What Matters Most When Selecting a New FI

Surprisingly, even among younger consumers, digital and mobile banking is not one of the top-three reasons for selecting a new FI.

A study completed in October 2019 by Market Street Research for the New England Financial Marketing Association found that top 2 factors in choosing a new FI were:

  1. Fees
  2. Convenient branches

It has never been more important than now to make it easy to open new accounts, and accepting appointments helps deliver a more streamlined and convenient branch service experience to both new and existing members.

Key Takeaway: Convenient branches continues to come out near the top in study after study of all demographics when it comes to selecting an FI.

Adding Value to Branch Digital Signage

For many years lobby digital wall displays have presented branch visitors with news, sports updates, financial health tips, fraud alerts, video footage featuring volunteer events and fundraisers, and of course CU products and services pitches. Yet one often overlooked feature is showing waiting members their position in the service queue.

Better Lobby Wall Display module not only shows visitors their place in line, but it can also be configured to identify those visitors that have appointments, so that “walk-in” visitors are not surprised when those with appointments are served before them. It also supports our new Online Queuing module by showing members who have “virtually checked-in” remotely.

Key Takeaway: Boost the usefulness of your digital displays – and your member service levels – by showing your branch visitors their position in the queue with the affordable Better Lobby Wall Display module.

There is Synergy in Blending the Physical and Digital

By some accounts, digital brands with a physical presence grow eight times more quickly. For example, Amazon continues to make a big push into the physical channel – the online giant recognizes that there is synergy in blending the physical and digital, where all touchpoints support each other and understand what role they play.

We pride ourselves on providing CUs with the tools that they need to build bridges from their digital channels to their branch network, e.g., our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool and our latest Online Queuing module which enables branch visitors to place their name in the Better Lobby Main Service Queue (for walk-in service) before arriving at the branch so that they spend less time waiting in the lobby for service.

Key Takeaway: Your members are increasingly moving their transactional banking to mobile/online banking, yet they still have a huge desire for physical experiences, and this will never change.

Branches Drive New Business

According to the World Branch Report, three out of five (60%) retail banking executives say the branch is their leading sales channel — counting account opening, credit cards, insurance, investments, and loans. While overall branch transactions and visits are down, the fact remains that branch visits continue to produce the largest proportion of loan and other new business.

However as research firm Novantas points out, visitors demand quality conversations when they make the effort to come into a branch. One way to ensure quality visits is to offer appointments so that branch staff are adequately prepared for every visit. Plus, appointments help increase branch sales success by reminding visitors to bring the information necessary to the meeting.

Key Takeaway: To help increase use of appointment scheduling software, Novantas suggests promoting the idea to consumers that they will get better service with the right professional by scheduling.

Branches as Sales Generators

According to research by McKinsey & Company, while 60 percent of banking consumers use digital channels, online banking only generates 25 percent of sales. Their conclusion: Branches remain relevant, particularly for new accounts and product sales efforts.

Our CU clients have found that our Appointment Scheduler helps increase branch sales success by reminding visitors to bring the information necessary to the meeting, while providing staff the opportunity to prepare for the meeting in advance. The bottom line is that appointments positively impact branch sales.

Key Takeaway: the branch remains a mainstay of account openings and sales efforts as well as a key component for long-term member relationship building.

Cutting Edge Kiosk Features

We are excited about the latest enhancements to our Better Lobby Kiosk that are now available in Version 5.0.

It includes some valuable new features:

•          Text Me When I’m Soon to be Served – optional text feature available to advise visitors when they are near the top of the service queue.

•          Text Me an Appointment Link – this kiosk link makes it easy for visitors at busy branches to open the Mobile Appointment Booking Tool on their mobile device.

•          Support for Online Queuing.

Key Takeaway: This provides a way for credit unions to leverage SMS technology to enhance the member experience, while building another bridge from the digital channel to the branch.

A First in the CU Marketplace: Online Queuing

We are very pleased to provide a new, brand enhancing, technology to CUs: Online Queuing 1.0. This module builds another important bridge from your digital channel to your branch network by letting members join a branch queue before leaving home. Of course, the first “bridge” was Better Lobby Appointments.

In addition to offering convenience to members by freeing them to use their wait time for travel to the branch or other out-of-branch activities, branch management also gains benefits, e.g., they gather insights into walk-in volume shortly before it occurs allowing for better utilization of their staff.

Key Takeaway: For the first time ever, your members can now use their mobile phone/tablet/PC to place their name in the lobby queue before arriving at the branch and spend less time waiting in your lobby.

Consumers still turning to branches to open new accounts

When it comes to opening new accounts, consumers still tend to trust the branch over digital channels, according to a new study from Forrester Research. It turns out that while the digital channels remain important, the ongoing importance of a human touch cannot be ignored.

Seventy-one percent of U.S. adults who regularly use the Internet still go to a branch when opening a new checking account, the Forrester study observed. For savings accounts, 64% go to a branch, while 53% open certificates of deposit at branches.

Key Takeaway: Without a doubt, credit unions of the future will only prosper with human touch member service.

Why tech-savvy members still visit branches

About three-quarters of Gen Y (73.4 percent) have visited a branch to open an account, according to a J.D. Power retail banking study. Moreover, about 60 percent of younger adults told the research firm that they have visited the branch within the last three months. And according to a 2018 Gallup survey, 66 percent of millennials had visited a brick-and-mortar branch in the previous six months.

These facts come from a Bankrate article that also uses an interesting term: IRL (in real life) banking. When it comes serious financial interactions such as mortgages, financial consultations, business startup advice, etc., it turns out that even the most tech savvy people prefer a branch visit.

Key Takeaway: When your members seek monetary advice or need to discuss complex financial needs, one of the best ways to satisfy this need is to offer them a convenient digital appointment booking option. CUs that offer appointments to help satisfy IRL banking needs can also make better use of specialized employees that float between branches, who can now potentially see more members within a day.

What Age Demographic Visits Branches Most Often?

This simple question has quite a surprising answer according to Mercator Advisory Group’s research: Among those who visit a branch over twice a month – young consumers visit most often! Here are some more interesting stats from the research firm’s recent report:

  • 56% of 18-34 year old consumers visit their branch over twice a month
  • Nearly a half of all consumers (46%) visit a branch twice a month
  • One fifth of consumers (21%) visit a branch once a week

Key Takeaway: The branch remains extremely relevant and CUs must strive to make it as convenient as possible to visit their branches by offering appointments, self check-in kiosks and other technologies the help ensure a positive member experience.

Branch vs. Digital Banking Debate

A recent Financial Brand article highlighted the fact that too much focus on the back and forth debate over branch and digital preferences of consumers diverts attention from providing a superior member experience. The article concluded that people expect hassle-free interactions and a satisfactory result no matter how they do business with your credit union.

Our CU clients have found that offering appointments to their time-pressed members is a great way to build a bridge between their branches and their digital channels. They note that the convenience of quickly and easily booking a branch appointment helps boost member satisfaction levels, while increasing staff productivity.

Key Takeaway: Your CU can help solve the Branch vs. Digital conundrum by allowing members to schedule appointments via the Web, mobile devices or by contacting agents through your contact center.

Putting the human touch in banking

As many FIs rush to digital in an effort to please consumers, many leave behind one of the most important elements that consumers want: the human touch.

“People and relationships still matter,” says Bob Meara, senior analyst at Celent’s banking group. “All things equal we do business with people we like and you have to have some person-to-person interaction—even in digital.”

Whether they are seeking financial advice or looking to solve an issue, many members still prefer in-person interactions in your branch.

Key Takeaway: Important conversations are best pre-arranged by appointments so that both the member and the CU employee are well prepared for the discussion.

Millennials Still Want Branches

“As Millennials grow older, they express increasing interest in visiting a physical location once they have exhausted their online research,” states Joe Wheeler, Senior Director, Mid-Size Bank Practice at J.D. Power. He also emphasizes the fact that CUs that want to exploit this opportunity to work with Millennials must make sure branch staff is appropriately prepared.

We would add that the best way that they can be prepared for these important branch visits is by appointment scheduling.

Key Takeaway: Not only do our appointment tools provide your staff the opportunity to prepare for meetings in advance, but follow-up meetings are also made easier to arrange as staff can be identified by name and picture on our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool.

The value of an old-fashioned visit to your local branch

Laura Doering, Assistant Professor of Strategic Management at the University of Toronto, pointed out some interesting results from her research in a recent online article: when borrowers have personal relationships with lenders, they are more likely to repay their loans on time, whereas those with distant relationships miss more payments.

She recommends that people who do most banking online should develop a relationship with someone at their primary FI and this relationship should consist of more than just email or texting — it should include in-person meetings. We concur with her conclusion that building and maintaining personal face-to-face relationships generates tremendous benefits on both sides.

Key Takeaway: Building personal relationships at the branch with your members is invaluable and offering appointments to your busy members is one of the best ways to facilitate these face-to-face meetings.

Effective Financial Guidance Starts with Appointments

In a recent article in Forbes, a CUNA Mutual Group executive stated that a retail branch model that focuses on in-person advice and service is the branch’s most promising future. He states “fully 78% of retail bank customers want guidance from their banks, according to a JD Power study. And the most effective way to deliver that guidance is still face-to-face.”

We would add that the best way to deliver this advice is by appointment. If branches are the ideal place for complex conversations to take place, then the best way to make sure that the right person is available to handle these important lengthy consultations is to have an appointment booked on their schedule.

Key Takeaway: Our Mobile Appointment Booking Tool gives your staff the opportunity to thoroughly prepare for their meetings in advance, and also increases branch sales success by reminding members to bring the information necessary to the meeting.

Tracking Branch Activities

Bob Meara, Senior Analyst at research firm Celent, says “if you ask branch bankers about the details of their teller transactions, they can wax eloquent about those metrics.” What is less-often tracked and measured, Meara finds, are factors of current branch activity that relate to what many regard as the increasingly dominant role of branches, as sales and service locations, and regarding the quality of the visitor experience.

Better Lobby can help in this regard because it captures a wide variety of critical branch metrics that are important to management – metrics that are completely invisible to CUs that do not have a visitor management platform in place.

Key Takeaway: Our Main Service Queue can fill in the gaps when it comes to knowing what’s going on in your branches, while our Survey Trigger module can help you obtain accurate and timely responses from your members about the quality of their visit when their branch visit is still fresh in their minds.

Consumers Happier Using Branch+Digital Than Digital Only

Data from recent J.D. Power & Associates research confirms that the most satisfied banking consumers are those who regularly use branches and also use digital channels. The author of the report points out that “Millennials are coming back into the branches as they grow older and their financial needs become more sophisticated.”

Credit unions looking to meet the financial needs of their members would be well advised to offer the convenience of online and mobile appointment booking capabilities to their busy members.

Key Takeaway: Digital and branch capabilities are very much married and credit unions can use appointments to forge stronger member connections and keep this digital/branch marriage strong and thriving.

What will the Branch of the Future look like?

In a recent article in Finextra, Andrew Beatty, FIS Head of Banking Strategy, concluded that: The Branch Isn’t Dead; It’s Reborn.

He predicted that future branches will be become much more inviting – think coffee shops – and that visitors will be greeted with tablets where universal bankers can assist them with all banking needs.

We agree – and to help your staff accomplish this goal we offer our Better Lobby Kiosk 4.0 module which supports both visitor self check-in and Concierge staff check-in (or any combination thereof).

Key Takeaway: CU branches of the future must be member-centric in nature, and we are here to help you meet this goal.

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.