There's no doubt that online and mobile banking have done a lot to improve the customer experience for retail banks. But there's more to providing optimal customer service than a mobile application and a website. For all of the focus on digital channels, the physical branch location is still a major asset for any bank. For example:
62% of consumers prefer to use banks or credit unions that have a physical presence according to goMoxie.
Deloitte's most recent global digital banking consumer survey found that in most countries, a majority of people prefer opening major accounts (mortgages, wealth management) or applying for new financial products in a branch , rather than online.
In 2020, 60% - 70% of Chase's new accounts were opened in branch with similar trends for B of A.
This means that even in an age where the overall number of physical bank branches is declining, a bank’s physical locations are still a vital
Even if customer acquisition and day-to-day transactions are increasingly taking place through digital channels, physical branches are key for retention, upsell, and cross-sell. Investments in digital channels, therefore, cannot be mutually exclusive with efforts to improve customer service in bank branches.
One of the areas of in-branch service that's ripe for innovation is queue management. Consumers have grown accustomed to seamless service in most areas of their lives, and they are certainly looking for it in their banks. Few, if any, customers would say they want to deal with long wait times and disjointed service.
Why are queues such an issue for retail banks?
McKinsey revealed several market realities that retail banking leaders have to contend with when it comes to their customer service models. In fact, as many financial products become commoditized, customer service is increasingly a differentiator for retail banks.
Slow or disorganized queues and lobbies can be extremely detrimental to customers' perceptions of a branch's service. Even during peak hours, customers will expect prompt service that solves their problems. Banks that fail to consider good queue management or crowd management practices will inevitably frustrate customers.
Queues can make or break the customer experience
Deloitte’s other findings validate the point made in the McKinsey study, showing that customers’ satisfaction with the in-branch experience has the greatest impact on their overall satisfaction with their banks. The authors of the study believe this is because the most common reasons people go to their bank’s branches - problem resolution and account opening - are often complex, urgent, and require more human touch than a routine transaction.
Adding to the customer’s stress and urgency levels are the times in which people
It doesn’t matter if wait times in one branch are not noticeably different from any other branch at any other bank, customers who perceive their time is being wasted will develop a negative impression of their bank.
As Dr. Richard Larson, an expert on queuing theory and psychology at MIT, found, consumers consistently overestimate the time they spend waiting in queues by about 36%.
That’s why queue management is more than just optimizing queues for speed. Most people
Poorly managed queues impact bank staff and managers
Poorly managed queues aren’t just a customer problem. Bank staff and management
- Managers have a lack of insight into when peak and lull times are at the individual branch level, leading to inappropriate levels of staffing.
- Managers can’t pinpoint issues in the customer service experience, such as one employee who is slowing the queue
due toinadequate training, or customers who have a certain problem that consistently takes longer to solve and requires better processes to handle.
- Employees cannot prepare for the customers who are coming up in the queue, many of whom will have unique needs. This forces the staff member to ask multiple discovery questions just to understand what action needs to
- Employees have to not only solve a customer’s problem, but potentially have to deal with a frustrated person who expects fast service.
Mismanaged queues lead to frustrated customers, stressed out employees, and managers
What happens when queues
are done right?
The consequences of chaotic queues are
Better customer experience
This almost goes without saying - of course customers will find their experience in a branch much more enjoyable if they don't find waiting in line to be irritating. However, given what has been revealed by in-depth studies about the role of the brick-and-mortar branch in an omnichannel banking experience, banks must see clearly the rewards that come with convenient and useful service in their branches.
Customers who come to a branch usually want to solve a problem or get useful advice about their financial situation. It's common for people to be anxious when they come in. Prompt service with minimal hassles can go a long way to alleviating that stress.
Faster customer service
More organized and efficient queues make it easier for banks to get customers to the right staff member to help them solve their problems and be on their way.
Higher likelihood of return visits
How banks can improve queuing
The branch is a crucial
Implement a queuing system
A dedicated queue management solution can help banks overcome some of the most difficult issues that queues present. In fact, a virtual queuing or lobby management system can be the perfect bridge between a bank’s digital and physical experiences. Here’s how:
- Customers enjoy a seamless experience. People increasingly expect service to be consistent across all of their channels. Being able
transactions through a mobile banking app and then immediately book an appointment with a representative within seconds is a powerful way to allow customers to handle all of their banking needs with no hassle. to effortlessly handle
- Customers can wait on their own terms. By allowing customers to reserve their spot in line through a mobile device, tablet, or self-service kiosk, it removes the need for them to be physically present in the branch to wait in line.
Moreover, itallows customers to wait on their terms, not their bank’s. They’re free to run other errands, do some work, or simplyrelax until it’s their turn. In the meantime, they receive timely updates by text message. Moreover, ifsomething comes up, it’s easy for people to remove themselves from the queue.
- Customers have full transparency into their waiting experience. They can see their arrival times, the expected wait times, how many people are ahead of them, what
representativethey’ll be working with, and anything else they need to know. This alleviatesthe stress that comes with the uncertainty of a traditional queue.
Customers aren’t the only ones who reap the benefits of advanced queuing: Employees and management do
- Employees don’t have to focus on the queue, only their customers.
A queue management system can be configured customers to a particular rep based on their need. This allows employees to focus solely on doing what they to automatically assign do best: solve problems and provide experiences that enhance customer experience.
- Employees get the insight they need for fair queuing. Customers can usually tolerate a long line, but if they perceive the line to be unfair, that can absolutely tarnish their relationship with the branch. A queue management system will make it so employees always serve the right person at the right time. If someone made an appointment for a
giventime slot, no customers from the queue will be assignedduring that time.
- Employees always know what’s coming. Queue management systems can store customer information, or send it to the bank’s CRM, and allow staff to see the reason
whysomeone is coming to see them. This foresight makes it possible to prepare what’s needed for each appointment to eliminate wasted time on discovery.
The benefits to a queue management system are
Design branches around the queue
Banks should design branches in a way that fosters an optimal queue experience, rather than forcing customers to conform to what the bank finds to be a convenient setup.
As a recent CNN feature explains, the science of queuing is complex, and different
Even if a bank implements a queue management system and reduces the number of people physically waiting in line, some customers will prefer to wait in the branch. Banks will have to consider how to make people feel like they’re not waiting, even when they are.
Have multiple queues
Banks that want their branches to be versatile service hubs can’t just have a single queue for all services. A customer that just wants to perform a routine transaction or wants to clarify an error will require
Provide helpful signage
Digital signage and dashboards that make clear the wait times for different staff and services are a great way for banks to be transparent about how long everyone’s wait
Facilitate ‘occupied time’
One concept that Dr. Larson discussed is “occupied time,”
In supermarkets, putting magazines and snacks in lines allow people to occupy their time with something other than waiting for the line to move (As a bonus, these are usually
Retail banks should think about how they can
- Digital signage that offers helpful tips on financial management and success
- Promotional materials for services and products that in-branch customers can take advantage of while they are there
- Food and beverage service
- Video and interactive content that lets people test their financial knowledge
in a fun way
- Customer surveys that allow consumers to share their opinions while giving banks more ways to hear from their customers
The queue is a captive audience. Banks can use that reality to their advantage by improving customer service and creating opportunities for upsells and cross-sells.
Queuing and customer loyalty
What banks must remember is that the customer journey does not end with acquisition. Consumers are more empowered than ever to shop around for the services and experiences that suit them best. Just because someone is doing business with you today, it doesn’t mean they’ll stick around forever if there’s a perceived better option.
As Deloitte’s findings
In fact, 37.3 million U.S. consumers are planning to–or could
A failure to provide a superior customer experience is an open door for competitors to steal business and market share away.
For more information on virtual queuing solutions, please reference our latest Virtual Queuing datasheet.
About the author
The JRNI team is made up of product, customer, and technical experts who are focused on driving personalized experiences - for our customers, and for theirs. The JRNI blog enables us to dive into how retail and financial organizations can use personalized experiences to grow profitability, build stronger customer relationships, and drive customer loyalty.
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