Featuring the voices of:

Jared Jones

Director of Sales, DBSI

James White

James White

Industry Principal for Banking and Credit Unions, Total Expert

Chad Rogers

EVP and COO of Connexus CU

Olga Zakharenkava

VP of Product Management, Doxim

Why The Best Banking Experiences Are Simple

These past two years, banks and credit unions have been inundated with new technology. Banking tech has become a $500 billion industry, and a startling number of vendors advertise some sort of advanced “AI.” But do your customers and members need you to be deploying more technology and AI to keep them engaged?

What if the way to your clients’ hearts was a lot simpler? What if what they needed was for financial institutions to do a really good job at the simple but satisfying banking basics, like opening an account or talking to a human? We studied recent banking customer experience (CX) reports from Forrester, Gartner, J.D. Power, BAI, and West Monroe to find out. The conclusion: Simple is not only satisfying for clients, but it’s also affordable for you.

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In this section, we share four ways you can upgrade your in-branch experience.


Streamlining the In-Branch Experience

Imagine you arrive at a beachfront hotel and there’s nobody at the desk to help you. You wait, and wait, and wait. That hotel group’s big investments in advanced AI customer experience tools are all forfeited in that one poor interaction. But what if that hotel had instead invested in technology to greet you? What if a check-in iPad took your name and printed your room key?

That’s the difference between investing in your back office versus your branches. Operations executives tend to think about the big picture, future things—but customers and members tend to judge the experience based on the little things, like how long they waited and whether the greeter’s smile felt genuine. You can apply software to those branch interactions and make a big impact on your overall experience.

1. Redesign Parts of Your Branches to Feel More Welcoming

Banks and credit unions that get high marks in Forrester’s research on CX tend to have branches that feel welcoming. And that same report encourages banks and credit unions to start their CX thinking not with the website but with the welcome mat.

Bright signage and a genuine greeting can go a long way. But so does crafting what’s called a “zero wait” environment where clients can sign in on their own via tablet kiosks. This adds them to a central queue and tells them how long the wait is, and also presents options, such as booking a future appointment.

If a visitor’s request is simple, perhaps the kiosk can direct them to the app on their phone, or initiate an instant video call with an associate at another branch.

A redesign can also include physical changes like:

  • Adding lighting
  • Shifting the floor transitions
  • Installing colored carpeting to guide visitors
  • Removing stanchions
  • Removing bulletproof glass
  • Removing the counter
  • Adding “flex desks” and call booths

According to experts, your redesign will incorporate not just one change, but many, and you’ll need to know what you’re hoping to achieve.

“A great experience is not just one thing,” says Jared Jones, Director of Sales at DBSI, a firm that designs branch experiences. “It’s not just having an open concept. It’s not just investing in cash automation. It’s not just digital signage. It’s thinking about how a combination of those things can convey the feeling of being welcoming and guide customers where they need to go.”

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Lone Star Credit Union Replaces Lines with Universal Associates

Lone Star’s team wanted to let members handle more transactions on their own, to free up associates to be better advisors. This led them to tear down their counter and eliminate the concept of waiting in line. Now, if you visit a branch, you’ll see that members know to use self-service stations or, if they need more help, walk over to a series of welcoming “flex offices” where roaming associates take meetings.

2. Let Clients Skip the Wait (With Appointments)

Customers and members can instantly schedule appointments for haircuts, workouts, and doctor visits—so why not with their bank? Appointments save time, allow clients to plan ahead, and be seen right away when they arrive. And appointment reminder emails help them come prepared with the right documents or ID.


On the backend, appointments create a great experience for staff, which improves the customer experience even further. Staff come prepared to each meeting and don’t need to start by asking for as much background information. This often means appointments are faster and things are less rushed. Appointment booking also generates useful data about capacity and staffing, so branches aren’t understaffed—which helps keeps lines shorter, too.

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Rogue CU Reduces Lineups While Nearly Doubling Appointments

Before implementing friendlier technology to let members schedule appointments, Rogue CU had members walking out of its branches every day because of the wait. After the switch, the wait times dropped, staff received lots of positive feedback, and it saved many people from having to drive in—30% of people thereafter choose to take their appointment over the phone.

3. Create a Service Fast Lane

For simple transactions, like reordering credit cards or checks, consider offering a dedicated in-branch window or phone line with next to no wait (similar to an express checkout line in a grocery store). They key to making this flow in-branch is to use a queuing system that allows clients to identify which kind of service they need before entering a line. (A helpful greeter can also direct them in lieu of technology.)

Fast lanes can help improve the customer or member experience  because clients don’t always want to do everything online—but also don’t want to wait a long time for a simple, straightforward fix or questions. Sometimes they need a human to talk them through it. A fast lane will delight those with simple requests and cut down on wait times for everyone else in line.

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Yolo FCU Offers a Teller Express Lane

The team at Yolo FCU experimented with a dedicated quick appointment option for transactional services that was so popular, they made it permanent. Members with simple requests can book an appointment ahead of time or via a kiosk in the branch. It directs them to a dedicated teller for withdrawals, deposits, wires, savings bonds, account and card maintenance, and more. The express lane has thrilled clients who want quick human help, and some members have replied, “I’ll never wait in line again!”

4. Offer Curbside and Home Delivery Banking

If it involves cash, it has to happen in person. But does that mean members have to come to you? What if you came to them?

One way to make cash services more accessible is curbside banking. Popularized during the pandemic, institutions either post a QR code on their front door or actually have associates go out to meet people at their car. In some cases, it’s more convenient than a drive-through.

Another approach is mobile banking branch trucks. The team can drive the mobile branch to events and provide ATM services and more onsite. It’s also a great way to advertise and sign new customers.

Yet another approach is actual at-home pickups and deliveries. Some banks are using couriers to allow customers and members to deposit or withdraw cash from their front door. (For safety, couriers don’t know what they’re carrying, and there are strict limits on how much cash they can handle.)

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UFCU Uses Curbside Banking to Reach Members Conveniently

University Federal Credit Union created a curbside service during the pandemic. Members would drive up and scan a QR code with their phone from a sign in their parking space. This would direct them to a service form where they could request their need or transaction before. Then, a staff member would come out to complete it.

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In this section, we explore four ways to unite online and offline for a smoother experience.


Uniting Online and Offline Interactions

To customers, the “online versus offline” distinction doesn’t really matter, studies find. Great banking experiences unite the two, and clients want the freedom to toggle back and forth. Case in point, 25% of customers identify as “phygital”—meaning they want both in-person and online experiences for different things.

What’s important though is that those interactions feel cohesive. Customers and members want anything they do in the app to reflect instantly on the website, and for staff to know about those online activities when they visit in person.

1. Give Clients Their Choice of Communication Options

Customer preferences are complicated, and it’s never as simple as saying, “There are mobile customers and there are in-branch customers.” Thirty-nine percent prefer talking to a person, 28% prefer digital tools, and 33% want to use both equally—and those preferences shift daily

By providing many communication options, from walk-in services to video banking, you let everyone pick their path. And the more you meld physical and digital offerings, the more clients seem to like them. For example, people love signing into a branch kiosk and being given the option to get SMS alerts, or being shown how to handle their own request within the app.

Where you can, knock down the silos between “physical” and “digital” and experiment with new communication options to see which stick.

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Addition Financial Increased its New Member Connect Rate 500%

Addition Financial gets lots of new members through partnerships with local dealerships, but as a result, doesn’t always get to make a face-to-face connection. It was common for only 5% of new members to respond to an email offer to book a call. So, Addition Financial tried inserting a “book an appointment” button in that email, which let members see the advisor’s calendar and choose a time instantly. By making booking easier, Addition’s connect rate rose to 25%.

2. Manage One Central Queue for Each Channel

No matter where they’re interacting, customers and members see your institution as one united entity. If a member tells your staff something important via chat, then initiates a new chat and the new staff member doesn’t know about the prior conversation, that feels inconsistent. It creates a poor experience. And it’s the same when that member switches channels by calling in or scheduling a video appointment.

You want to ensure that conversations within each channel exist in one queue, so people can reach whoever last helped them, and new agents know their history. You also want to capture the context of every interaction across channels in one central spot, so it’s not lost when they reach back out. Clients expect consistency and want to be known wherever they show up. The more you can make that a reality in your back-office systems, the better the customer experience.

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Rogue CU’s Queuing Earned Them an 84.5 Net Promoter Score

Rogue CU handles tens of thousands of appointments every year but until they begin using queuing and appointment software, they didn’t have a firm grasp on how to triage them and it caused missed expectations and “scheduling stress.” After Rogue CU launched a new experience around one universal queue, in-branch and over the phone, their Net Promoter Score (NPS) rose to 84.5.

3. Keep Complete Customer Profiles for Personalization

Customers and members increasingly expect your institution to use their account history to personalize their service, just like e-commerce retailers.

Complete profiles help staff to be more alert and engaged to a client’s needs. If an associate reaches out to a someone who had previously mentioned they’re house hunting, and doesn’t reference that, the institution appears impersonal. Whereas if an associate knows a member’s child is 17, they can reach out about college loans and appear unusually helpful.

“On average, it can be six to seven times more expensive for financial institutions to acquire a new relationship than it is to keep a current one. Especially as the U.S. economy experiences inflation and rising interest rates,” says James White, Industry Principal for Banking and Credit Unions at Total Expert. “Loan officers need tools at their fingertips to uncover and nurture new leads. In one case, we saw a loan team with complete customer profiles suddenly uncover 1,200 opportunities to reach out that would have otherwise been missed.”

Using data about products, services, appointments, or branch visits can help your frontline staff, advisory teams, and marketing teams offer a more personalized touch.

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Mortgage Investors Group Earns an Email Open Rate of 76%

With unified customer information, the Mortgage Investors Group team was able to craft an automated email campaign that delighted new customers. The email welcomed them based on the type of loan they received and how that process went. Seventy-six percent of recipients opened that email and more than 100 responded with genuine thanks.

4. Save Customers Time with Biometric Authentication

Save everyone a step and increase security with stronger identity recognition. Biometrics such as voice recognition, fingerprinting, and eye-scanning can save people from having to remember their password or secret questions, while also decreasing fraud.

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Connexus CU Improves Call Center Interactions with Biometrics

Before using a biometric identification solution in its call center, Connexus CU’s agents were spending the first 90 seconds of each call authenticating the caller’s identity. With biometrics, they reduced that to 12.5 seconds among members that opted in. “That savings, multiplied by all those calls, that’s one full-time employee worth of work every day,” says Chad Rogers, EVP and COO of Connexus CU, “And the experience now feels much friendlier. It’s now, ‘We know who you are, let’s get on with what you need.’”

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In this section, we share five services that can win over more clients.


Offering The Right Mix of Flexible Services

The average banking and credit union client has an average of 5.3 accounts across multiple providers. Why? One institution rarely provides everything they need, and so they assemble the right mix of services from multiple companies. And increasingly, those providers are non-financial institutions like Venmo, Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook, and PayPal.

While every institution wants more wallet share, customers and members tend not to see the benefit. But you can win them over with the right mix of services.

1. Focus on Quality, Self-Serve Customer Service

It should be no surprise that the number one factor for banking loyalty in a survey of 1,700 consumers was customer service. It’s more important than low fees, good security, or a slick mobile app.

What does high-quality support look like? It’s quick and easy access to information, people, and resolutions. It’s quickly being routed to the right place, having the flexibility to choose between calling, chatting, or walking in, and being able to self-serve (outside of the 9-5).

High-quality service is also a key competitive advantage. If a member has accounts with you and another institution, and that other institution lets them down, they’ve got a compelling reason to bring those accounts to you.

When you’re the bank or credit with the best support, 63% say they’re unlikely to consider switching away from you. And 78% say they’ll go back to you again for similar services, finds a J.D. Power study.

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U.S. Bank Wins J.D. Power’s Overall Customer Satisfaction Study

U.S. bank was a top scorer in J.D. Power’s most recent banking customer experience study. It received high marks for friendly associates who were easy to reach on the phone and innovation in launching new support channels. Perhaps related, it’s grown revenues 18% this year so far.

2. Give Multiple Ways to Open a New Account

The fourth most important customer experience driver in one report we studied was the ability to open an account without talking to a person. Today, tech solutions make it easy to scan someone’s driver’s license from their smartphone, and true self-service is within reach for every institution. It’s also a great way to allow new customers and members to find you and start the relationship on their terms.

If revamping your current application process or investing in new online account opening systems isn’t possible at the moment, there are still ways to improve the experience for potential customers and members. Support users by making clear calls to action for live chat or contact center support around the application interface, in case they get stuck. Also consider offering appointments from the application window so folks can find a time to ask questions and complete the sign-up process.

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Chase Allows Consumers to Apply Entirely Online

With Chase, people can open a new checking or savings account entirely on their own. And once they become customers, they can add new accounts with a few clicks from the “Account Services” tab.

3. Offer Peer-to-Peer Payments

Today 1 in 3 Americans use a peer-to-peer payment app such as Square, Venmo, and Zelle. There are 21 such apps with significant market share, and the sector has grown 13% since the pandemic.

They’ve taught clients to expect to move their money about, in small amounts without a fee, and they make legacy technologies like ACH and wire systems feel out of step with the times. So, what’s your institution’s peer-to-peer strategy? Whether you build something yourself as Goldenwest has done, or partner with a major player in the space, like Zelle, this is a path to a better experience and an additional reason to bank with you.

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Arvest Bank Adopts Zelle for Peer-to-Peer Payments

Arvest Bank chose to join hundreds of major banks and credit unions in offering peer-to-peer payments through the Zelle app. The advantage to using an app like Zelle, whose major stakeholders are the largest banks, is convenience and speed. Arvest Bank didn’t have to build its own technology, and 17 million consumers already know how to use it.

4. Offer Video Banking

Video appointments rose sharply during the pandemic—and still remain popular. In fact, 46% percent of customers said they’d continue to talk to advisors over video when branches reopened, and 36% percent say video is their preferred medium moving forward.

Part of the draw? Video recreates much of the ease and relationship-building benefits of meeting in person—but without the travel, line ups, waiting, etc. Plus staff can use tools like co-browsing to jointly navigate the website or paperwork and complete transaction within a call using one application. (It’s about as seamless as in-person these days.)

Another bonus? Video banking can help institutions have staff service a broader geographic region without needing to travel to specific branches—which is convenient for both the client and the advisor.

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Teachers FCU Launches Video-Powered Virtual Branches

The team at Teachers FCU has found that video creates a far stronger connection than phone calls alone. According to Austin Hopkins, AVP of Premier and Relationship Sales, “When a potential member joined a video call and said, ‘I thought I scheduled this with another company,’ the call nevertheless lasted 30 minutes and she ended up taking out an auto loan. I don’t believe that would have happened had they not been able to see each other face to face.” Teachers FCU has now used the power of video connections to launch entirely virtual branches.

5. Efficient Advisory Services

Customers and members want help building wealth, and they expect their primary financial institution to help do it. Yet this is the area where banks and credit unions score the lowest on CX.

The biggest challenge? Adoption and awareness. When polled, consumers tend not to know which types of advisories their institution offers, or how to take advantage of them. But when a bank or credit union does a good job of marketing these services, and makes it easy to obtain these appointments, it can have a profound impact on the customer or member experience.

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Kemba FCU Increases Membership 6% and Loans 13%

Kemba FCU launched an appointment software to make booking meetings with an advisor easier. Over the course of one year, it increased its membership 6% and loans 13%. ”And that’s not just increased production,” says Candy Shearer, Senior Manager of Member Experience. “That’s all directly attributable to the appointment experience.”

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In this section, we share three ways you can clarify your communications.


Communicating How You Help Clearly

According to several studies, clear communication is the top predictor of retention. When consumers report that their financial institution is clear, they’re more likely to stay and open more accounts. And retention tends to be much cheaper than acquisition—especially when the economy is in flux.

Clear communication is of course much more than having nicely designed mailings (although that’s certainly part of it). It’s about testing and improving everything from staff scripts to in-app “microcopy” to ensure customers and members know what’s offered, aren’t surprised by limitations or fees, and know where to find help. It’s also about sending timely mailings to show you know what they’re going through and are communicating ways you can help.

1. Diagram and Simplify Your Customer Journeys

Most communication teams know the pain of repeatedly communicating a rate or policy change for months only to have members say they were blindsided. People only tend to see a fraction of what you send, and remember even less.

To make your messages clearer, it can help your team to focus not on the volume of communications, but on understanding how messages are received. Diagram your customer journey, divide your audience into segments, and work hard to know what they are (and are not) interested in.

Key areas to clarify your communication:

  • Reduce the text in your emails and hire a designer
  • Simplify your in-app copy and calls to action
  • Redesign your website to be more accessible
  • Redesign your statements to guide people’s eyes and offer more value
  • Train staff on how to best promote new products and services in person

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(Pictured Above: Customer Journey Diagram)

“Good communication depends on demographics and preferences,” says Olga Zakharenkava, VP of Product Management at the customer communication management company Doxim. “Should yours be paper, digital, or a hybrid or an ‘eco-conscious’ version of the paper copy? That all depends on understanding who your customers are and how their preferences evolve. Take the time of year, for example. Someone who prefers HTML statements may want PDF just during their tax season. You have to understand and respect those nuances, always be gathering feedback, and implement technology that is ready to support your customers on every channel and through any communication format.”

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A Credit Union Improves Its Experience While Reducing Costs

A Credit Union with five branches and 13,000 members redesigned its statements and launched a campaign to drive customers toward e-statements, touting their environmental benefits. They eventually switched all customers to e-statements by default, with the option to opt out—and only 6% switched back. The move won them customer loyalty and also reduced mailing costs 70%.

2. Use Software to Recommend the Next Best Action

Fewer than half of banks (48%) are confident they can “execute effectively” when it comes to recommending new products on relevant channels, says the research firm Gartner.

But those that can unlock significant opportunities to surprise and delight customers. Much like the recommendation bar on ecommerce sites, a “next best action” tool can tell staff what else customers and members want, and even recommend additional products within their account.

While not trivial to develop or install, such a system can lead customers down a journey to greater engagement. By 2026, Gartner estimates that 40% of banks will have automated significant portions of their customer journey in this fashion.

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TD Bank Saves Clients Clicks With Personalized Recommendations

In 2022, TD Bank won an award for its technology and “creative uses of data” to nudge customers to take additional actions within its app and website. Those recommendations are based on prior transaction history, which saves them from having to navigate the app or site, and provides insights into upcoming transactions. Fewer than 1% of customers have elected to turn these insights off.

3. Offer Financial Literacy Tools

A recent survey found that 51% of consumers want more advice on managing money from their bank or credit union. Sixty-six percent want proactive, personal advice that addresses  financial stresses they’re feeling. Yet 63% haven’t received any such communication from their financial institution—including how to deal with the looming recession.

Financial education is more important than ever. One-fifth of people are saving less than they were a year ago and 3 in 10 are “just getting by” financially, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Financial literacy is both helpful and shows customers and members that you’re investing in them. It can also take many forms, from in-person sessions to online training, articles, and podcasts.

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Opportunities Credit Union Offers Financial Counseling, Mentoring, and Workshops

The team at Opportunities Credit Union doesn’t stop when someone’s denied a loan—they provide financial counseling and education through a program called Money$ense. Members can book an appointment with a counselor, attend a workshop, and figure out what they need to do to improve their credit.

Great Banking Customer Experiences Tend to Be Client-Led

Today more than ever, clients want control and simplicity. Yes, they want you to reach out with recommendations, but they expect the freedom and flexibility to respond how they like, on whatever channel they choose. Some prefer appointments, some prefer video, and some prefer in person—and those preferences can change daily.

The best approach is to put them in the driver’s seat and give them lots of options. And while you could focus on cutting-edge “advanced AI” technology, current research shows you’re better off investing in the simple things that clients really appreciate—like finding your branches welcoming, or making it easy to talk to the right person on the first try. If you invest there, your customers and members will be less likely to stray.

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