What Your Branch Appointments Strategy Is Missing
The current public health crisis has forced many banks to temporarily close branches or limit in-branch services in compliance with social distancing guidelines. At the same time, digital adoption has spiked for customers looking for alternatives to face-to-face interaction. As a result, successfully serving customers during this disruption requires increased cross-channel engagement and coordination. Branch appointments are a big part of this.
Appointments enable you to continue supporting the more complex sales and service conversations customers typically prefer to take to a representative in the branch. Appointments are also vital for building personal connections with clients, one of the major short comings of digital banking channels. So how can you offer customers easy, convenient, productive branch appointments, even during disruption?
What Makes a Good Appointment?
Customers tend to bring their most complicated questions to the branch—those they want an expert to help them navigate like mortgages or fraud and identity theft issues. Traditionally, these have been ad hoc, walk-in meetings; a customer arrives at the branch, provides some preliminary information, and waits until a qualified banker is available. With the rise of online banking and other digital channels, appointments have also gone online. Now in-branch meetings can be scheduled in advance using web portals or mobile apps; and, in the current era of social distancing, some banks have also started offering virtual meetings.
However, until now, adoption rates for appointment booking have been relatively low, and in many cases, the customer experience has not been ideal or connected. The disruption caused by COVID-19 means that many banks and customers are relying on appointments more than ever before—to manage branch capacity, to safely meet with customers, and to empower branch staff to engage customers where and how they are most comfortable.
No matter the type of meeting, there are a few core characteristics to every good appointment.
- Easy to Book – Clients can easily find the services and providers they need, at a convenient time and locations.
- Delay Free – Clients don’t encounter disruptions or long waits when they arrive for their appointment.
- Prepared Provider – The client meets with a banker or team member who is ready for the appointment, has access to relevant preliminary information, and has the necessary skills or certifications.
- Appropriate Follow Up – There is a closed loop after the appointment, ensuring that the client receives any information they need and appropriate next steps are taken.
Getting these factors right is key to ensuring that branch appointments drive customer satisfaction, engagement, and loyalty.
Using Technology to Drive Connection and Engagement
Unlocking the full potential of your branch appointment strategy is made possible by an end-to-end solution with real-time intelligence. From booking through to follow up, a verified appointment solution can simplify each step and ensure a quality customer experience.
Firstly, having a robust booking tool integrated into your web or mobile app is key to making booking easy for customers, and to capturing all the data you need to make sure an appointment goes smoothly. However, an online widget alone is not enough.
To ensure the best possible customer experience, you also need a solution that works seamlessly with branch schedules. With a schedule-aware bank appointment solution, customers can be confident that when they book a meeting, there will be a skilled, certified banker ready to meet them and any changes are easily accommodated. Similarly, an intelligent appointments solution can use actual data to ensure that adequate prep and wrap-up time is baked into branch schedules, as well as accounting for walk-ins using historic trend data.
As a result, a customer can book an appointment, arrive at the branch at the right time, and be engaged by a banker who is prepared to speak to their specific needs and concerns. Especially now, this ensures that clients feel safe and comfortable in the branch, and feel respected and supported as a customer.
To learn more about the role of emotional connection in branch operations, check out our on-demand webinar, “How Superior Branch Execution Can Drive Customer Engagement & Efficiency,” featuring guest experts from Forrester and a Top US Bank.