In an era of instant gratification and services that come to the consumer – not the other way around – people aren't tackling personal business and errands quite like they used to. With online and mobile access points, a dip in customer foot traffic has been evident throughout retail – banking included. And the trend is expected to continue if something isn't done to make an in-person visit not just necessary but appealing.
The question is, how do you go about bringing people back to your branches?
Between 2017 and 2022, consumer visits to retail banks and credit unions are forecast to slip as much as 36 percent, The Financial Brand reported from a study done by CACI, a multinational services firm. Currently, account holders pay a visit to these brick-and-mortar locations approximately seven times in a given year. But four years from now, that number could dwindle to just four visits.
The reason for the drop is pretty straightforward: mobile and digital alternatives. As apps and online banking portals gain further traction in the years ahead, The Financial Brand reports that these types of transactions could jump by +121 percent by 2022.
It would be one thing if banks and credit unions were shirking their duties. But they're doing just the opposite: In a Gallup survey, banks and credit unions were rated highest by customers in terms of service quality compared to six other business types, such as grocery stores, delivery providers and clothing retailers.
Furthermore, nearly 80 percent of consumers seek out banking professionals when they need money management advice, a separate poll from Samsung found.
Translation: In-branch professionals are clearly doing something right. They just need to step up their customer satisfaction know-how to better leverage where they've made inroads. Here are a few suggestions:
Cut wait times
No one has time to stand in line. It's boring, frustrating and, above all, unproductive. In the aforementioned Samsung survey, a whopping 55 percent of respondents who acknowledged visiting banks and credit unions less frequently said long wait times played a role.
To cut down on downtime, banks should consider implementing an open layout in their facilities so banking professionals can come to them where they are. Additionally, for transaction-based services, cash recyclers can dramatically reduce wait times through automation. They also have superior security features and reduce cash exposure so they're safe to keep in open settings.
Partner with area businesses
Retail banking is an ultra-competitive industry but banks and credit unions have common interests with other retailers – satisfying the customer chief among them. Kevin Tynan, a senior vice president of marketing for a Chicago-based financial services firm, said community banks might want to consider joining forces with other businesses.
"You'll need to consider several factors when selecting a partner," Tynan wrote in American Banker. "[These include] demographics and frequency of customer visits, product compatibility, credibility and reputation.
Tynan further advised that banks may want to partner with delivery or insurance firms so customers can take advantage of one-stop shopping.
Run the numbers
Effects – like declining foot traffic – always have a cause. Your job is to find the chink in the chain. Are employees just going through the motions? Are goals being established? Is equipment breaking down? Evaluating things as they are can be the first step to coming up with a solution.
Customers are the lifeblood of retail banking. BranchServ can help you put your best branch forward so more account holders return to the brick-and-mortar fold. From branch transformation to retail automation, BranchServ can supply your facility with the amenities that can help you put your customers first.