Making branch visits more pleasant can't be just about boring pleasantries.

How to increase branch visits

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Of all modern-day conveniences – of which there are many – the internet is undoubtedly the most consequential. Online capabilities have served as a boon for some industries and a bust for others, but for many it's a mixed bag. Consider print media. Hundreds of newspapers have either folded or transitioned entirely to digital subscriptions, but for some the internet has not only improved revenues but enhanced circulation.

The same can be said for the retail segment. Several once-thriving corporations have declared bankruptcy or downsized, while others have implemented strategic changes enabling them to become major powerhouses both in both the brick-and-mortar space and e-commerce. Notably, according to a study conducted by the Council of Shopping Centers, strong online sales often translate into solid physical store sales, due to a phenomenon called "The Halo Effect." This is important as, despite the dramatic growth in online purchases, close to 90% of sales remain in-store per the CSC, and consumers spend more in-person according to Forbes.

The 'phygital' age is here
Banking has undergone what can only be described as a major transformation due to the runaway train of advanced digitization. From anywhere and everywhere, account holders can now log on and see exactly how much savings they have available in real time, transfer funds between their accounts or make payments, all without ever stepping foot into a branch or credit union. The struggle was real when institutions began migrating customers to digital – particularly with baby boomers – but remote banking has pretty much become second nature with smartphone penetration as high as it is.

"Certain things that can only be done in branch settings."

No matter how convenient online banking may be, however, there are certain things that consumers prefer be done in the branch. In short, face-to-face interaction remains the mover and shaker of profitability and differentiation from corporate competitors.

It raises the question: What can you do to encourage more visitors without sabotaging your digital strategy? In other words, is there a way to blend bricks with clicks? Here are a few strategies to consider:

Make it kid-friendly
Due to the cost of living these days, most households find both parents employed. These mothers and fathers must be able to balance the responsibilities of parenting with their careers and the day-to-day tasks of managing a home. This is made easier thanks to telecommuting and flexible work schedules. You can help make financial tasks more of a go-to event by providing child-friendly attractions at your branch. Whether that's "a "kid's corner" with coloring books and puzzles or a candy dish filled with favorite sweets, parents may be more likely to swing by when they know it will be an experience their children will truly enjoy.

Employ 'digital ambassadors
In many ways, online banking has become its own entity, as there are now financial institutions that have gone completely digital. This has raised the stakes for brick-and-mortar FIs, forcing them to embrace mobile solutions as a complement to in-branch offerings. That said, while the speed with which banking features are progressing is truly amazing, many of these options aren't exactly intuitive. That's what makes digital ambassadors so worthwhile. When your customers know they can receive help by actually going to your branch to learn how to use new functions, it can lead to other opportunities to increase business and/or loyalty. You may even want to consider hosting classes at your facility on a quarterly basis to answer questions or provide troubleshooting tips. 

Emphasize people skills
As the theme song for the NBC comedy series "Cheers," said, "Sometimes you want to go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came." Personalizing the in-branch experience may be the most important aspect to increasing visits. People want to feel like they're valued. You can do that by ensuring personnel get more well acquainted with individuals, whether that's by learning their name, smiling, maintaining eye contact as often as possible, or simply asking how they're doing – and being genuinely interested in their welfare. Integrating tablets with your automation can ensure quick reference to prompt these discussions with critical customer information at your fingertips.

Go open concept
Let's face it: Waiting stinks. Nevertheless it's almost a guarantee during busy times of the day, like early in the morning or the evening rush when people are returning home from work. You may want to consider restructuring your interior and leveraging automation so customers – and personnel – are free to roam and lines are reduced. According to a study conducted by JRNI, 74% of respondents said they'd go to their branch more often if they knew waiting would be less time consuming.

Make 2020 the year you reconnect with your customers and revive branch visits. BranchServ can help you maximize your growth potential. Contact us to learn more.