If you make the argument that your bank’s brand is all about the face-to-face visit and you believe branches are more important than ever, then it makes sense that you should be optimizing your traffic to drive customer engagement and sales. After all, your branch is the most expensive marketing tool you have so to improve bank performance you should be leveraging that traffic. In this article, we look at some experiments we are doing by leveraging data from our customer’s cell phones to boost engagement. We will explain wifi analytics and how banks can leverage this emerging technology.
What is WiFi Analytics?
Chances are you don’t turn wifi off on your smartphone as you move around your day and as a result, your phone looks for available networks every 20 or so seconds depending on the device. It does this by transmitting a signal, a “ping,” and then waiting for a response. Your current wifi network can be boosted to pick up and analyze the number, movement, and strength of these pings in order to gather data. This data gathering is irrespective of if anyone signs on to the network – potential customers and customers only have to be in proximity which often includes being outside the branch. Further, this data is anonymous, unless the customer has deliberately opted in for location-based services that allow you to identify the visitor.
Why Should You Care – The Basics
For starters, getting live wifi data from your branches allows banks to deliver banking products and service better. Wifi analytics help banks collect information in several key areas:
Traffic: The advent of online and mobile banking has changed branch traffic. Many banks have not done a traffic study in their branches for years and are still working off antiquated staffing models.
At CenterState, for example, traffic has changed. Monday’s still exhibit more of a traditional branch traffic model. Here, traffic is high in the morning and then peaks again at lunch. However, with remote deposit capture and digital banking, other days have shifted. Thursdays, for example, have peaks at the 10 am and 11 am hour and then traffic drops until the end of the day. For that matter, branch traffic shifts depending on the month. July traffic is radically different than our October or December traffic. December is more transactional while January is more relationship driven. These differences require a different staff mix. WiFi analytics allows banks to fine-tune and manage staffing to better match demand.
Time Spent In Branch: The average customer spends a little less than 10 minutes in our branch. Similar to traffic, monitoring, benchmarking and managing this time could help the bank achieve its goals. If it is a transactional branch, banks may want to look at tactics to shorten this time in order to get customers on their way. For more relationship branches, longer times may be a marker of engagement.
New vs. Existing Visitors: Better understanding the percentage of first-time users of the branch can open up a whole series of tactics. Wifi analytics pick up and highlight new, unique phones that walk into the branch in addition to charting the time spent. These visitors are either customers that have never set foot in the branch or non-customers looking for information.
The Frequency of Visit: How often does your customer visit the branch and when they come in, what do they do? Wifi analytics lets you better understand the composition of new vs. existing visitors while giving you an indication of the frequency of usage. This data is key if you plan to transition more customers to mobile as you can ensure you are not losing the customer to another bank. A drop in branch traffic for a particular customer should be accompanied by an increase in mobile or online bank usage.
Traffic Flow: Wifi analytics lets you know the foot traffic “hot spots” the information of which will allow for better branch design and to see where your traffic patterns are. This helps better locate learning centers, educational content, and marketing materials.
Once you have the basics down, advanced wifi analytics allows your bank to go way beyond traditional branch traffic counting such as using hand clickers, teller reports or door based light/monocular counters. Specifically, you can obtain the following branch superpowers:
Customer ID: Collect the device MAC address on the phone (banks have this information from their mobile banking registration), and wifi analytics can alert you to your customers that walk in the door so branch staff can be ready to personalize your customer’s visits. You can now know Mrs. Smith when she walks in the door and has a surprised greeting for her by the time she gets to the universal banker desk.
Equally important, branch staff can better understand those visitors that are not customers that may exhibit at-risk behavior such as observing the platform from a low traffic area or exhibiting a series of repeat short-term visits that may indicate a “casing” behavior.
Engagement: By comparing longer visit times and traffic patterns, wifi analytics can alert you to those products that engage your customers. This data can help you better understand staffing, wait times and target those customers that learn about a product but don’t purchase.
Pass By Counts: Metro banks in areas with heavy drive by or walking traffic usually have no idea the amount of existing and potential customers that go by the branch within wifi range but don’t come in. Understanding if this traffic is increasing or decreasing can aid in branch decisions and marketing.
User Data: For customers that want to log in and use the free guest wifi, a whole range of valuable information can be harvested to include device type, phone number, age, sex, social networks and more. This information can be appended to your customer information system in order to strengthen engagement and marketing programs.
Branding and Marketing: For customers that do opt in, banks can create customized landing pages to reinforce the bank’s brand, provide offers or to encourage social interaction.
Putting This Into Action
Wifi analytics is usually the first step banks take to improve their location analytics. Wifi analytics is straightforward, fairly simple to implement and low cost at around $600 to $3,000 per branch depending on size. Euclid Analytics and Cisco Meraki are two of the more popular bank wifi analytic providers. For banks that want to take location analytics to the next level, they can also install low energy Bluetooth transmitters and leverage systems like Apple’s iBeacon or Google’s Eddystone. Here, banks can gather more accurate location data and be able to send messages.
On a cost per engagement basis, your branch is your most expensive delivery channel you own by far - a delivery channel that is getting more, not less, expensive as branch traffic drops. If you are looking to get the most out of your branches, wifi analytics is an easy first step to leverage the power of data to aid in more efficient channel delivery and marketing.
Submitted by Chris Nichols on October 16, 2017