poor branch experience was the most likely reason respondents said they would switch financial institutions.

Creating a positive branch experience has been Better Branches mission since our inception in 2003. Our Better Lobby solution supports both visitor Kiosk Self Check-in and Concierge Check-in by your branch staff thus ensuring a great first impression.

Key Takeaway: Members and visitors from all demographics have high expectations when visiting your CU’s branches to open new accounts. A robust visitor management platform such as Better Lobby can greatly assist in leaving a positive impression and building brand loyalty.

3 Myths about Video Banking

The “3 Myths” article contends that video banking helps credit unions make their products and services more convenient, while simultaneously helping them develop a high tech image. The author discusses 3 common myths around video banking that are holding adoption rates back:

Myth #1. No space for video banking

Myth #2: Video banking is over complicated

Myth #3: Video banking is disproportionately expensive

Key Takeaway: We believe that video banking has a bright future which is why we offer credit unions our Better Lobby Video Meeting Queue Module – which provides the member service management component missing from video conferencing systems.

Credit Unions Reinvent the Branch Experience

In a recent interesting Credit Union Times article, Peter Strozniak pointed out that “to create that experiential brand marketing, credit union executives are redesigning branches and cross-training staff to make the credit union experience personal, memorable, different and engaging – indelible positive member emotions that simply cannot be duplicated through digital channels.”

As more CUs transition to “branch of the future” designs, they will need to implement new software tools and techniques. Here are three ways that Better Lobby can help:
Fast Visitor Recorder – provides an efficient, accurate way to record short visits in a Universal MSR environment
Video Meetings Queue – makes it easy to connect your staff to your members via video technology
Mobile Booking Tool – plays a key role in every CU’s Future Branch strategy

Key Takeaway: New branches with open designs facilitate valuable face-to-face interactions between staff and members, especially when combined with a robust visitor management and appointments platform.

Global Video Banking Survey

Vidyo recently released the results from their Global Video Banking Survey and the data shows that consumers who have experienced video banking want more of it. Whether through online video banking (85% of consumers said they would use it again) or in-branch video banking (90% of consumers said they would use it again), consumers find tremendous value in interacting with their financial institutions via video.

Our experience working with our CU clients using video concurs with these findings, and also shows that connecting expert staff with branch visitors via video provides a great opportunity to improve member service, increase staff utilization and reduce branch cost.

Key Takeaway: Our Better Lobby Video Meeting Queue Module (VMQ) module is perfectly suited to help bring your CU into the video world – whether it is online or in-branch video banking.

Another Study Supports Popularity of Branches

Branches remain essential for handling financial matters for a significant number of consumers, according to a new report from Phoenix Synergistics entitled “The New Digital Bank Branch.” Not surprisingly, Baby Boomers are most likely to hold this viewpoint, however, an impressive number of Millennials – more than four in ten – find branches essential for their banking needs.

The branch remains the place where many members want to conduct their most important business so it is critical for CUs to continue to invest in their branches in order to meet this ongoing critical demand.

Key Takeaway: Our Better Lobby solution helps drive member satisfaction levels by making member branch check-in and service tracking fast and easy.

Automated marketing campaigns are clicking with members

A recent CU Journal article noted that many credit unions are deploying adaptive email marketing automation campaigns that are increasing new balances, spiking auto loan applications and converting anonymous website visitors to being “known.”

In a similar vein, one of our clients recently came to us and asked if we could help them obtain accurate and timely responses from their members when their branch visit was fresh in their minds. In response, we developed the Survey Trigger. This module, which works in conjunction with third party survey software, can be configured to send a text or email survey to a member when their memory of visit is fresh, e.g., 15 minutes to 1 hour after their branch visit.

Key Takeaway: At the conclusion of the branch visit, Better Lobby Survey Trigger Module reminds staff to invite members to be surveyed, records their responses and sends the “yes, I want to be surveyed” responses to your survey software provider together with the required member information. We believe that this “Voice of the Member” tool would be a good addition to our client’s marketing tool kits.

Long live the branch

In a recent interview, Diebold Nixdorf’s director of business development, design and new technology incubation Dave Kuchenski commented that once all FIs master the digital experience (and they will because those who don’t won’t be around), the differentiator becomes physical. Mr. Kuchenski added that means determining who comes into the branch and why and then providing an optimal experience for each of them when they do visit.

We completely agree – the fact is that managing and serving waiting visitors in a today’s credit union branches requires new tools and techniques like our Better Lobby Solution

Key Takeaway: Our Better Lobby platform makes visitor check-in and service tracking fast and easy, and was designed from the ground up to provide an optimal experience for your members.

Two Types of Video Banking

The widespread popularity of Skype and Facetime show that consumers love video. As far as credit unions are concerned, there are two video categories that they can use to better serve members: in-branch and remote video.

Currently, in-branch (which includes kiosks, ATMs or video-equipped rooms within branches and other CU facilities) is the most popular, but some analysts argue that in-branch video is only a temporary solution. They contend that the future lies in the remote delivery of video, AKA Bring Your Own Device (BYOD).

Key Takeaway: If your CU is considering adding either in-branch or remote video (or both), we suggest that you look at our Branch Video Meeting Queues module which provides the member service management component missing from video conferencing systems.

Americans Prefer Branches Over Mobile Apps for Opening New Accounts

A recent survey by consulting firm Novantas found that while mobile banking apps keep getting better, 60 percent of Americans would still rather open a new checking account in person at a branch than on a phone, tablet or desktop computer.

Not surprisingly, the Novantas research concluded that Americans’ preference for visits to branches over online banking stems from a strong desire to work with someone in person to resolve any issues that may arise.

Key Takeaway: Adding appointment booking capabilities like those we offer via our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool to your website is one of the best ways to meet consumer demand for opening a new checking account in person at one of your branches.

BCU is Launching Video-Only Branches for Its Members

In a recent CUBroadcast interview, BCU Chief Retail Officer Carey Price and Chief Information Officer Jeff Johnson discussed the credit union’s latest, envelope-pushing venture: launching video-only branches. They address why they are using video, how it will work, hurdles they’ve had to overcome, goals for their video-only branches, and advice for other credit unions looking to do something similar for their members.

Your credit union may not be ready to commit to video-only branches, but video is rapidly becoming a part of many credit unions operations because connecting expert staff with branch visitors via video provides a great opportunity to improve member service, increase staff utilization and reduce branch cost.

Key Takeaway: Better Lobby Video Meeting Queue Module (VMQ) extends your Better Lobby Branch Queue beyond the branch so that the queue can be seen and served by expert staff located elsewhere.

Community Choice Credit Union Invests in Branch of the Future

Community Choice Credit Union EVP/COO Dan Munro recently took time out of his busy schedule to do an interesting video interview with CUBroadcast: Press Here

Dan firmly believes the branch – or “Member Center” as Community Choice calls it – is not dead by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just evolving. We agree wholeheartedly! Take a few minutes to watch the video interview and hear about how Community Choice recently successfully converted an old gas station into a new “branch of the future” location.

Key Takeaway: Better Branches is proud to have Community Choice as a client and have them using our Better Lobby Main Service Queue and our Kiosk for Self Check-in and Concierge to power their branch network and better serve their members. Plus as Dan mentions in the interview, we are excited to help them roll out appointment booking in 2018.

Branches aren’t going away

In the U.S. today, there are about 86,000 retail bank branches and another 21,000 credit union branches. In the first half of 2017, according to the FDIC, about 200 branches closed and another 100 new branches opened every month. So the expected decline this year will be a little more than 1000, a slower rate than in recent years.

Survey after survey has shown that members from every demographic still want to visit the branch even as they use mobile and online banking, ATMs and other channels. Every credit union must acknowledge this fact and work hard to make the branch visitor experience the best it can be.

Key Takeaway:  Our Better Lobby platform makes visitor check-in and service tracking fast and easy, while providing visitors with their position “in line” and management with important information on visits, wait times, services and staff utilization.

Credit unions turn to video

Video interaction services can help enable credit unions to centralize their experts. This technology, which is becoming more affordable and commonplace, allows members to have a lifelike meeting experience with CU employees in smaller branches where it is not feasible to deploy mortgage, investment and other specialized staff.

The next step is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where credit union employees can interact via video with members not only in the branch, but wherever they happen to be – in the comfort of their home, in their workplace, or even on the go. At Better Branches Technology, we are prepared to assist credit unions with all of these scenarios by helping them utilize scheduled calls, where credit union staff invites a member to join a video meeting at a given date and time.

Key Takeaway: Video conferencing helps optimize staffing resources and adds a whole new level of convenience for members.

People still like the personal touch

Every year, the IMF conducts a global survey to assess people’s access to financial services. The most recent data from October 2017 show the number of branches per 100,000 adults holding remarkably stable in recent years.

When it come to important financial matters, advice and problem solving, most people still have a preference for face to face human interaction.

They also prefer to have those branch interactions to be both 1) convenient and 2) taken care of in a timely manner.

In order to satisfy those two requirements, credit unions need to deploy automated solutions that permit members to use nearly any Internet-connected device to schedule branch appointments through their website or mobile app.

Key Takeaway: Accepting appointments modernizes how members engage with branches, optimizing the allocation of staff and resources while giving your brand a tech-savvy image.

Gen Z Heaviest Branch Users

Gen Z consumers are surprisingly more likely than any other age group, including Baby Boomers, to visit a branch at least weekly, according to a new study from Accenture. While this may come as a surprise to many, what is not surprising is that the study also revealed that they are the group that is most likely to use mobile banking.

The Accenture report also notes that “Gen Z consumers are more engaged than other age groups with financial services across all channels, which will force traditional financial services providers to elevate the experience they offer across mobile, digital and in-bank platforms, as consumers continue to visit the branch regularly.”

Key Takeaway: If your credit union is targeting Gen Z members, then you may want to invest in our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool to give them the best of both worlds – a branch visit booked on their mobile device

Branches Are Here to Stay, and They’re Better than Ever

In a recent article in Credit Union Times, managing editor Natasha Chilingerian took an interesting look at how two CUs – IQ CU and Nutmeg State Financial CU – are developing their branch strategies. She found that the branch is alive and well, and they are getting major facelifts. She also concludes that the “branch channel is being integrated seamlessly with digital channels.

Key Takeaway: We agree with these observations and are working hard to do part to integrate these channels with our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool. This software builds a bridge from the online/mobile world directly into the branch in a way that improves member service quality and positively impacts branch sales

Video is a key part of the ultimate branch format

Peak Performance Consulting Group,  a respected consulting firm that specializes in banking strategy, recently outlined their concept of the “ideal branch.” One of the basic tenets was video:

You need private offices for the universal bankers to have private conversations…. One should have two-way video conferencing capability. When a customer needs to speak with a specialist or universal banker and everyone is busy, you can connect them to another location.”

To help accommodate this demand, we recently enhanced our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool to schedule Branch Video Meeting appointments with the same ease as face-to-face meetings. This innovative function seamlessly coordinates both staff (i.e. mortgage lenders, investment/financial planning experts, and consumer lending specialists), and up to two video equipped conference rooms that may be required for the meeting.

Key Takeaway: We see video meetings becoming a standard feature at many credit unions in the future, and our Video Meetings Queues is a perfect complement to this service.

Legacy channels probably can’t beat mobile — so they should join it

In a recent article in Business Insider, Senior Research Analyst Dan Van Dyke stated that credit unions “should prioritize adding features such as the ability to view wait times in mobile banking before calling support, the ability to use a mobile phone to gain access to ATMs, or mobile scheduling tools to set appointments with branch employees.” He concludes that “by bridging mobile banking with other channel interactions, banks may be able to raise convenience and user satisfaction in the branch, at ATMs, and in phone banks.”

Key Takeaway: Bridging mobile banking with other channel interactions is the wave of the future. When it comes to bridging the branch to the mobile and online channels, our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool is the ideal solution.

Innovation and Appointment Booking

In a recent blog, NCR stated that “innovation and development in the self-service channel will give branch staff more freedom to focus on activities that can deliver genuine value for the business….” Online appointment booking is perfectly suited to achieving this goal of focusing on activities that can deliver genuine value, e.g., opening more accounts, closing more loans, etc.

Key Takeaway: Online appointment booking helps with efficiency, and you know exactly why the member is coming in, so it helps with engagement. Without a doubt, appointments help improve sales and service performance in branches.

Video Banking Proves Popular for BluCurrent CU

BluCurrent Credit Union in Springfield, MO has implemented a popular video conferencing platform that routes calls from their branches to the CU’s member experience center. How popular is it? “Out of a five-point scale, our average rating is 4.5 for a positive experience and 93 percent of members would recommend it, which blew away our expectations,” said a BluCurrent spokesperson.

We see video conferencing as a very important up and coming channel for CUs which is why we developed our Branch Video Meeting Queues (VMQ) module. This easy-to-use software allows credit unions to book video conference appointments with both staff members and their accompanying video-equipped meeting rooms.

Key Takeaway: Better Lobby VMQ provides the member service management component missing from video conferencing systems, making it possible to seamlessly manage and serve branch visitors from any video-equipped location.

Merging the Member and the Branch Staff Experience

In a recent blog post entitled “Future of the Branch: Conclusion – It’s about employee experience too,” , an experienced FinTech blogger points out that “for branches to maintain longevity banks must focus on employee experience alongside customer experience, through integration of the technology available to both.” This is an interesting and important observation, but how can both your members and your employees use the same technology? The answer lies in scheduling software – the ability for members to book appointments to visit employees at the branch of their choice at the time of their choice.

Our Better Lobby Solution supports two Appointment Modules. The first module is used by staff to manage Branch Appointments within the Credit Union. The second module extends the Branch Appointment Calendar to the Web/Mobile channel so that members can digitally schedule appointments at their preferred branch without the involvement of staff.

Key Takeaway: Now is the time to empower your members to book appointments with your branch staff via our Mobile Appointment Scheduler – this affordable tool must be a key component of every CU’s Future Branch strategy.