When More Is Better: Balancing Bank Appointment Quantity and Quality
If you had to choose between a buffet or a chef-prepared entree, what would you choose?
What if you could have both? A Michelin Star meal and have as much as your heart desires?
Well, you can have both with bank appointment scheduling at your institution. It is possible to achieve quantity while maintaining quality.
Right now, appointments at your financial institution may not exactly feel like luxury dining. Your frontline is likely overwhelmed after the last few years, and you’re probably understaffed like many banks and credit unions across the country.
But, increasing appointment quantity doesn’t have to create undue stress on your staff and advisors. In fact, if you have the right tools, you can have more and better banking appointments.
In this article, we’ll break down the reasons why appointments are worth investing in and how you can strike the balance between appointment quality and quantity with five key strategies. (Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?)
Why Your Institution Needs More High-Quality Appointments
1. Quality Bank Appointments Drive Customer or Member Growth
In 2022, 68% of people who started signing up for an online banking product stopped and never finished, up from 63% in 2020. And after a “bad” onboarding experience, more than half of clients won’t try again. What if one in two people you met never spoke to you again? (Imagine! 😱)
Whereas, if you give people an easy button to press to book an appointment they’re more likely to complete a transaction or sign up for a service. Appointments lead to better interactions with customers and members—they’re not just interacting with a chatbot or getting lost on your website, but talking things through with a real person.
This opportunity for face-to-face interaction—online or in person—is an advantage you have over neobanks. Less than half of neobank customers surveyed by J.D. Power felt it was convenient to reach a customer service representative. And customers’ positive sentiment increases by 29% when they report reaching direct banks’ representatives. Those connections lead to better relationships and member growth over time. More appointments lead to more opportunities to connect with clients, solve their financial woes, and sell your products and services. Which brings us to benefit 2…
2. Appointment Software Helps Staff Improve Outcomes
Imagine shifting what used to be a 60-minute meeting—the typical length for a general banking appointment—to an efficient 15-minute conversation. That’s the power of bank scheduling software (and your ticket to avoiding appointment overwhelm).
With self-serve appointment software, clients share the context for their appointment in advance, staff are equipped to prepare and bring tailored solutions, and clients show up prepared with the documentation they need to complete their service in fewer appointments. All this adds up to incredible efficiency gains. Banks and credit unions that use appointment and queuing software tend to see a 90% reduction in staff time needed to book appointments. They also see a 33% reduction in the number of appointments it takes to close a transaction. Your staff’s time is precious, and appointments give them more of it.
3. Convenient Appointments Lead to Satisfied Repeat Clients
Don’t underestimate the power of appointments on your customer or member experience and bottom line. According to Forrester, a one (1) point improvement in a CX index score leads to $8.19 per customer of annual incremental revenue for multi-channel banks and $9.82 per customer for direct banks.
When those banks and credit unions use bank appointment scheduling software, they see up to a $170 increase per customer in their lifetime value and an average of 21-point increase in their NPS score. How do appointments do all this? Customers can now book appointments instantly, attend them via video, phone, or in person, and receive automatic email and SMS reminders. Not to mention, the ease of rescheduling appointment times, locations, or communication methods. Giving clients more choices, channels, and autonomy goes a long way to adding value to every customer or member interaction.
Learn 4 key ways appointment scheduling drives institutional ROI → 💰
How to Balance Banking Appointment Volume and Value
The key to avoiding overwhelm when it comes to your appointment program is carefully striking a balance between appointment volume and quality.
Implement these five strategies as you roll out your appointments program, or if you already have one and want to see it improve.
1. Launch Your Digital Self-Serve Appointment Solution
Set things up so customers and members can book an appointment online to save time. Staff can also use the same system to book appointments on each other’s calendars—no more accidental double bookings or guessing at colleagues’ availability. This singular system for all calendars is a game changer for staff efficiency and helps them better manage appointments.
Appointments and queuing software also makes things more efficient by:
- Giving clients the ability to easily book a time and location that’s convenient for them, 24/7.
- Offering multiple meeting formats like in-branch, phone call, or video call.
- Allowing team members the ability to book client appointments on each other’s calendars, saving time on back and forth.
- Giving advisors personalized booking links they can share with customers.
- Sending automatic reminders to clients before their appointment.
- Saving transcripts and recording certain activities in your CRM.
If you plan to launch an appointments program, ensure you give your staff a few weeks between being trained and actually having to use it. The team at Kemba FCU left a two-week incubation period for associates to practice setting up appointments and understanding the system. “On a scale of 1-10 in importance, I’d say this was a 20. It generated a lot of knowledge among the associates that encouraged members to understand it and find it super easy,” says Candy Shearer, Senior Member Care Manager at Kemba FCU.
Also, craft materials for training on how to conduct good appointments. This’ll allow staff to practice with each other and troubleshoot, so clients’ first experience is positive.
2. Offer Clients Clarity With Automatic Reminders
Sending pre-appointment reminders is another strategy that increases the quality of your appointments when you’re light on staff. Instruct clients on exactly what they need to prepare for the appointment, and what will happen in their appointment right in their calendar invite, confirmation email, and automatic reminders. Include the time, location, and clear instructions like, “Bring a pay stub” or “This service will require a credit check.”
The best practice is to send email and SMS confirmations at least one day, and one hour before their appointment. This ensures clients show up and that the appointment is faster—meaning staff can finish services more quickly and move onto the next client sooner.
3. Send Clients Pre-Appointment Questions to Prep Your Staff
One of the benefits of appointment scheduling software is that your staff can better prepare for their interactions with your customers—leading to more efficient meetings. Many tools offer the option to automatically send a pre-appointment questionnaire (or include a few questions in your booking form).
By asking your members and clients what type of service they’re interested in, their personal information, or background on their financial history, staff have useful information they need to prepare for each appointment. They can skip administrative questioning at the start of the appointment and get straight to serving the customer’s needs. They can also prepare additional upsell or cross-sell opportunities more easily. All in all, when advisors are better prepared, they conduct better quality, more efficient appointments.
4. Route Requests Appropriately and Save Everyone’s Time
Route customers to specific channels to save clients’ and advisors’ time. For simple transactions, like reordering credit cards or checks, consider offering a dedicated in-branch window or phone line with a shorter wait time (similar to an express checkout line in a grocery store). Routing helps advisors spend less time managing simple requests or admin, and more time connecting with customers and completing services.
Similarly, train your frontline staff to recommend your self-serve booking link the next time customers visit your branches, especially for high-value conversations like wealth management and mortgages. Routing high-value conversations through your appointments process—where members can choose their preferred meeting method and provide context for their request—is the best way for advisors to understand a client’s needs and come prepared with tailored solutions.
Don’t be afraid to pick where you should direct different client requests and test your hypotheses. Here are some examples of how you can direct clients to your services:
- If your clients want to…
- Open an additional account
- Ask a web support question
- Find their balances
- Know your branch hours
…direct them to self-help tools like your app, website, or call center.
- If your clients want to…
- Address fraud issues
- Apply for a loan
- Seek small business services
- Apply for a mortgage
- Request consultation
…direct them to book an appointment using your self-serve booking link.
- If your clients want to…
- Order a credit card replacement
- Make a large withdrawal
- Make complex account changes
…direct them to your fast-track line in-branch or call queue.
Thoughtfully routing requests will delight your clients and cut down on wait times for everyone else. Remember, you can always run experiments, gather feedback, and adjust where you direct requests.
5. Use Banking Analytics to Determine Staffing Needs
Meeting data offers lots of insights into how to make more appointments manageable. If your staff are struggling to handle a large number of appointments, dive into the top reasons for each appointment. (Most appointment scheduling tools can track these kinds of banking analytics.) Then, you can determine whether it’s possible to fix the issue, reroute certain appointment types to another channel, or train more staff to handle those appointment types.
You can also use appointment data to help determine staffing levels. You can see appointment volume by location or staff member to help predict when busy times will be, who’s got capacity, and where you need to deploy staff to keep things moving smoothly.
Dig Into Quality Customer and Member Interactions
With the help of appointment and queuing tools, clients will spend less time waiting in line and more time getting the answers to their questions. Plus, your staff will be unburdened by follow-ups and admin tasks—freeing them to have more high-value conversations.
And all that doesn’t include the quality improvements you’ll see from routing requests properly and continually improving your appointments. It all comes together into one scrumptious appointment process.
And if that doesn’t deserve a Michelin Star, we don’t know what does.