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Video banking: how banks can do it well

Telephone banking and chatbots unsurprisingly proved popular for customers during the pandemic because of how they allowed them to interact with people at their bank in a safe and convenient way. Research from GlobalData found that from 2017 to 2020, the number of active telephone banking customers almost doubled, and mobile usage saw a 15 percentage point increase.

But many banks missed the opportunity to offer video banking to provide greater choice of channel and ease pressure on call centres. One possible reason was that while the pandemic saw some swift pivoting to digital services, banks didn’t have time to review and improve processes, as they had to focus on day-to-day client servicing. However, using coronavirus as an excuse for poor customer engagement today will no longer fly.

There is a clear opportunity for banks to invest in video banking and do it well. As banks consider the future of their branch networks, it is worth them thinking about which branches could be reconfigured and become more profitable with video banking. Such technology can enable high value consultations for products like mortgages or investments to be done more efficiently and within secure areas of a branch. Clearly the investment would be leveraged for remote virtual meetings.

One explanation for why banks may have held off on offering in-branch video banking is poor in-branch internet connectivity. Bank leaders should therefore be thinking: “Whichever branches I can keep or reconfigure, we need it to have the highest connectivity capability possible.” Locations armed with strong bandwidth for doing as much video engagement as need be, will be best placed to serve remote customers. Secure staff access from home, with equally strong connectivity should also be a priority.

Such branches will give customers more autonomy over the channel they use for engaging with their bank, which if done well, can boost customer satisfaction. Recent Which? research found speaking directly with a member of staff is the most efficient way of sorting consumers’ complaints. So, why not do it over video? We know from our personal lives it creates a better connection between people.

By investing in video banking technology in-branch, banks could offer a mix of walk-in and remote video appointments. It means specialist bank staff who are available at the exact time a customer wants to speak to someone don’t have to be local to the customer. To do this well, requires not just the technology, but excellent scheduling and skills-based routing.

But improving internet connection that financial organisations is just one small (simple) piece of a much larger puzzle. The fundamental barrier for banks is that many are still struggling to join up processes that should be simple and enable their teams with the best support through technology. For example, some customer service representatives are still having to resort to taking long card numbers manually on the phone and typing it up, which is insecure and time-consuming, rather than putting the customer through to an automated system.

Making sure customers can do simple things easily, and that the option for self-service is available when customers have a preference to do something themselves is vital. Clearly, being open on when you are talking to a virtual chatbot compared to a real person is also important. So, why not for high value interactions really focus on getting the best in person and virtual experience?

To realise better communication and digital enablement, banks need to adopt a modern, agile IT framework that puts the customer at the centre of the equation. By creating one central hub for all customer information, banks can break down the siloes between departments, and ensure data flows seamlessly throughout the organisation. Is that easy given legacy systems? Arguably yes, given that most are still operating with product-based separate systems. So, the connections and enablement across those systems becomes central to success. That way, customer service agents are always kept in the loop with previous communications and interactions that customer had with their colleagues to provide the best service. Customers receive a smooth, consistent and as frictionless as possible experience no matter which channels they use, boosting satisfaction and loyalty.

I was asked the other day by a client what I would do to jump ahead of the competition if I were still working in operations in a bank. Well, it would not simply be about video and connecting customers to the right staff for their advice and needs. It would also be enabling the optimal amount of cross-skilling and staff movement across teams, using predictive and adaptive models within processes to help guide and predict, and actually get the work done to improve productivity. And it would be around getting that balance right between choice and channel-less priority. In other words, look at how in reality, we make very little use of our phones for a phone call with no video. If it’s important, it’s a virtual face to face or (thankfully) coming back to in-person meetings. If it’s not, then it’s remote/online/via email. To really allow sales and service for banks to be as frictionless as possible, the choice has to be there, and for those higher value, more complex advisory situations, enable the best chance of getting an ‘in-person’ appointment if the customer wants it.

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