Video conferencing is slowly emerging in the retail banking sector as a way to meet growing customer expectations and combat declining foot traffic in branch locations. There are so many things customers can now do online that they don’t even need to go to a bank. Checking account balances, transferring money between accounts and even paying bills can be done with a few simple clicks on a bank’s website.

As a result, banks need to find new ways to interact with their customers. International financial research and consulting firm, Celent, recently released the report Video Banking: Lights, Camera, Transactions?, discussing how video solutions can be used along with the benefits they provide.

The most practical application is connecting customers to bank tellers and subject matter experts via video at lobbies, vestibules and even at home. Customers can ask questions about their finances, consult with a financial advisor or begin the loan application process with an online advisor. For example, instead of driving to the bank to fill out a mortgage application, a customer can meet face-to-face over video with a loan specialist who can answer questions and begin the application process.

Video banking not only provides increased customer interaction, it can provide significant cost benefit as well. Customers expect a lot from their banks and video conferencing allows banks to keep up with customer demand while reducing expensive branch investments. They can use video solutions to maintain strong customer relationships without having to staff subject matter experts at each retail location.

The Bank of Montreal has implemented Cisco videoconferencing workstations to serve as a customer assistance tool rather than a “do-it-yourself” system. The technology still has a few issues, but they are being worked out. For example, in some instances a customer may require paperwork and paper cannot be transferred through this system. However, the digital teller can help the customer obtain the necessary paperwork and provide instructions as to where it needs to be delivered.

Bank of America had a different idea for the technology and implemented ATM with Teller Assist. This allows customers to experience the convenience of an ATM but still be able to speak to a Bank of America teller in real time via video. These ATMs allow customers to cash checks for the exact amount and receive change, as well as receive cash withdrawals. Eventually, the ATM will allow customers to deposit checks with cash back, split a deposit into two or more accounts and make a credit card or loan payment. With the probable success of these implemented technologies, it won’t be long before other banks begin the process of changing to video banking.

These are just two examples of how banks are using video. Several other establishments have either deployed video solutions or are currently testing the viability. Eventually as technology advances, users will be able to take video banking mobile, and use video conferencing to talk to tellers and bankers through tablets and mobile devices. By using apps, texting, voice conversations and two-way video, banking can eventually go completely virtual. In fact, we might look back one day and say I remember when you actually had to go to the bank to cash a check!

“This call may be monitored for quality assurance.”

How many times have you heard that throughout your life? The reality is, as technology continues to change at a rapid pace, the way we communicate with our vendors and service provides is rather primitive. When the cable bill arrives with the wrong charges (surely that never happens!), one has to pick-up the phone only to wait on hold for twenty minutes to ultimately get a resolution. Or maybe a recent purchase for a child warrants some technical support; again a phone call and wait time must be endured. At the same time, it can be very difficult to explain a problem to a support agent by merely describing it.

For years, there has been talk about moving video technology into a business to consumer world. But, what does this mean? Simply, customers could connect to the very same contact center they call now, but speak to the appropriate agent via video. The advantages of this are significant! Suddenly, all customer service interactions would benefit from everything video conferencing has to offer. The agent can work with the customer and gain a better idea of their understanding of a particular topic. Second, the customer can point the camera at the item being discussed (extra parts to a new toy that don’t seem to have a use) and immediately give the agent better insight into the issue. Finally, video could put a more personal face on what can seem like a very impersonal interaction.

While video contact centers have been a topic of discussion for a while, why is now any different? There is a convergence of several key market and technology trends that could make this idea a reality.

The Proliferation of Video, Everywhere
Video is truly everywhere. Consumers are already accustomed to communicating with family and friends over video. Whether it is via a social network, Skype, or another service, video has truly gone main stream. At the same time, many people are used to going to work and using video as a tool to complete assigned projects and tasks.

Mobile Devices
The explosive growth of mobile devices, such as smart phones and tables, has put multiple video enabled devices into nearly everyone’s pockets. A user can grab their phone and make a video call just as easily as a voice call. These devices have not only helped make video ubiquitous, they have also made video far more accessible than ever imagined.

Advanced Contact Center Technology
Even though most customer service interactions have been limited to voice, the technology driving these connections is rather advanced. Many organizations had implemented technology that allows them to hire the most talented support agents and place them anywhere. In addition, these solutions are able to route calls intelligently to both an available agent and the most skilled agent for the issue at hand. Customers have become far savvier and do not accept being transferred multiple times. Technology has helped route customers to the right person at the right time.

WebRTC
WebRTC has been discussed many times on this blog and the technology is one of the main catalysts of the video contact center. If a user requires help, the desire to spend 15-20 minutes downloading an application to their computer or smartphone is nonexistent. With WebRTC, one click could immediately initiate a video call right in their browser. With no downloads needed, the customer would get near immediate access. Unfortunately, there is no technology that can eliminate wait times completely!

As all of these elements come together, the promise of the video contact center is very real. The ultimate question comes down to the customers themselves. Will they embrace this type of interaction and will they push the vendors they do business with to implement this technology? What do you think? Would you welcome the opportunity to get support via video?

The finance industry, now recovering from the worst crisis it has faced in decades, still faces challenges that must be addressed in order to ensure stability into the future. Banks and other financial institutions are restoring consumer confidence by cutting business costs, implementing processes to become more efficient, restructuring and consolidating distributed work forces, and undergoing reorganization efforts.

IT divisions of banks are embracing leading edge technology, including unified communication (UC) solutions, as part of the effort to address many of these challenges. UC systems utilize integrated visual collaboration, audio conferencing and data sharing capabilities to improve communication among remote parties. UC solutions are prevalent within the finance industry and are used to improve:

  • Customer service and support:  Bank customers who visit branch locations are provided access to services and subject matter experts that may only be available at headquarter locations. Support is provided in real-time, with face-to-face transactions that create a collaborative environment.  As a result, the branch is turned into a robust sales channel that is more responsive and able to offer additional products and services.
  • Internal communication and productivity: Video and UC solutions improve and streamline internal communication by establishing a more personal connection among employees in disparate branch and office locations; when information is shared readily and easily, the level of productivity is increased and bank profitability is improved.
  • Corporate training: Video conferencing and streaming facilitates new hire training and education on new financial vehicles by providing consistent information to all participants, at one time, regardless of location. Video reduces the costs associated with transporting training personnel to locations on site; users can receive training sessions delivered via desk top and mobile applications. Sessions can be recorded and archived for later viewing.
  • Recruiting and retaining talent: Video assists the screening process by reducing the need to meet with remote candidates in-person for initial interviews; video provides enough clarity to aid the decision making process and determine who moves on to the next round. Additionally, by creating an efficient and productive environment, video and UC solutions help financial institutions build their reputations within the industry, which works to retain top talent.

Visual collaboration technology, when combined with cloud-based managed services, creates a meeting experience so realistic, bank customers and employees will instantly feel as though they are participating in an-person meeting or training session.

Your company probably ranks its ability to deliver outstanding customer service as an essential part of the business. But how likely is it that your clients are actually experiencing the level of customer service that you want to them to receive? If you are interested in transforming an average customer service experience into a truly exceptional interaction that customers will remember (and keep them coming back), consider implementing a visual collaboration system as part of a unified communications (UC) solution.

UC solutions, including video conferencing applications, facilitate face-to-face communication by creating life-like, virtual meetings, and can be an effective way to improve the interactions clients have with your customer service and sales teams. Video can instantly improve the customer service experience in many ways, including:

  • A more personal interaction with help desk and customer call center personnel, resulting in quicker problem resolution time and enhanced trouble-shooting.
  • Access to subject matter experts who can better address technical and product related questions.
  • Efficient training of customer service and sales teams, resulting in more informed discussions with customers.

Visual collaboration technology, when combined with cloud-based managed services, creates a meeting experience so realistic, your customers will instantly feel as though they are in the same room with the service agent or sales rep. The resulting interactions will blow away the competition, who is most likely using audio-only conferencing and is therefore lacking the in-person benefits properly implemented video technology provides.