If you’re not looking into appointments as a way to increase revenue, build stronger customer relationships, and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty, then it’s time to embrace the new normal! Enterprise appointment scheduling is the here, the now, and the future. And you better believe it should be a part of your 2021 strategy!
During COVID-19, many organizations turned to appointment scheduling (both remote and in-person) as a means for social distancing and as a way to provide human-to-human experiences. Additionally, appointments put control into the customers’ hands in the midst of an uncontrollable situation. And while it is uncertain how the pandemic will continue to transform our world in 2021, one thing is certain: appointments will continue to provide value for your customers, your staff, and your bottom line.
Appointment scheduling is growing: The new behavioral norm
The global online appointment scheduling market is growing, with an expected value of $360 million by the end of 2023. With many people turning to appointments as a way to safely shop and bank, the convenience and personalization of each interaction is something customers want and need. Here are some customer behavior stats that reiterate the importance of providing personalized, one-to-one appointments as a part of your 2021 strategy:
63% of consumers would prefer to pre-book an appointment
According to the “Rewriting the rules of retail engagement” consumer insights report, 63% of consumers say that given the choice, they would prefer to pre-book an appointment rather than wait in line for entry. Additionally, 57% of consumers say they are more likely to book an appointment than they were prior to the pandemic.
If this tells us anything, it’s that customers are going to continue to look for options to pre-book appointments, and will even come to expect it. The benefit now? Giving customers additional options to safely engage with your business. The benefit later? Meeting and exceeding the new expectations of your customers - allowing them to do business with you on their terms.
64% of customers will invest more in a service after a personalized interaction
Appointments allow organizations to establish valuable one-to-one time with customers - meaning you have the opportunity to get to know your customers on a deeper level. As you build rapport with them, you also come to know their needs - not only their needs now, but their needs for the future. This is why appointments provide great upsell opportunities! For example, a savings account appointment could turn into a conversation about purchasing a home, and you are able to schedule a follow-up appointment to discuss mortgages. Or a wedding dress appointment leads to a conversation about how your customer is also looking for a bridal shower outfit and interested in reviewing bridesmaid dress options. There are many ways to engage your customers in this one-on-one time to increase the customer lifetime value.
47% of consumers confirm that the human-touch aspect is an important part of their experience
Humanization is the key to building strong, meaningful relationships with your customers. This stat says a lot, especially given the environment we’ve been living in during the pandemic. Whether on- or offline, giving customers a more personalized appointment experience will become increasingly important as the lines between digital and in-person experiences become increasingly blurred. Appointments can give customers the human connection they are craving.
34% of consumers said that offering pre-booked appointments means retailers are more likely taking the safety of customers and staff more seriously
And on a final note, more than one-third of consumers said that, in their opinion, retailers that offer pre-booked appointments rather than a walk-in system are more likely to be proactively managing shopper traffic and are taking the safety of staff and customers more seriously. This isn’t only true in retail though - customers are also depending on their banks to provide safer lobbies by effectively managing foot traffic. Safety will continue to be a huge concern for consumers in 2021, and offering appointments is a way to provide peace of mind.
What do these stats tell us? That right now, consumers want to feel and be safe. And in the future, booking one-to-one, personalized appointments is something your customers will come to expect.
Meeting customer expectations
While appointments are something you should include as a part of your growth strategy, you shouldn’t offer appointments just to tick a box. There are many considerations for financial institutions and retailers before getting started with an appointment scheduling solution. An appointment software solution should meet your use case needs, and be a true enterprise appointment scheduling solution to manage your appointments at scale. There are - quite literally - hundreds of things to consider, but some of the main features you need to consider are the features your customers have come to expect during the growth of booking online appointments, which they have become accustomed to at many of their favorite places.
While COVID-19 has certainly shifted consumer behavior, and many of your customers will want to meet with you remotely, in-person appointments remain crucial as well. Right now, remote appointments give your customers the benefit of meeting with your staff without the health risks. In the future, remote appointments will continue to give customers a quick, easy, and convenient way to have personalized experiences on their terms - when and where they are available. In-person appointments, on the other hand, continue to serve as a great touch point for people wanting a face-to-face experience. In fact, 73% of consumers prefer having in-person interactions from experts when receiving financial advice.
Omnichannel experiences continue to push the bar in terms of expectations: some customers want their experience to be a hybrid of online and in-person. Some customers may sign up for a new bank account online, but still want to meet in person to ask questions and ensure they signed up for the best account to meet their needs. And some shoppers may prefer buying home goods online, but prefer shopping for clothes in-person. The key here is that with any omnichannel experience, the brand and the flow are seamless and continuous between channels.
All customers expect to be able to access your appointment booking solution, so ensuring your appointment scheduling process is accessible to all is vital! Providing an inclusive appointment booking service is not only the right thing to do to ensure all customers can easily book appointments with you, it’s also important as guidelines expand and accessibility-related lawsuits increase.
Customers want to be able to schedule, cancel, and reschedule appointments on their terms. Your solution should offer a way for customers to control their own scheduling process. Giving your customers the ability to quickly and easily reschedule will not only help improve the customer experience, but can help reduce no-shows. You should also ensure that customers get automated confirmation of scheduled or cancelled appointments. This helps keep a clear path of communication between you and the customer, and will be crucial in minimizing no-shows!
Aside from the availability of and features your customers will come to expect from appointments, they will also expect your staff to be prepared for both remote and in-person appointment options. Appointment scheduling gives you the opportunity to raise the bar on customer service, and provide a true personalized experience - one that they will remember and want to come back for! In fact, 86% of customers say they will pay more for a great customer experience.
In preparation for appointments, your staff should understand your customers’ needs as deeply as the data allows them to. Staff should review notes and previous conversations with customers to ensure efficiency, to provide great service, and to exceed customer expectations. As an additional benefit, appointments also give customers time to prepare. That way, by the time customers meet with your staff, they have a better understanding of the products or services they want and know what questions to ask.
Creating memorable experiences
Finally, appointments in 2021 means giving your customers unique, memorable experiences. After all, loyalty comes down to customer satisfaction - so what are you doing to make your in-person experiences extraordinary? What are you doing to strengthen your customer relationships? As we’ve noted before, the experience economy is here - and it’s time to make your appointments count!
So how can you make one-to-one appointments more meaningful for your customers? By following the four key pillars of an experiential relationship management (XRM) strategy: providing unique experiences, offering human-to-human connections, building personalized relationships, and managing experiences at scale. Don’t know where to get started? Don’t worry, we got you covered! Here are some resources to help you get started:
- What is experiential relationship management (XRM)? (blog)
- How to use personalization in retail (blog)
- How to improve bank branch performance (blog)
And if you want to learn more about how to deliver personalized experiences at scale and how your teams can benefit from appointment scheduling solutions, then check out our eBook “The ROI of appointments”: