4 ways bank branches can improve their CX strategy

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

The retail banking world is the midst of major transformation, with new technology making it possible for banks to communicate with their customers in exciting new ways, and with the majority of customers now expecting it.

The banking sector is no stranger to digital change and transformation – in fact, consulting firms have made millions helping banks improve their digital capabilities and build agile, innovation-inspiring teams for years now.

With Covid-19 changing everyday life as we know it and stopping many from being able to access services at their local bank branches, banking institutions have amped up their digital efforts even further to support their customers from afar.

But this has set a dangerous precedent. According to Salesforce, 88% of consumers expect companies to accelerate their digital initiatives, while 68% stated that Covid-19 has elevated their expectations of brands’ digital capabilities.

With a wealth of new technology and initiatives at their disposal, banks must carefully consider what new customer experience elements they want to incorporate into branches going forward.

What type of customers visit bank branches?

Qudini recently surveyed 2,000 US consumers to find out a little more about how they engage with their banking providers.

We discovered that – before Covid-19 – 91% of consumers within our survey visited retail bank branches. 9% said they did so often, 40% said they did so sometimes and 24% said they did so rarely.

Older age demographics are more likely to visit retail banks often and sometimes. Younger demographics are significantly more likely to never visit retail banks.

Consumers from higher income households are almost 2 times more likely to visit branches often than those in the lowest income groups, while men are more likely than women to visit retail banks often and slightly more likely to visit sometimes.

Consumers are visiting banks less

As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, 48% of retail bank customers are visiting these types of branches less than before, while 43% are visiting them the same as before. Only 9% of customers are visiting these types of branches more than before.

One of the most common causes for concern when visiting a bank branch is the lines to enter branches or receive service. In the survey, two thirds (66%) of consumers agreed with the statement that “A long waiting experience would make me less likely to return to a branch”. 30% strongly agreed and 33% somewhat agreed.

Interestingly, 17% will only tolerate a wait of up to 3 minutes. 22% will wait between 3-7 minutes and 21% will be willing to wait between 8 and 10 minutes. In total, this means that more than half of retail bank customers (48%) will only wait up to 10 minutes for service.

Much more can be done to draw consumers into branches with effective customer experiences and video banking software.

What do customers want when visiting a bank branch?

In our survey of 2,000 US consumers, we asked them what they need from their banking providers right now, and here’s what we discovered:

1. 62% want video banking or virtual appointments

2. 38% want the ability to book in-branch appointments

3. 36% want banks to have virtual wait line systems instead of waiting in physical lines

4. 35% want customer hosts at the front of branches to help them with their queries.

1) Video banking

Almost two third of consumers, 62%, said they want video banking or virtual appointments. Video banking is when a banker or customer services consultant talks directly with a customer over a video call or video chat.

With an effective appointment booking system, customers can schedule video banking appointments by visiting the bank’s website or app, selecting a time-slot that suits them, then attending a video call to chat directly with the expert.

This allows customers to easily access support services without having to visit a branch. According to the same Salesforce survey mentioned earlier, almost 70% of customers now expect companies to create new ways to get existing products and services (such as banking services) to customers virtually.

2) In-branch appointments

Another high in demand service is the ability to book in-branch appointments for services such as mortgage consultations or product offerings.

A great way to ensure a customer journey goes smoothly is by investing in appointment scheduling software. This technology allows banks to offer a highly personalized, engaging and efficient customer journey. With an online booking system, customers can simply select a time and place that suits them, and receive SMS and email reminders to keep them engaged before their appointment.  

3) Virtual queuing systems (virtual wait line systems)

More than a third (36%) of consumers said they would find it useful if their bank provided a virtual wait line system instead of requiring that they wait in a physical line.

To take the pain out of waiting for in-branch services, many leading banks are using queuing apps that allows customers to wait remotely, such as at your in-branch cafe if you have one, in your waiting area, or leave the branch entirely (which is obviously preferential during Covid-19 times).

Once in a line, customers receive real-time updates and reminders – they can track their position and estimated wait time through a web page and receive a notification via SMS when it’s their turn. 

This creates a superior customer experience, as customers can enjoy their wait by doing something more productive, engaging or safer than standing in a line. 

4) Branch hosts with a customer host app

During the coronavirus pandemic, many customers are feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Positioning a customer representative at the front of the branch with the technology on hand to enter customers into virtual queues, sign them up to appointments or point them in the right direction goes a long way right now.

That’s why 32% of consumers said they would appreciate customer hosts outside of bank branches with a tablet device they can use to help with a multitude of customer journeys. A survey by PepsiCo and reported by Finextra found 94% of Americans say that empathy from brands is more important than ever – and nothing says empathy like having a friendly customer host at the front of your branches.

How a good customer experience impacts ROI

Our survey also found that retail banks who use any of these solutions to choreograph their customers’ experience stand to gain significantly through improved revenues and brand relationships across channels.

The solutions would positively impact consumers’ interactions with banks in one or more of the following ways:

  • 46% would be more likely to buy something in-branch and 47% would also be more likely to shop with the bank online – indicating that using digital tools to choreograph their customer experience will enable any bank to increase their overall omni-channel revenues with up to half of customers engaging with these services.
  • 50% would be more likely to visit the bank branch in the first place – showing all the solutions can help retailers to drive and retain branch foot traffic.
  • 53% would be more likely to return again and 51% would be more likely to tell their friends about the bank – indicating that all the solutions can help banks to improve customer loyalty and advocacy amongst more than half of their customers to ultimately attract more customers to their brand.
  • 54% would feel safer and happier and 54% would think better of the bank – demonstrating that all the solutions can help brands to improve their relationships and relevance amongst customers.
  • 48% would be more likely to choose the bank over their competitors – demonstrating that Retail Choreography solutions can hugely help brands to improve their brand relevance and to win out against competitors.

Discover how these solutions can work in your branches here, or get in touch with our friendly team to find out more here.

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