Appointments help CUs keep branches alive and thriving

A recent CU Journal article pointed out that members no longer visit branches to complete transactions that they can do online. Instead they stop by for help with more complex issues, such as applying for a loan, opening an account, seeking financial advice or dealing with a problem.

While we certainly agree with this assessment in general, increasingly “stop by” is not applicable.

That is because more and more CUs are adding appointment setting capabilities such as those delivered by our Mobile Appointment Booking tool to their website. Many members find it much more convenient to schedule an appointment than to simply stop by a branch, while CUs are finding that allowing their members to book appointments is a great way to increase long-term loyalty.

Key Takeaway: Appointments are a great way to grow brand awareness, increase your staff productivity, open more accounts, and develop your member base.

Branch Service Enters a New Era of Appointments

In a recent Credit Union Times article, iQ Credit Union’s SVP of Retail Delivery Ali Migaki said the most common reasons for branch visits today at their CU are to: 1) open a new membership; 2) discuss major financial moves that will impact the member’s life; and 3) pick up a new payment card after a fraud incident instead of waiting for one in the mail.

All 3 of these reasons are well suited to the use of appointments to facilitate a successful single visit meeting. Our Appointment software reminds visitors to bring all of the important information necessary to the meeting, while providing staff the opportunity to properly prepare for the meeting in advance. Plus our Appointment Assistant feature is a perfect tool for helping CU contact center staff – or any CU employee – confidently book member appointments with co-workers who are qualified to perform any particular service.

Key Takeaway: Many of your members still strongly desire face-to-face meetings and will appreciate the ability to conveniently book an appointment on their mobile device, tablet or computer.

The Branch Debate

In a recent blog, Mark Smith, President of Kitewheel (a self-described new-age Marketing Technology company), calls for FIs to “fully integrate branch networks with all the other digital channels…” and points out that consumers “want to be able to use both physical and digital systems whenever they choose – and they expect them to work together, in perfect harmony.”

We couldn’t agree more with his recommendations – it often seems that too much time is wasted on “the branch is dead” debates when consumers of all ages still want to visit branches. Credit unions need to continue working on an always-on member experience that meets members where they want to be met. Our Better Lobby platform is specifically designed to make this important connection between your digital channels and your branch network.

Key Takeway: Allowing members to book appointments 24/7 on their mobile device, tablet or computer with your CU underscores that your CU offers a full range of options, and places a priority on convenient and timely access to your branch staff.

Branch Transformation Trends

Branch Transformation for Financial Institutions, a complimentary industry guide produced by ATM Marketplace, takes an interesting look at how can FIs integrate physical and digital channels in order to achieve a truly omnichannel “phygital” strategy. The guide covers new tech for the teller platform, video systems, and tablets.

Our Better Lobby platform integrates with all of these areas, e.g., our Fast Visit Recorder can help with teller/universal banker productivity; our Video Meeting Queue Module provides the member service management component missing from video conferencing systems; and our user-friendly Kiosk software supports all manner of tablets for both Self Check-in and Staff Concierge visitor check-in.

Key Takeaway: We believe branch transformation can be a competitive differentiator for your CU, and we are here to help you use technology to provide a superior member experience.

Branch Customer Experience (CX) Remains Important

Recently Celent’s Bob Meara recently published a report titled Solutions for Optimizing the In-Person Customer Experience. In his research, he found the opportunity is significant. Unlike digital, where the report highlights the fact that FIs have a bevy of precise metrics to evaluate and optimize the CX, the research firm points out that the branch lobby remains comparatively poorly understood.

Our Better Lobby platform was developed specifically to address this need to granularly understand branch visitor metrics.

Better Lobby accurately measures the visitor experience – both walk-ins and appointments – and provides dozens of helpful reports that were developed directly from CU feedback.

Key Takeaway: Your lobby is arguably the most important interaction point within your CU – we are here to help you meet your lobby management requirements.

Technical Innovation in CU Branches

Codigo, a provider of marketing tools, released research that shows that the number of FIs planning to equip universal bankers (or other staff members) with tablets shot up 25% in 2017 to 51% in 2018. Interactive kiosks and interactive teller machines both came in at 44% in 2018, a ten percentage point increase. Both video conference technology and the trendy “video walls” saw increases (from 13% to 25% and from 8% to 28% respectively).

We are well prepared to help CUs of all sizes, affordably address these important trends:

For tablets and kiosks, we offer our Kiosk for Self Check-in and Concierge module that can be used on an iPad, Surface Tablet or touch-screen equipped PC – this software frees visitors to engage in other branch-provided activities with the confidence that staff know of their arrival and that they will be served in the appropriate order.

In terms of video meetings, our Video Meeting Queue Module makes it possible to seamlessly manage and serve branch visitors from any video-equipped location.

When it comes to “video walls”, we provide CUs with our Branch Service Queue Display module that allows waiting members to know their position in the service queue – it is compatible with a variety of standard flat screen monitors and its appearance can be fine-tuned to meet your operational and branding requirements.

Key Takeaway: It is essential that Credit Unions use technical innovation to compete in their local marketplace. Better Branches Technology is here to help.

Supercharge member engagement in Branches by working closely with your Contact Center

Many members believe all channels should work in concert, including the branch. The staff in your contact center and branches should understand the member’s journey without members having to provide them with their contact details.  

Using our Better Lobby Appointment Assistant, combined with our Pseudo Host Database, your contact center agents can easily book appointments for your members with a few clicks of the mouse – no need to ask for the member’s email and phone number because the Appointment Assistant can quickly pre-fill those fields, along with their first/last name.

Key Takeaway: The Appointment Assistant module makes it easy for all staff to create appointments on any Better Lobby calendar utilizing member information contained within Better Lobby.

Small Businesses Prefer Branches

J.D. Power reports that 61% of small businesses in its sample survey are much less likely to use digital banking channels, and are still classified as “branch dependent.” The research firm concluded that businesses still value working with a live person in a branch who understands what they do and what they need.

The reality is that busy business owners who value face-to-face interactions don’t have time to wait in the lobby to meet with your staff. Many observers believe that they would really appreciate the ability to schedule an appointment with your CU in the branch of their choice.

Key Takeaway: Credit unions looking to target small business owners should strongly consider adding appointment scheduling in order to deliver the personal touch that these businesses are looking for in their financial relationships.

Technology Improves In-Person Branch Operations

According to industry consultant Richard Crone, “you’ll lose a customer for an unreasonable branch experience, but they’re not integrating the branch with the mobile app. The best way to do that is with a scheduling capability.”

We agree with his assessment – allowing members to use their mobile device, tablet or computer to book an appointment with your credit union builds a bridge from these digital channels directly to your branches.

Key Takeaway: Members do not want to waste their time standing in a queue or sitting around waiting in a lobby for the next available representative. Appointments help solve these issues and create a positive branch experience.

Generation Z and Branches

GenerationZ — folks born after 1996 — will be the most diverse generation in the U.S. by2020, and at their peak will hold some $143 billion in purchasing power. Tolearn more about this generation, UNiDAYS polled 1,000 Gen Zers to see how theyfeel about money.

They found two interesting facts – one quite obvious (95% of those surveyed use their phoneexclusively to access their account) and one more surprising to many people (45%of those surveyed are hesitant to open an account with an online-only bank; 70%of those say it’s because they want a physical branch location).

Key Takeaway: Credit unions looking tocater to Gen Zers must find a way to merge the two worlds of the mobile and thebranch since both of them highly desired by many young people. We believe onekey way to build this bridge is by allowing them to book branch appointments with your staff via their mobile devices.

Intelligent Branch Banking

According to a recent McKinsey study, a staggering 80 percent of Americans still want that branch-level human touch on some or all of their banking needs – particularly when they are looking for loans, investments and financial advice. Cisco executives like to use the term “Intelligent Branch Banking” to describe a branch that drives better orchestration between digital applications and physical infrastructure, blending experience in a way that delights employees and visitors alike. They contend that a blended approach of digital technology and face to face branch service is the key to making future branches fast, safe and relevant.

Key Takeaway: We agree with Cisco’s assessment and believe that online/mobile appointments are a key component of Intelligent Branch Banking because appointments represent a perfect blending of the digital and branch experience.

Appointments Help with “Moments of Financial Truth”

During a brainstorming session of financial professionals at a recent BAI conference led by Jim Eckenrode, managing director for Deloitte’s Center for Financial Services attendees came up with the following ideas on how to make branch banking more appealing to consumers who are seeking assistance with their important financial matters:

  • making appointments online for branch visits
  • increased use of biometrics
  • smaller branch buildings
  • more highly trained staff

One session participant noted that “we also know that in those moments of truth, somebody who may be very tech savvy may not be savvy in the way of financial affairs. In those moments of truth, where most customers want a human interaction, branches are the ideal places for that.”

Key Takeaway: The vast majority of your members want to make major financial decisions with the assistance of one of your employees at one of your branches. Appointments help make meetings successful by reminding members to bring the information necessary to the meeting, while simultaneously providing your staff the opportunity to thoroughly prepare for the meeting in advance.

Branches Key Factor in Switching FIs

New research from Resonate on the reasons people switch primary banking providers indicates that there are 5.6 million people in the U.S. who plan to switch FIs in the next 12 months. Among women surveyed about switching, the top three reasons for switching FIs were:

  • more convenient branch locations (34%)
  • better service (19%)
  • better online/mobile banking services (19%)

“The data paints a picture of banking consumers who want more personalized services and technology,” says Ericka McCoy, SVP of Marketing for Resonate.

Key Takeaway: To deliver more personalized and convenient service, many credit unions are adding appointment booking capabilities to their branch network. Appointments enhance the CU’s image and encourage more branch visits which provide increased opportunities for personalized service, cross-selling and up-selling.

What do Millennials want from their FIs?

In a recent Forbes Magazine article Sebastian Rymarz, Chief Business Officer for Fundbox, postulates that consumers, especially Millennials, want the following items from their FI:

  • less friction and more help
  • personal attention
  • the customized service they’re used to getting when they’re logged in on their devices to carry over to their in-branch experience

One way to meet all three of these needs (and others as well) is by allowing your members to book appointments with you on their mobile devices and PCs/laptops.

Key Takeaway:Our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool facilitates personalized service and provides a perfect complement to your mobile and online banking systems.

Branch staff take center stage amid transformations

For $1.3 billion asset LGE Community Credit Union in Marietta, GA, the move to universal front-line staff has been good for the credit union, members, and staff. The credit union has increased referrals, reduced staff costs, and enhanced member engagement, according to an interesting article on CUNA’s website.

At Better Branches, we equip CUs that are moving to open concept branches with the tools that they need to be successful, e.g., concierge check-in via wireless devices and the Fast Visit Recorder that provides an efficient, accurate way to record short visits in a Universal MSR environment.

Key Takeaway: Managing and serving waiting visitors in a retail-style branch requires new tools and techniques — and we are here to help.

Mobile Video Banking Ready for Growth

BluCurrent Credit Union’s ($185 million & 22,000 members) five-year-old video banking program has allowed the CU to reduce branch staffing levels by two-thirds and reallocate resources to create a more robust call center and mortgage department. Using a video connection from the credit union’s contact center to the branch kiosks, their experts are able to serve three “desks” across the branch network – all with a typical wait time of under 2 minutes!

The next step for the Springfield, MO-based credit union is to launch a mobile video application in partnership with Vidyo and Invo Solutions.

Key Takeaway: Whether your credit union is ready for in-branch or mobile video (AKA BYOD, Bring Your Own Device) or both like BluCurrrent, we provide the missing links – an easy way to schedule video appointments, a method to seamlessly manage and serve branch visitors from your video-equipped branches, and coming soon a way to handle BYOD video interactions.

Branches for the Digital Age

McKinsey and Company believes that far from rendering the branch obsolete, digital technology holds the key to the branch of the future. They state that smart-branch transformation builds on three pillars:

  1. the seamless integration of cutting-edge branch technology, which has become cheaper, more reliable, and more accessible;
  2. the adoption of radically new, teller- and desk-free branch formats at every location;
  3. the use of digital technology and advanced analytics to improve the operating model in branches, including personalized, data-driven sales and real-time performance management and skill development

Key Takeaway: Better Branches is here to help credit unions with their smart branch efforts via these modules: Video Meeting Queue Module; Kiosk for Self Check-in and Concierge; Branch Service Queue Display; and Mobile Appointment Booking Tool.

Millennials Inclined to Switch FIs to Obtain Better Service

Four in 10 millennials say they have switched FIs due to poor service, and nearly twice as many (77 percent) say they would switch to a FI offering better service, according to new research from Humley, a creator of artificial intelligence chatbots for enterprise.

This begs the question: how do you deliver great service to millennials that love their mobile devices yet still want access to branches like every other demographic? Part of the answer lies in building a bridge between these two channels with online/mobile appointment booking capabilities. This helps ensure that every branch visit is both convenient for the member and productive for your well-prepared staff.

Key Takeaway: Don’t risk losing mobile-loving millennials (or any of your other members) to a rival institution – make banking fit their digital lifestyles by allowing your members to schedule in-branch appointments online and through mobile devices.

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.