When financial firms put the power of scheduling in their clients' hands, the advisor-client relationship benefits. [Invincible Bulldog/Getty Images]
In an appointment economy, organizations respect every customer's time by setting up specific appointments with them and adhering to start and stop times. These capabilities are critical for financial services firms.
Unfortunately, these companies have been slow to adapt to meet expectations. Clients still often call a 1-800 number and bounce around from representative to representative until someone finally helps them set up a meeting. Appointments can also be canceled or rescheduled repeatedly because the right people or resources aren't available, further frustrating the customer.
Meanwhile, on the firm's side, some financial advisors are overloaded with appointments and struggle to give their clients the best experiences, while others are just starting out and can't seem to fill their empty hours. If they don't have enough leads that convert to sales, they won't stay with the firm.
How can financial services firms streamline appointment settings in a way that meets customer expectations and balances schedules for the team? Consider these best practices:
Learn the tools for appointment scheduling success
See how appointment templates and automation can help your financial services firm organize your work day.
Automate the scheduling process
"With more and more complex engagements, you need to ensure that the right people are engaged at the right part of the customer journey using a scheduling tool that reflects the customer's need, expertise required, time and locational constraints, and the ability for both your team and the customer to drive the process," said Jim Marous owner and CEO of the "Digital Banking Report" and co-publisher of The Financial Brand.
You need to ensure that the right people are engaged at the right part of the customer journey.
Jim Marous, Owner and CEO, "Digital Banking Report" and co-publisher of The Financial Brand
The right scheduling automation tools fill every financial advisor's schedule. Instead of going back and forth with clients and setting up meetings manually, this kind of tool looks at your team's capacity holistically and sets meetings based on availability and skillset. This means financial advisors are less overwhelmed and overworked. Plus, it gives advisors the time and space they need to make the most of every moment with their clients.
Deliberate distribution also helps your teams expand their focus beyond their most complicated or demanding clients. You can send new leads to team members with wide-open schedules or to those who haven't met their meeting quota yet. You can also program a round-robin approach so that every team member gets opportunities to connect with potential new clients.
Include the right participants and resources
Sometimes meetings require more than just the advisor and the client. A scheduling tool helps you get everyone and everything you need into the physical or virtual room. It can include third-party participants, like a notary or lawyer. It can also book resources like a conference room to keep sensitive conversations private.
The tool keeps everyone updated on meeting details. If you've invited a mortgage broker to a meeting with a client who is ready to purchase new property, you can send a reminder to confirm or change the meeting time.
Give advisors the rich information they need
When financial service firms connect their scheduling capability to their customer relationship management (CRM) platform, everyone has the information they need for successful client meetings. This includes details about the client's identity, which helps your business adhere to Know Your Customer regulations, as well as information about the client's previous interactions and transactions.
As advisors take notes during their meetings, the information is added back into the CRM in real time. This new information can help direct future outreach efforts, and help every team deliver a consistent client experience whether that's with a service agent or marketing.
Manage shifting supply and demand
Whenever there's a spike in demand from customers, you usually enlist contractors to offer an extra hand. Tax season is the classic example when firms pull in additional accountants. Give contractors licenses to your scheduling tool in order to add their availability for appointments. That makes it easier to scale up to meet high client demand.
You can also license contractors who make their own schedules, such as independent wealth managers. They can update their availability and locations in the system.
Add a lobby management feature to help when clients stop in unexpectedly, such as to get answers to a few questions before they open an account with you. They can put their name on a list for a walk-in appointment, and get a text message when a financial advisor is ready to meet with them. This feature keeps your physical lobby clear. You can also enable notifications to clients who are waiting in the virtual lobby for their appointment.
Make scheduling easier for your clients
On one side of the coin is the appointment setting for financial advisors. The other: your customers want the convenience of setting their own appointments.
That planning often occurs outside of traditional business hours. That means financial services firms need to provide self-service capabilities for appointment scheduling.
From your website or an authenticated portal, provide clients with everything necessary to book appointments based on their individual needs. This includes the ability to:
View customer reviews and ratings of different financial advisors
Find an advisor who meets their needs based on recommendations that use machine learning
Choose between in-person or virtual appointments
See automated next steps, such as what to do after they create an account or fill out a form
Get information about changes or updates in real time in the communication channel of their choice
Make changes to appointments, if needed
If a customer cancels a meeting, an automated follow-up about rescheduling is sent straight to the inbox of both the customer and the advisor, so your firm avoids losing a lead.
Give everyone the time they need
With a digital tool handling their schedules, your financial advisors have more time to get to know their clients and tailor solutions to meet their needs. It all comes together to help clients feel valued, which builds their trust and loyalty in your institution.
See how to streamline appointment setting
Discover how you can easily manage appointments for your financial advisors and your clients.