No one likes to make people wait, but sometimes you have to do it. Like it or not, waiting is part of your lobby experience. Your branch might be short-staffed, or maybe you have an unexpected rush during lunch hour. But those scenarios don’t mean consumers should have a terrible waiting experience.

Like everything else about your credit union or community bank, your lobby experience is an offshoot of your brand. It needs to represent you well.

As an example, Volkswagen dealerships have a fantastic waiting experience.

I took my car in for routine maintenance a couple weeks ago and had to wait. The representative, Colby, immediately told me it would be more than an hour. Colby gave me status updates every 15 minutes, and the dealership gave me a free car wash.

Even though I had a long wait, I left feeling satisfied. Your credit union or community bank can have the same effect. Here are three ways to improve your lobby’s waiting experience.

1. Practice Openness

Telling people about long wait times isn’t fun, but consumers will appreciate knowing the wait time right away. Your immediate openness empowers them. You’re giving the consumer enough information to decide whether to wait or leave.

Wait time openness seems small, but its effect is huge. Sprout social shows 59% of consumers define transparency as “openness,” and 86% of consumers believe transparency is more important than ever before.

So when Colby told me the dealership’s long wait time, he empowered me and the Volkswagen brand. His openness let me make my own decision while showing the dealership would be honest, even if the news wasn’t good.

2. Do Occasional Check-Ins

As I said earlier, Colby gave me car maintenance status updates every 15 minutes. These could be as simple as “they just started looking at it,” but it satisfied me. Why?

It’s because occasional check-ins satisfy the consumer’s need to know what you’re doing.

People are less likely to mind long waits if they know how much work you’re doing for them. A Harvard Business Review study showed website progress bars describing website processes (i.e. “150 results found so far…”) left people happier whether they waited one second or one minute.

Don’t be afraid to specifically describe what’s causing the wait and tell the consumer about your hard work. It’ll make them appreciate your effort and cause time to fly a little faster.

3. Offer Free Perks

Consumers love free things, and they’ll love you if you give them free things. Colby gave me a free car wash to compensate for the wait. The Volkswagen waiting room also offered free WiFi, coffee and water.

At the very least, your waiting room should offer free drinks and WiFi too. But what else can you give consumers? What’s your special draw to compensate for long wait times?

Think about partnering with local businesses and handing out Dairy Queen or Wendy’s coupons. That’s a nice treat after someone’s wait!

Or maybe hand out branded merch – a branded pen, a branded folder, a branded shirt – really anything branded. Branded promotional items made 82% of people have positive brand impressions, so this freebie type would reverse any negative impressions from a long wait.

After following these tips, does your lobby’s waiting experience still upset your members or customers? If so, there may be larger issues at play with more than just your lobby experience. An On The Mark Strategies marketing audit will help resolve those issues and get you back on track. Sign up for a marketing audit today!

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