Bank of America is to expand its use of videoconferencing to 500 branches across the US, enabling customers to remotely interact with small business bankers, mortgage specialists and financial advisors.
The wider roll-out of Cisco telepresence kit follows a two-year pilot at 85 branches that saw 10,000 conversation take place. The bank has used the recordings from the trials to train its agents in effective broadcasting techniques to help to set customers at their ease.
Rob Auleback, Bank of America's ATM channel and retail distribution executive, says: "Convenient access to help when, where and how a customer needs it is the cornerstone of how we serve our customers. We are able to bring our expertise closer to our customers with face-to-face interaction provided through our partnership with Cisco."
Bank of America has been pruning its branch network and installing more technology to handle routine transactions as customers migrate to electronic channels. The extension of telepresence to 10% of its branches is seen as a cost-effective way of providing customers with specialist advice at locations where declining foot-traffic does not make it economically viable to have a dedicated presence.
Buy-in from onsite staff will be an important element in the success of the project. Late last year the bank faced a protest from counter staff over the roll-out of video teller ATMs, sparking concerns that the machines would replace well-paid branch staff with lower-wage call centre operatives.