A financial advisor meets with clients at a bank during a scheduled appointment time.
By Brian Wallace | August 04, 2021

Appointment Banking is on the Rise. Are You Taking Full Advantage of this Business-Boosting Opportunity?

Intelligent appointment solutions ensure your branches have the right staff scheduled at the right times to provide customers with an optimal customer experience.

Even as buildings open back up, banking customers are turning to digital and mobile banking options to complete transactions, a trend that has gained considerable momentum during the COVID-19 pandemic. The convenience of these options, while great for banks looking to keep customers happy, poses a dilemma: customer expectations for the in-branch experience are higher than ever before.

While branch traffic isn’t expected to shift back toward pre-pandemic levels, customers who do choose to bank in person now expect a frictionless experience. They don’t want to have to wait in long lines for a branch employee with the right skillset to assist them. They expect the seamlessness of mobile banking in the branch as well. This places pressure on branch employees to provide immediate, flawless customer service which, of course, is incredibly difficult to achieve.

With branches pressured to run on leaner staffing models, the margin of error for scheduling branch employees is smaller than ever before. Unexpected fluctuations in branch traffic can prove to be detrimental for customers who become frustrated by a lackluster experience, as well as employees who are overburdened and must contend with unhappy customers. And as this negative experience affects how often customers come to branches, decreasing routine transactions and other in-branch activities, it also depresses employee morale, leading to increased turnover and the increased training and recruitment costs that come with it.

Managing these new challenges comes down to staffing your branches in a smarter and more nimble fashion. One way to do that is by implementing intelligent appointment scheduling.

By leveraging a customer-facing appointment booking application to help anticipate appointment volume, you will be able to:

1.      Create More Effective Branch Forecasts and Schedules

One of the greatest benefits to an intelligent scheduling solution is how it integrates appointment data into your branch forecasts and schedules. This ensures branches are staffed properly for appointments, matching employees with the right qualifications and skillsets to the types of appointments scheduled for each day. These solutions can also help account for prep time and post-meeting wrap up – moments when staff might technically not be in an appointment but are still unavailable – so you can ensure proper spacing between appointments. This is important, as making a customer wait even a few minutes beyond their scheduled appointment time can leave a bad impression. Their time is precious, and their patience may wear thin since they have their own busy schedules to manage. Plus, it’s difficult for your staff to catch up and reset the clock once appointments start running behind. If the second morning appointment starts even five minutes late, that can lead to a 10-minute delay for the next customer.

The good news is the reporting mechanism on intelligent appointment booking solutions can also make it simple to identify trends in your appointments, giving you the ability to adjust future forecasts and scheduling accordingly. These reports provide key insights into:

  • the volume of walk-in appointments or other peak appointment times.
  • customer experience scores for different types of meetings.
  • appointment cancellations and no-shows.

All this information helps to evaluate the productivity and efficiency of your meetings, giving you the ability to shift labor schedules based on the most up-to-date and relevant metrics – and avoid future back logs and/or appointment overruns.

2. Streamline Appointment Booking and Scheduling Processes

Simplifying the process of scheduling and planning for appointments is key to ensuring both customers and employees are adequately prepared for visits. It is also an impactful measure when trying to improve both customer and employee satisfaction. Intelligent appointment booking solutions enable customers to book in-person appointments from your website or mobile app via a streamlined, branded portal. Customers can easily select their appointments by searching across service types, locations, and other key variables.

After customers book their appointments, branch managers can then quickly view all scheduled meetings and assign or reassign appointments to the appropriate team member. At the same time, employees can retain the flexibility to rotate schedules and even branch locations to better suit their work preferences and personal needs.

Once appointments are confirmed and schedules are set, branch employees can view their daily schedules and associated meeting details on a simple, intuitive interface using either their mobile devices or desktop computers to stay organized. They can also write their own notes within the system and view them as they prepare for specific meetings. By simplifying the appointment booking process and the way employees prepare for appointments, customers are guaranteed a more seamless and positive experience. Just as importantly, employees feel more in control over the experience they’re delivering – and having – across the branch network. This helps to boost job satisfaction and overall workforce retention, which is important given the tight labor market and current staffing constraints most banks are facing.

3. Deliver Outstanding In-Branch Customer Experiences

At the end of the day, the goal at every branch is to provide customers with experiences that keep them coming back. With intelligent appointment booking solutions, you can eliminate long waits, crowded lobbies, and rushed or inadequate service.

These solutions allow you to check customers in when they arrive and out when they leave, providing more visibility into the status of your appointments and controlling traffic at your branches. With real-time visibility into both scheduled and walk-in queues, you can also easily accommodate walk-ins and capture all relevant customer information before matching them with the right branch employee. And with the ability to align appointment volumes with labor scheduling, you ensure that customers are always sitting down with the employee most knowledgeable and skilled in the type of transactions they are looking to complete during the appointment.

The Takeaway

Customers today have more expectations from their bank branches than they did even two years ago. They expect a frictionless experience, where they move effortlessly from digital channels to your brick-and-mortar locations. With an intelligent appointment booking solution, you can ensure your customers are connected with the right staff – and your staff to the right information – every step of the way.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit our website or contact our team. We’ll be happy to discuss the unique challenges that your branches are facing and how intelligent appointment booking solutions can help your branches take full advantage of the boom in appointment banking. 

Brian Wallace
Brian Wallace

Brian Wallace serves as the General Manager of Banking at Reflexis, which was acquired by Zebra in 2020. He has over 20 years of experience developing and executing operational strategy and technology solutions across both retail and banking. 

Brian founded the Branch Workforce Planning team at JPMorgan Chase, transforming its capabilities to deliver improved scheduling practices, regulatory compliance, wait times and customer satisfaction. While at The Home Depot, Brian was responsible for over $250MM of cost savings through driving efficiencies across store operations, supply chain, and merchandising.

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