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.

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.