Without a doubt, today’s financial services consumer is more aware of the choices and ways they have to interact with their financial institution. This desirable situation certainly got a boost from necessity; when anxious customers were unable to visit bank branches earlier this year, they flocked to alternate channels significantly increasing usage across all demographics. Many financial institutions are recognizing the opportunity to accelerate cross-channel strategies that further enhance digital channels, provide more convenience and flexibility, and improve the overall customer experience.
Retail financial institutions in particular understand the longer-term significance of this moment to their future business. Facing an uncertain period of economic recovery in an extended low rate environment, institutions are seeking to accelerate digital initiatives that improve top and bottom-line performance and tap into heightened customer awareness and need. And make no mistake, these goals include improving customer experience in retail branches as well.
The resulting inertia for innovation that’s visible today will help savvy institutions achieve these goals through new sustainable approaches that are applicable across lines of business and distribution channels. Supported by the innovative application of technology, institutions have an opportunity to transform service delivery and maximize benefit capture much faster than previously anticipated.
Customer expectations are rooted in convenience
One approach that’s within reach for nearly all financial institutions is making access to your financial services professionals more convenient and more manageable.
In recent years, a number of innovative banks and credit unions have offered their customers the convenience of scheduling branch appointments online. That changed overnight when financial institutions needed to find a way to ensure customer access to financial experts while remaining compliant with protocols limiting branch access. As financial services deployments skyrocketed, so did customer usage and acceptance. Notably, users of online appointment scheduling solutions report higher customer satisfaction scores in comparison to other channels.
TimeTrade – a Cisco solutions partner and a market leader for intelligent appointment scheduling solutions – has seen a significant increase in usage with nearly 45 million appointments scheduled overall for customers and over 7 million appointments booked for financial services customers through their platform since March 2020.
“The pandemic has brought incredible focus for financial institutions that banking customers have long been seeking…namely convenience and personalization. Customers’ time is more precious than anything these days and financial institutions that provide easy scheduling solutions invite the customer to engage at a time that is convenient and in a way that the customer is comfortable with, whether that’s in a local branch, by phone or now easily through virtual integrations,” says Steve Connolly, TimeTrade’s Senior Director of Product Management.
Institutions are quickly recognizing the strategic advantages of online appointment scheduling. Even prior to recent events, appointment scheduling customers were seeking new and more efficient ways to engage with their customers, but recent events have pushed appointment scheduling as “table-stakes” functionality. In the months following the pandemic, the average monthly appointment volume for financial customers increased by 50% with some key customers such as Fifth Third Bank seeing significant increases of over 500% in customer-originated appointments and other financial institutions seeing as much as a 16% increase in customer satisfaction scores tied to appointments.
Disruption of financial services workplaces has also resulted in the expanded use of web conferencing and collaboration tools like Cisco Webex to support the significant number of employees working remotely from home.
During the height of US branch closures, long contact center hold-times did little to appease customers whose preference was to speak with an expert in their local branches. Out of necessity, institutions began testing and learning from the use of web conferencing tools for customer-facing financial advisory conversations. Today, thousands of financial professionals are interacting remotely with clients through Cisco’s voice and video collaboration tools and doing so not only from their office, but new home office locations as well.
With the recent addition of new capabilities such as closed captioning, meeting transcription, AI-powered noise removal, and blurred/virtual backgrounds, Cisco Webex is closer to its goal of making the virtual meeting experience on par with meeting face-to-face.
How necessity can lead to sustainable innovation
These two examples highlight how financial institutions can tap into the inertia born out of necessity to create better and more efficient experiences for customers and employees alike.
Institutions that are fortunate enough to be using these solutions today already understand the opportunity to create sustainable value by combining their capabilities to improve orchestration of customer journeys between the branch and online/mobile channels. By extending appointment scheduling to include the automated scheduling of web conferences and virtual resources, institutions can:
- Offer customers more choice and convenience of meeting time and location
- Ensure financial experts working remotely can securely meet with clients
- Deliver a high-touch, high-tech personalized experience outside of branch hours
- Provide customers the ability to easily reschedule branch or virtual meetings
- Created a desirable in-branch blended experience using Webex video endpoints
- Optimize branch operations to match occupation safety conditions, cost drivers, etc
- Easily include additional financial SME’s and/or customer participants
- Capture customer feedback in real-time using Webex Experience Management
- Enable customers to join meetings directly from within financial mobile applications
“The integration between TimeTrade Scheduler and Webex is a perfect partnership. Customers pick a convenient time and a unique, secure meeting link is generated specifically for that meeting and automatically inserted in all confirmations and calendar entries. It makes it so simple for customers to meet with their banks virtually and in the safety of their own home.” says Connolly.
These solutions are within the reach of any institution interested in providing more convenient access to financial experts and creating more synergy between digital and branch interactions. We invite you to look closer at the latest capabilities of Cisco Webex, TimeTrade, and our partner solutions.