Three reasons for remote appointments in banking

With the country still dealing with COVID-19 and each state handling things in its own way, it’s critical for financial services organizations throughout the U.S. to ensure the safety of their customers and employees while also providing the same sense of stability as prior to the pandemic.

Customers are quickly learning which of their service providers are adapting best to this new world. For banks, the main concerns include how to maintain personal relationships amid social distancing; how to be available at any time on any device; and how to provide a sense of calm and security.

So, how can banks help their customers through these tumultuous financial times, when in-person communication may be difficult? A solution is to provide helpful, personalized customer service through digital channels. One way is through remote appointments. Banks are turning to remote video and voice appointments to boost customer satisfaction and meet customer expectations.

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Three reasons to use remote appointments

To comply with social distancing: Our Modern Consumer Banking Report​​​​​​​ last year showed that when consumers visit branches, it’s primarily to talk face-to-face to ask questions or get help.  Research from Bain reinforces this, and emphasizes that “many retail banking customers think it’s easier to purchase through a human channel, or prefer to speak with an employee before buying a product.”

Due to social distancing measures, branches cannot always be customers’ primary way of managing their finances during this pandemic. However, this doesn’t mean that customers aren’t interested in personalized attention that can be made available via video and voice.

To meet new demand: Although spending habits may have changed, consumers are still making critical financial decisions during the pandemic.

For individuals, the financial effects of coronavirus are drastically different from one customer to the next. While some are counting down the days to receiving their next unemployment check, others may be taking advantage of low-interest rates to buy a house. Ultimately, banks and credit unions need to address each customer segment with a unique message and way of providing assistance.

Countless small businesses around the world have been forced to close their doors. Whether they’re needing loans, payment deferrals, or advice, small businesses are looking to their financial services provider as a guide, and a comfort.

And for investment management customers, financial advisors are fielding questions, providing recommendations and staying up to date on the market. Beyond this, many are building entirely new strategies for their clients.

To boost customer retention: ​​​​​​​​​​​​​Financial institutions cannot afford to lose customers during the pandemic, so customer retention is crucial.  Great customer service boosts customer loyalty, and research from Bain shows that loyalty is key to retention:

  • Customer loyalty increases revenue, and loyal customers are less likely to switch to a competing bank.
  • Customers who are “promoters” recommend the financial services provider to others, as much as six times more than “detractors.”
  • “Promoters” spend one-quarter more than detractors on their primary credit card.

Ultimately, being able to connect with a customer in need using video or voice can give customers peace of mind and boost loyalty. Delivering personalized financial services without interruption is critical.

Initial results from video banking show that consumers consider the service valuable. Phoenix Synergistics’ survey from December 2019 found that 17 percent of customers polled had used video chat through a website or app with their financial institution. Of those that had used video chat, 89 percent found video chat valuable.

To leverage remote and voice appointments, it’s necessary to first ensure your solution is secure and doesn’t expose personal information outside of the conversation. You also need to create a culture of consultation to alleviate outstanding fears. In addition, leverage appointment setting to allow customers to pre-schedule consultations and inquiries. And, finally, include remote appointments as part of a wider suite of “touchless” offerings.

Financial institutions are using remote appointments to form connections and provide top-notch service for their customers. This is especially critical now. If you’re not using remote and voice appointments, you are missing out on an effective way to not only bolster safety in the time of COVID, but also reinforce positive customer experiences and loyalty.

Nick Barnes is head of customer experience at JRNI