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How Banks Can Minimize the Impact of Rising Omicron Covid Cases on In-branch Services

Imogen Wethered
by Imogen Wethered

Fresh concern over the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, now detected in 50 countries and 19 US states, is resulting in a return to masks, hand-sanitizer and social distancing. 

With winter and the holiday season upon us, rising Covid rates spell potentially bad news for any retail bank not equipped to offer virtual services or online appointment scheduling.  

Digital-first challenger brands are already disrupting the financial services sector and much of the foot traffic that went online during the initial pandemic lockdowns is now unlikely to return, resulting in a critical need for better technology-driven banking solutions. 

In the meantime, banks are once-again faced with the immediate challenge of keeping customers safe and separated while providing a richer, more personalised experience. 

Forward thinking banks and retail brands, such as NatWest, East West Bank, Samsung, Pandora, Burberry and Nike have moved quickly to integrate software to better choreograph their in-store and online customer experiences with scheduled appointments and virtual queuing.

More and more retail banks are now doing the same, impressed by a suite of Retail Choreography tools, proven to increase customer acquisition, sales, loyalty and brand advocacy, while providing potentially touch-less experiences and greater reassurances around in-branch capacities and waiting times. 

Let’s look at each in turn.

 

1. Appointment Scheduling for In-Branch Services

According to a Qudini survey of 2,000 US consumers carried out in June 2021, 81% expressed a desire for banks to make appointment scheduling more readily available, either for video, phone or in-branch appointments. 

Almost half (45%) wanted to be able to schedule in-branch face-to-face appointments and 37% of these were under the age of 24, showing that even the technology savvy Generation Z demand greater choice on how and where to communicate with their banks.

Using an appointment booking system. a customer can book in-branch appointments from any channel (website, app, QR code, in-store etc) at any time of the day or night. They then receive reminders by email and SMS before checking-in and being verified in-branch.

In the UK, one of the big four retail banks, NatWest, reports that appointment scheduling reduces no-shows by 70% due to the reminders. It also increases efficiency and sales as customers have more time to prepare for their appointment so when they arrive, they know what information they want to communicate plus, they’re more open to being told about new products and services. 

 

 

 

2. Appointment Scheduling for Video Banking Services

While 45% of respondents to our survey wanted to be able to schedule in-branch face-to-face appointments, almost a third (30%) expressed a preference for scheduled virtual appointments via video. Of these, customers under the age of 24 (Generation Z) were 1.6 times more likely than those over the age of 57 (Baby Boomers) to request a video appointment. 

Meanwhile, a quarter of all 41-56 year olds (Generation X) would prefer virtual appointment services, along with a third of high-spending Millennials (aged 25-40).

By gender, we discovered that men were only slightly more likely than women to want to engage with banks through virtual appointment offerings (31% vs 29%). While the business case for appointment scheduling is further strengthened by high-earning senior management. across both genders, expressing the strongest desire to want to communicate with their bank online (44%), closely followed by middle management (37%) and C-suite level executives (33%).  

When comparing customer interest in scheduling virtual appointments across banks and other types of retail outlets, we discovered that consumers prioritise digital communication with those retailers where face-to-face service is a key element of the sales process. 

Interest for virtual appointments with banks was third highest, surpassed only by real-estate agencies and travel agencies.

Banking-waitlist-app-virtual-queue-system-que-manager

 

 

3. Using a Digital Waitlist App to Manage Walk-in Customers in Virtual Queue

The Qudini survey respondents further said that if retailers (including bank branches) enabled them to join a virtual line and receive SMS updates about their wait, 53% would be more likely to visit; 55% would be more likely to return; and 53% would be more likely to tell their friends.

Again, keeping customers safe and socially distanced from one another is a key driver for using a digital waitlist system. But there are other important benefits such as keeping customers more informed, more comfortable and more secure about their position in line, while also allowing them to use their time more productively.

By equipping a branch host with the system means that they can greet customers wanting service, provide them with an accurate estimate of their wait time and keep them updated as their turn draws near (similar to how Apple stores use tablets to enable store hosts to greet walk-in customers before assigning the right advisor to them when it’s their turn – but with the additional capability to provide accurate wait time information verbally and to their phone in the process). 

Customers can also be given the option to scan a QR code or text a phone number to join the queue.

As a result, more customers will approach banks for service now that queues are not visible. While overall, many retailers experience a significant (62%) reduction in walkouts due to better management of walk-ins.

 

To Summarize

Against a backdrop of Covid uncertainty and enhanced digital behavior, consumers are looking to all retail brands to offer technology solutions that are safe, convenient and can be easily planned into their daily lives. 

By embedding these three Retail Choreography solutions into the heart of future-facing strategies, retail banks will ensure they remain relevant, while providing safe, personalized and convenient service environments for all. 

Qudini’s appointment scheduling and walk-in virtual queue management offers a convenient and premium service that drives traffic, sales and loyalty. Our Retail Choreography framework helps retailers to holistically improve their experience, operations and data to enhance profitability and drive lasting brand relevance.

 For more information on this or our other solutions such as online event booking and fast-track order pick-up contact us at info@qudini.com

 

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Latest consumer survey report

Our latest consumer survey report shows which types of retail stores and banks customers want to be able to schedule appointments within…

Recent consumer survey report

Our recent consumer survey report shows how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits and which habits will be here to stay…

Upcoming Webinar

Our Upcoming Webinar will present consumer insights on how the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits. Sign-up below for Tuesday October 12th (2pm ET | 11am PT).