Improve the experience and safety of your lobby visitors

Personal finances need constant attention, especially when disaster hits. In difficult times, many people want face-to-face advice which is why many CUs are finding creative and safe ways to keep their lobbies open. Here are some ways that we help CUs accomplish this goal:

  • Appointments – Many FIs and other organizations are currently switching to appointment-only branch visits.
  • Online Queuing – Online queuing addresses lobby waiting issues by empowering your members to queue in advance or avoid queues altogether.
  • “Text me when I’m soon to be served” – With this new feature in Better Lobby, visitors are free to wait for branch service wherever they like and know that they will receive a text when they are soon to be served.

Key Takeaway: Branches have always provided the most personalized way to deliver service, information, and counseling. When everyday life is disrupted unexpectedly, face-to-face branch visits become even more critical in positioning your CU as a trusted advisor.

Branches as Advice Centers – Even More Important Going Forward

Jon Voorhees, a banking Consultant at Peak Performance Consulting Group, predicts that “the need for advice or account services will increase as more customers need help charting a new path forward financially in a post-pandemic world. The role of the branch has already been shifting more to an advice center in the last few years and that trend will accelerate.”

Financial advice is best delivered face-to-face and when both parties are well prepared and have set aside a dedicated block of time to hold these important discussions. Both of those conditions are best met by appointments.

Key Takeaway: One-on-one appointments with CU staff can easily be scheduled online using the Better Lobby Mobile Appointment Booking Tool. Appointments not only remind visitors of the date/time of their appointment, but also remind them to bring the information necessary to the meeting, while simultaneously providing staff the opportunity to thoroughly prepare for the meeting in advance.

Branches and Digital Enablement

In Deloitte’s 2019 Banking Industry Outlook report, the “Big Four” accounting firm notes that “the importance of the branch in attracting and retaining customers, contrary to conventional wisdom, should remain…branches will continue to have value, especially with greater digital enablement.” And their global consumer survey backs up this prediction – it showed that respondents were likely to increase branch use if the following features are offered:

  • Extended service hours through virtual remote services with a representative 36%
  • Digital screen self-service with representative help if needed 34%
  • Ability to schedule a personal appointment for a virtual video meeting with a representative 31%

Key Takeaway: Of course, this 2019 poll was taken before the current pandemic, so one can only imagine that these percentages have risen. Whether your members need to meet with a product specialist or a contact center agent, appointments improve the efficiency and personalization of both face-to-face and virtual interactions.

The Branch is Still a Rock

In a recent timely article, long time banking consultant Dave Martin offered some insightful observations on the value of branches:

  • “Our branch employees will have numerous opportunities over the next few months to strengthen relationships and build customer loyalty like few other times in history.”
  • “There will be many customers dealing with unplanned issues and concerns caused by an economic disruption, and in anxious times folks are drawn to positive, empathetic, and helpful people.”

He concludes that: “In trying times, branches are the rocks of many folks’ banking relationships.”

Key Takeaway: At Better Branches Technology, we are fully committed to helping credit unions be that rock for their members. We have numerous solutions that can help CUs keep their lobbies open while safely and efficiently serving members.

Why you need a branch

A recent Forbes article laid out six compelling reasons why consumers still want to use – and need to use – branches:

  1. Personal Touch to Solve Problems
  2. Advice on Complex Financial Topics
  3. In-Person Suggestions for Other Financial Solutions
  4. Cash and Foreign Currency
  5. Special In-Bank Services (ie, notary, coin cashing, safe deposit box, cashier’s check, etc.)
  6. Business Banking Relationships

Key Takeaway: As long as people need to talk to other people to understand their finances and make decisions about their money, brick-and-mortar banking is still going to serve a vital need.

Branches Play a Key Role in Every CU’s Digital First Strategy

NCR’s SVP and General Manager Doug Brown recently observed that “the branch is a digital ecosystem in and of itself and it should be connected to the digital banking, self-service ecosystem.” He is convinced that the branch can play a vital role in the creation of a “digital first” financial institution – and so are we.

We have developed three solutions that enable CUs to connect their branches directly to their members’ digital experiences: 1) the Mobile Appointment Booking Tool; 2) Online Queueing; and 3) Video Meeting Queues.

Key Takeaway: One of the primary missions of Better Branches Technology is to help bring your CU’s branch experience into the 21st century, and we accomplish this via innovative software that links your digital channels to your branches.

Streamlining Your Branch Operations

Two major prerequisites for streamlining branch operations are measurement and analysis. There is an old – but true – saying:

You can only manage what you measure.

As Kerim Tumay of Kiran Analytics recently pointed out in a recent article: “In order to improve operational efficiency, you need to have an unbiased, detailed view of customer arrivals, wait times, and branch workflows, as well as how associates are spending their time on both serving customers and completing non-customer-facing activities.”

Key Takeaway: One of the easiest and best ways to streamline your members’ lobby experience is to introduce a robust visitor management system. Better Lobby captures a variety of metrics that are important to management – in short, it measures “hard to measure” metrics that help your CU improve sales and member service, while lowering overall cost-of-service.

Visit History Link

The Better Lobby Visit History Link provides CU staff with fast and easy access to past member visit information enabling them to better serve the member on the current visit.

Member’s Visit History Report
Pressing the “Visit History” link pops the report below, showing the member’s past branch visits in chronological order.

Valuing Your Members Time

Everyone agrees that the branch is shifting from a transactional place to an advisory place. The move away from transactions has led to branch staff to spend more time on account servicing transactions and sales/new account opening.

This means that credit unions must focus on how they interact with members and prospects in these two specific areas. We would argue that branch visitors want an efficient and speedy interaction whether they have account servicing issues or want to open a new account.

Key Takeaway: Members expect their credit union to value their time – Better Lobby Online Queuing Module helps meet that expectation by helping to ensure that that they spend less time waiting in your lobby for service.

Transforming Branches into Advice Centers

As branch transactions continue to decline, the expectation of many in the industry is that the role of the still large number of credit union branches will shift to an advisory function. One of the pillars of good advice is knowing exactly why the member has visited your branches in the past – their visit history.

Of course, this knowledge can be obtained via expensive and complicated CRM systems, but we feel that we offer a much easier and affordable solution as part of our Better Lobby platform: our Visit History link which provides a complete visit history for the individual being served with just a single mouse click!

Key Takeaway: the Visit History feature helps deepen relationships by demonstrating a knowledge of the member’s history and needs, and that the CU is in “command” of member information.

Consumers embrace mobile banking, but still value branches

According to an Adobe study that was conducted in late 2019, 75% of consumers that they surveyed still believe physical branches matter and 70% of them have still visited a branch location in the past month.

Craig Peasley, director of marketing at Adobe, said “the data shows that there’s still room to delight customers with offerings that combine the face-to-face service that’s still popular and digital offerings.

One way to delight your members is to make it easy to visit your branches while simultaneously assuring them that they will receive speedy service. We offer two ways to accomplish this: 1) appointments and 2) online queueing.

Key Takeaway: Appointments and online queuing strengthen both your digital channels and your branch network – a true win-win.

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.