Simplified Scheduling: Future Proof Branch Strategies

Simplified Scheduling: Future Proof Branch Strategies

Innovative technologies and new digital tools are bringing massive changes to the retail banking landscape, and nowhere is this more visible than in the brick and mortar channel. But these changes don’t mean that the branch is becoming irrelevant. Even with the reduction in branch traffic and increase in mobile and self service solutions, customers still want to be able to sit down with a financial professional when making big decisions. And with millennials and Gen X ranking convenient branches as their primary consideration when selecting their financial institution, that’s not likely to change any time soon. What does need to change is the idea that they will continue sitting on hold, standing in a queue or waiting in an outdated lobby to meet with a teller or advisor at that branch. 

As a follow up to Part 4 in our series, today we will be examining the final of 5 different strategies that banks and credit unions can implement in order to set their branches up for success in this rapidly changing landscape.

Simplify Appointment Booking

If branches are going to remain relevant in the years ahead, it is vital for them to make it as easy as possible for customers to schedule a visit. Over 80% of a retail banking customer’s interactions take place through self service channels, and 67% of consumers prefer self-service over speaking with a live representative. This means that people are visiting branches less frequently, but when they do it’s for high-value face-to-face consultations. No amount of in-branch technology or improvements is going to eliminate the friction caused when they visit a location to discover that nobody can see them at that time. 

With a unified, self-service scheduling platform for all channels, financial institutions can streamline the appointment booking process across every customer touchpoint. Whether an appointment comes through via your website, mobile app, or even your social platform, customers should be able to book that meeting as quickly as easily as possible. With this in place, financial institutions can effectively remove the guesswork from the task of improving efficiencies in the booking process. This can not only provide the benefit of increasing the number of high-value appointments driven to your branch locations, but also enable better optimization of employee schedules to improve their overall efficiency.


“Whether the business is ready or not, your customers are ready to start booking appointments online. Don’t wait to implement appointment scheduling — do it immediately! You can miss out on valuable appointments if your customers have to wait until working hours to call and book in.”

Michael Christian
Project Leader, Jackson Hewitt

This is especially important considering that the branch is all about the people in it and their ability to serve customers. Tellers need to be available throughout the day, but in greater numbers for peak transaction times like lunch hours and Friday mornings. Universal bankers should be able to shift from service activities to sales activities like outbound calling when there is less branch traffic to deal with. Training and branch meetings can be scheduled to minimize impact on branch operations. With better management around staff schedules, customers can be better serviced, leading to further increases in the value of their appointments.


What Comes After a Booked Appointment?

Important to keep in mind is that self-service can’t stop after the meeting has been scheduled. As with any appointment, life happens and schedules change. Without a simple self-service method for making adjustments to their appointment, customers who have taken advantage of your self-service channel to create their booking are at higher risk for becoming no-shows. Likewise, providing more self-service channels through reminder messages and instant check-in can help to further improve the effectiveness of your self-service solution.

1. Rescheduling

Most scheduling solutions provide a method for rescheduling via email, but with 9 in 10 consumers saying that they would like businesses to provide SMS text messaging options for communicating with them, and 52% saying that they would prefer texting customer support over their current method of communication, it’s becoming vital to include this channel as well.

2. Reminders

Along with the initial message providing instructions on how to reschedule, text messages also allow for faster and more effective communication when it comes to reminder messages. In fact, SMS open rates are as high as 98%, compared to just 20% of all emails. And, on average, it takes 90 seconds for someone to respond to a text, opposed to 90 minutes for an email. 

Why millennials prefer text - Simplified Scheduling: Future Proof Branch Strategies

Many companies have already begun providing appointment reminders via text message, with 51% of millennials saying that they are already receiving them. When asked why they enjoy text messages over other reminders, these millennial customers say it is because they’re “an effective way to be reminded on their own time” (60%), “one less thing to have to remember” (57%) and “the most convenient way to be reminded” (55%). Of course, with 51% saying that they are receiving them, that means that 49% of companies are still missing out on this opportunity to increase convenience and decrease no-shows. If these are things your organization is interested in (and they should be), it’s time to get started. 

3. Check-in

Beyond all the scheduling and rescheduling issues, text messages can take things even further by allowing for a simple method for customers to let staff know that they have arrived for their meeting. Rather than having customers wait to speak with someone to let them know they’ve arrived, providing them with the option to check in via text can help to streamline the process and allow for a more personal approach. A simple message sent out 10 minutes prior to the meeting that instructs them to reply ‘1’ to check-in when they have arrived opens a channel of direct communication between them and the staff member they are there to speak with. This allows staff to come out and greet them personally, setting the meeting up for greater success.

Check out the other articles in the Future Proof Branch Strategies Series:

PART ONE – Self Service Kiosks 

Examining the benefits and capabilities that self service kiosks can bring to your branch by eliminating many of the pain points that customers associate with their visit.

PART TWO – Café Style Branches 

We discuss design changes in the lobby that can help to encourage relationship building and conversations between advisors and their customers.

PART THREE – Smart ATMs

Exploring the changes that are being introduced through new Smart ATMs and where that may take us — and the frontline staff that many fear they replace — in the years ahead.

PART FOUR – Remote Video Banking

Examining the video banking trend and the way it is changing as more customers demand the ability to dial in from home.


What Next?

Looking for more strategies to meet your customers’ changing expectations around the in-branch experience? Download the full report Becoming Future Proof: Five Proven Strategies for the Branches of the Future to learn more methods in technology, design, and service that branches can take advantage of to adapt in the rapidly changing financial landscape.

Interested to hear what top experts in financial customer experience have to say about the coming challenges branches are looking forward to? Watch our panel discussion Embracing a Customer-First Mindset: Eliminate Friction Points in Your Customer Multi-Channel Journey.

Ready to start taking steps to ensure your branch is set up to meet your customer’s evolving expectations head on? Schedule a consultation with Coconut Software to learn more about how our tailored solutions can help.