In the financial services industry, including retail banking, exceptional service is crucial for creating incredible experiences, establishing strategic relationships, and increasing loyalty and conversion.
Although branch traffic has decreased due to online banking, branches are increasingly valuable assets for upsell and cross-sell opportunities, and still serve as places to cement customer trust. In the U.S., 68% of people would visit branches more often if they could receive more access to trained staff with higher knowledge bases, according to JRNI’s Modern Banking Research.
Unfortunately, physical branch locations have been burdened with negative undertones that they must overcome. Consumers often associate branches with uncertain wait times, meetings with untrained staff, or as places to return to with the right documentation to complete transactions.
How can banks provide incredible in-branch experiences, engage deeper with their customers, and increase their conversions? They must create omnichannel experiences that provide easy ways for customers to traverse banking services and professionals from wherever they are. Therefore, they can drive more traffic in-branch and foster greater loyalty.
The Value of Appointments
Enabling customers to arrange pre-scheduled appointments is critical for initiating compelling in-branch experiences. Customers can select the most favorable times for their meetings, and banks can provide them with multiple options when scheduling appointments, whether in-person or videoconference. As a result, banks put the convenience of scheduling directly into the hands of their customers.
Most important, appointments empower both customers and staff to feel prepared to discuss finances when they meet face-to-face. When staff knows which customers they’re meeting with, they can have the appropriate paperwork ready prior to the appointments. This increases productivity for staff because they can have personalized conversations with customers and won’t waste their time while they retrieve the necessary information for meetings.
With high-value transactions, such as mortgages, people want to speak with experts to ensure accuracy. Consumers can certainly research mortgage rates and options online, but because the application process is complex, meeting with staff to complete it makes for an overall easier experience. After all, it’s much more efficient to ask staff questions when sitting with them versus sending online inquiries or making phone calls that might take time to respond.
The Need for Events
Hosting exclusive in-branch events is another opportunity for banks to enhance customer experiences, cultivate brand advocacy, and forge communities. In fact, research shows that 82% of U.S. consumers are interested in attending events at banks.
While customers may still use online banking to conduct routine tasks, banks must use in-branch events, such as investment courses or mortgage financing seminars, to take their customer engagements one step further. Events provide opportunities for customers to meet in-branch staff, so they can develop stronger relationships. They can each get to know one another and build trust with each other – something that can’t be achieved purely online.
When customers feel loyal, banks can solicit feedback from them about products, services, or events, allowing customers to share valuable insights and perspectives that banks can use for improvement. This two-way dialogue only ignites after true relationships have been formed, and events can produce this outcome.
The Influence of Invitational Offers
While in-person offers might not entice every customer to visit branches, if banks introduce “invite-only offers” the right way – where they’re exclusive, tailored, and offer real value – they can reach specific consumers to dive them in-branch.
Whether offering customers something different, such as special insights from banking specialists on how to save for retirement, or how to pay off student loans, banks can have beneficial conversations with customers that can yield loyalty. Banks can create positive experiences that make their customers feel special by providing them with items that they can only receive in-branch and that are relevant to their specific needs.
It’s critical for the banking industry to deliver exceptional customer experiences – seeded in face-to-face interactions – that increase loyalty and drive conversions. Whether it’s first-time mortgage applicants or life-long customers planning their retirements, banks must see the value in providing engaging in-branch experiences that will set them apart from their competition.
John Federman is CEO of JRNI, the leading customer engagement platform for omnichannel conversion for the financial services industry.
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