June 6 — While branch traffic has diminished in recent years, this has made the in-branch interactions that do take place more not less important. As bookingbug’s reports stated, “… as customers spend less time in branches, each branch experience is magnified. Customers are coming into branches not for transactions but for consulting and dealing with problems.”
In general, the report found, consumers are happier with their in-branch experiences than they were a year ago. When asked to rate their in-branch experiences from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent) 36 percent of U.S. consumers gave their interactions a 5 (up five percentage points from 2016), and the majority of respondents rated in-branch time at a 4. The report did find that the U.S. population is less motivated to visit branches, but it also found that they still value staff knowledge and staff availability at a high level.
These findings may lend support to the idea that retooling the bank branch to be more inviting and personal will increase customer satisfaction. Capital One, for example, introduced its Capital One Cafes, smaller, more welcoming spaces where customers can bank, have financial questions answered, recharge mobile devices or simply arrange meetings with friends or colleagues.
“Staff helpfulness” and “Help and service” are still highly important for branch interactions as are “staff availability” and “time it takes to complete a visit.” However, the latter fell into the category of factors that “had room for improvement.” bookinbug posits that allowing customers to book an appointment online or through their mobile app could increase efficiency with branch visits by ensuring that the right person was available to this customer at the right time.
In the U.S., almost a quarter of respondents felt that being able to book an appointment in advance would definitely benefit them, and 36 percent were at least interested in the service, reporting that it might benefit them.
As an example, the Yorkshire Building Society, a U.S. banking institution, began using bookingbug to allow customers to book in-branch and telephone appointments at any of its 200+ locations. When applicants begin making an appointment, they are asked a series of qualifying questions, provided by the bank. By combining the questions with the scheduling of the appointment, Yorkshire can connect the prospective customer with the correct team member.
“As well as seeing a significant increase in in-branch mortgage appointments, we’ve cut the admin time to book and qualify these appointments in half,” said Steve Finch, senior manager of digital development at Yorkshire. “This frees up our branch staff to focus on what matters most: delivering excellent customer service.”
This is Part II, of a three-part series. Part III will be available on this site tomorrow, and Part I can be found here.