Leading Through Crisis, Making Opportunities Out of Challenges: Part 3 - Tucson Federal Credit Union

Leading Through Crisis, Making Opportunities Out of Challenges: Part 3

Last of three articles from the series Hasta La Vista, Baby: Leading Through Crisis, Making Opportunities Out of Challenges Series.
Written by
Matthew Gaspari, Executive Vice President/Chief Operating Officer at Tucson Federal Credit Union

Merriam-Webster defines courage as “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.”  We are in unusual times and unusual times present unusual opportunities. What started out as a reaction to a challenge has presented itself as a chance to redefine the way business is done and as an opportunity to be courageous and shift now to a way of doing business that was expected to take years to achieve.

Appointment only banking, when done well, can provide better service, more convenience, and is more beneficial to the membership than open lobbies with walk-in traffic.  Don’t believe me?  At first blush, an open door from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with unfettered consumer access seems to be the epitome of convenience.  Show up whenever you want, it’s worked that way for decades, it’s the expectation if you want to market convenience.  But is it?  When you consider what that convenience often looks like in reality, it takes on a different feel.  Doors are open, and it’s first come first served. How do you schedule your day with that degree of variation?  If you’re third in line, you have a wait time that can be five minutes, thirty minutes, or longer.  Here is where a business can lose control of a brand promise of exceptional service where they advertise convenience but deliver a clogged workflow.

Maybe the solution is hidden in plain sight. Those same three people from the earlier scenario could have a different experience with some intentional business and workflow planning. I present you with the alternative convenience.  Get on your mobile phone, make an appointment based on your calendar not ours.  Show up on time and receive immediate and efficient service and off you go.  That feels more like convenience to me, where you trade open doors and lines for planned visits that fit your schedule.  It’s counterintuitive to industry norms, but when examining most service industries, appointment only tends to rule the day.  For example, Apple Store Genius Bar, hair salons, dealership oil changes, doctors’ appointments.  Typically, these are handled by appointment only. If it works when managing personal technology, appearance, the health of your car, and yourself, it can work when managing your financial life.  I believe it is the path forward for our industry.

Business Trends

It’s called The Appointment Economy, and according to The Financial Brand, 72% of customers state that the ability to preschedule appointments online would help increase convenience but only 23% of the respondent’s financial institutions had that type of access. Implementing online appointment scheduling software can improve operational efficiency online and in branch in real time. (Randhawa, 2020).  Tucson Federal Credit Union has supported mobile and online appointment scheduling for more than a year and this, along with ITMs, also has been a game changer in adjusting our business model.

I feel strongly that credit unions need to seize on the opportunity to make changes to service delivery. Appointment only workflow during the pandemic has been successful with our loan production increasing by 65% year on year from 2019.  For example, an auto loan promotion started at the onset of stay-at-home orders and restricted lobby access was 57% more successful than an identical promotion in 2019.   Is that all because of the change in our workflow?   Impossible to say, but using a scientific term, the pandemic was the control element.  In fact, economic and environmental factors were less supportive of a successful promotion in 2020 compared to 2019.  Facts I can confirm: 1) branch staff was able to manage their calendars in an intentional and efficient way via the appointment only model; 2) production was significantly higher; and 3) our Net Promoter Score was not negatively impacted.  An important lesson learned that we don’t want to ignore.

Call to Action

The technology is here, and customers are ready.  Credit unions have a unique opportunity to lead a financial services revolution when we typically are playing catch up. Do we have the nerve to make the changes now, before it’s a guaranteed success? An opportunity like this presents itself once in a career to make a fundamental change in your industry. Now is the moment for credit unions to venture into this new territory.


Randhawa, M. (2020). How the Appointment Economy Is Changing the Retail Banking Experience. Retrieved from https://thefinancialbrand.com/100563/appointment-scheduling-software-retail-banking-cx-branch-digital/

Streeter, B. (2018). Mobile Video Banking Ready to Rock: Insights From Early Adopters. Retrieved from https://thefinancialbrand.com/74247/mobile-video-banking-insights-best-practices/