As COVID infection rates continued to climb in parts of the country, it became clear for banks, credit unions, and other retail businesses, that there would be no immediate return to normal. Banking-by-appointment, once a nice-to-have option, is now a critical tool to maintain efficient, safe operations and grow business in the foreseeable future.
A recent article in The Economist, “Welcome to the Appointment Economy,” sums up the new model. For many, appointments are a survival tactic, made necessary by social-distancing requirements. But many leaders are looking at appointments as a longer-term opportunity to improve or transform their offerings.
Appointment-driven banking let customers interact at the time that works best for them and the addition of queue-management technology helps branches manage social distance restrictions. Together, the tools lead to high quality interactions and increases customer satisfaction that fuels increased lifetime value.
Appointments Provide Opportunity for Growth
As banking customers moved to more digital transactions over the last few years, banks and credit unions grappled with the challenge of how to bridge the physical to digital divide. That challenge became even more urgent now that social distancing and crowd restrictions will linger longer than expected. Appointments are one way to bridge the gap.
Shanna Anderson, Senior Manager, Retail Sales at Fifth Third agrees. Engageware sat down with her recently to discuss the bank’s customer strategy and the benefits of banking by appointment during this time of transition.
“In an increasingly digital and omnichannel world, customers want options. They want to choose what channel fits their needs,” Anderson noted.
The bank’s strategy was to close branches to walk-in traffic in March, open up limited in-branch appointment slots, and introduce phone appointments more quickly than they had previously anticipated.
The results of Fifth Third’s move to nearly universal appointment banking is impressive. Since mid-March, Fifth Third has seen a spike in customer appointments versus last year.
- 517% increase in customer-originated appointments
- 105% increase in total appointments made
- 18,000 total phone appointments (in about 8 weeks)
New Account Appointments Increased 350%
Regions Bank followed a similar path, they closed branches to walk-in traffic, added drive-thru capacity, and undertook a sweeping communication campaign directing customers on how to use online appointment capabilities and other contactless banking options.
“Our goal is to make our customers feel safe while interacting with us and have our associates feel safe while also creating a stable working environment,” said Stephen Griffin, Senior Vice President, Regions Bank.He added that beyond immediate social distancing he views appointment options as a long-term strategy. “For Regions, a key component is making sure the customer has the option to engage with us on their terms so they can accomplish their financial goals.”
Region’s banking-by-appointment approach has resonated with customers. Comparing pre-COVID levels in February to appointments in April, Regions saw a
- 72% increase in appointment volume
- 350% increase in new account appointments
According to analysis conducted by Kantar, a leading market research firm, banks can grow their share of deposits by as much as 16.5% by improving key elements of their customer experience.
To learn more about how Engageware can help usher banks and credit unions into the Appointment Economy, visit the Essential Banking Package, or schedule a time to speak with one of our scheduling experts.