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In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, financial institutions around the country adjusted their services for a virtual model that’s safer and more convenient for customers. While we hope the need for social distancing safety will come to an end, the need for convenience is here to stay. It’s time to take a step back and evaluate the changes, or lack thereof, that were made to quickly accommodate customers during shelter-in-place restrictions. Let’s look at the top 5 ways to improve your virtual branch. 

1) Update Your Website to a Mobile-Friendly Design 

We can’t stress this enough. A virtual branch is meant for on-the-go use, so users are most likely going to be on their phones when looking at your website. Even if the ultimate goal is for customers to download your mobile banking app, you need to win them over first and that starts with the website. This is especially important if you don’t offer a mobile app, because all of your mobile users will be accessing your website through their phone’s browsers! 

Things to consider for a mobile-friendly bank website: 

  • Keep the integrity of your website design on all screen sizes by designing the site to stack. 

  • Make sure the online banking and mobile banking buttons or links are out of the condensed mobile menu and easily accessible. When those buttons are in the header (top) navigation, website users can see them without having to open the mobile menu.  

  • Double check that all of the financial logos are present and visible (FDIC and EHL) on the appropriate pages. 

  • Ensure all resources, like financial calculators, have functionality on mobile devices. 

2) Add Online Account Opening, Loan Applications & eSignatures 

We see a lot of community banks that offer online banking but require paper documents to sign up, which significantly disrupts the virtual branch process. It’s not going to work when people are stuck at home and still isn’t going to work when consumers grow accustomed to an all-online process. 

  • Keep the application process as short as possible while gathering the information that you need. If consumers think it’s takes too long to open an account, they’re going to abandon the form and go to a competitor. 

  • Enable a Save & Resume feature so they don’t abandon the account altogether mid-way through the process if something comes up. 

  • Allow eSignatures by partnering with a secure vendor so the entire process is online from start to finish. 

3) Offer Online Appointment Scheduling  

There’s no such thing as waiting in line over the phone. Nowadays, less and less people are willing to drive to banks when other options are available and we know that you may not always have time to offer consultations whenever someone calls. Including a form for people to schedule appointments with you is a great solution. Just make sure your availability remains updated and that you send a follow-up email to confirm the appointment. 

The same rules about length apply with this form as well as the online applications we mentioned earlier. The shorter the better. Since this person is already committing to a time to speak to you, the form really only needs the following fields: 

  • First & last name 

  • Phone number 

  • Email 

  • Reason for appointment 

Any other details you can collect over the call, but this’ll give you enough background info to prepare for the meeting and reach out. 

4) Check the Terms of Telecommunication Services 

Many banks were looking for a convenient and inexpensive solution to continue internal and external communications, so they signed up for the free versions of video chatting services like Zoom. However, the free version is never going to meet compliance regulations for the financial industry because Business Associate Agreements aren’t included. 

That’s why we recommend for your legal team to check the terms of any telecommunications services you’ve signed up for and ensure that they’re meeting compliance regulations. If you’re in need of a new, more secure service, talk to us.  

5) Publicize Your Virtual Branch  

It’s not enough to make changes that ensure a smooth online experience, your customers need to know about it! Put together a comprehensive campaign centered around keywords that your customers are using to describe pain points they’re having. When you show up in their Google search results with a solution, you’re on the right track. 

Consider these tactics for a comprehensive campaign: 

  • Send an email out to customers and prospects about your updates. 

  • Create a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) campaign to serve ads when people in your area are searching for a virtual branch experience. 

  • Post about website updates on social media. 

  • Update your Google My Business to include any additional virtual services offered. 

 

If you want to get started on improving your virtual branch, we’re offering free, no-strings-attached consultations with our experts to help you determine what your next steps should be. Just fill out the form below and we’ll reach out to you soon to schedule a time to chat. 

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