Ian Rutherford Nov 24, 2015

Improving branch effectiveness in a digitized world

The digitization of retail banking has changed consumer expectations in terms of their relationships with their bank and preferred channels for conducting banking transactions. Many consumers today primarily manage their accounts online or through their mobile device. Nearly a third of consumers report never visiting a bank branch in the last six months; 58% of those under 30 haven’t visited a branch in the last 30 days.

However, even the most digital-savvy consumers still prefer to visit a bank branch and speak to an advisor when it comes to more complex services, such as applying for a mortgage. Even in today’s digital world, consumers want the option to walk into their bank branch and receive expert, personalized advice. So how can retail banks provide both a highly digitized banking experience as well as personalized in-branch experiences?

By leveraging Internet of Everything (IoE) enabled technologies, processes and services, retail banks can provide customers the best of both worlds: the convenience of anytime, anywhere digital services through any channel, while also providing in-person, expert advice in the branch when consumers desire it. Leading retail banks are employing technologies such as video collaboration and advanced analytics to help modernize their branch locations in a more digitized world and exceed consumer expectations. 

Video collaboration. One of the technologies retail banks are deploying to help digitize their branch locations is an immersive, tele-presence video experience with built-in collaboration capabilities. This is much more than just a point-to-point video chat solution. When done right, a video collaboration should be fully integrated into the bank’s back-end technology platforms and processes, including the contact center platform. This enables the bank to manage the customer video queue with the same application used to manage a call center queue. It also enables the bank to provide a seamless, personalized experience for the customer across all communication channels.

For example, a customer might start a mortgage application online but then abandon the process. The next day they walk into a branch location. Using mobile data, the bank branch can instantly recognize the customer and pick up where they left off in the application process. If a mortgage loan officer is not available in the branch at that moment, the customer can use the in-branch video collaboration technology to speak with a remote expert. With a fully integrated system, the remote loan officer has full access to the customer’s history and financial accounts, including the status of the application they previously started online.

A successful video collaboration platform should be completely immersive, matching the look and feel of the bank’s typical in-branch customer experience, and it should provide all the functionality that the customer needs to complete the entire transaction without leaving the channel. This includes the ability to scan documents, submit IDs and documentation online and capture e-signatures all within the video session. On the other end, the mortgage loan officer should have the ability to accept, sign and approve documentation in real-time, receive it in whatever combination of paper or digital format they desire and see the client’s documentation with second screen viewing while they’re conducting the conversation.

By providing all the functionality necessary to complete the transaction in the moment, loan officers are better able to close the offer and increase sales by not having the client leave the video session.

Personalized analytics. The key to getting the most value from the collaboration technologies described above lies in a comprehensive analytics solution that can help management derive valuable insights from the data being generated. Using real-time analytics, banks can improve the customer experience in-the-moment by ensuring that representatives have the relevant information and context they need to provide personalized service to each client.

For example, with real-time analytics, a supervisor can see if a client call with a customer applying for a mortgage is taking too long and intervene to see if either the customer or the representative needs additional help to move the process along faster. Analytics can also be used after the client interaction to ensure compliance with industry regulations, perform quality assurance or determine if processes need to be modified.

Lastly, analytics can also help guide management decisions for future distribution models or product and service offerings. For example, managers can use analytics to make sure they’re matching the right advisors with each client based on the client’s age, language preferences, socio-economic profile or other attributes. Banks can also use analytics to evaluate the performance of branch locations or identify geographies where it would be profitable to open a pop-up bank rather than a physical branch.

The branch experience. Today’s banking market is saturated with options and consumers are increasingly choosing their preferred financial institution based on the quality of experience and personalized interaction they have with that institution. With fewer people walking into the branch, banks must view every customer visit as a golden opportunity that can’t be lost.

For example, if a customer walks into a branch to seek advice for a complex transaction such as a home loan and there is no qualified officer available immediately, the customer will walk out and the window of opportunity closes instantly. With immersive video collaboration platforms and analytics integrated throughout their branches, customer care and back-end systems, banks can centralize and digitally enable complex transactions and provide the personalized, face-to-face interaction the customer desires, any time they walk into the branch.

The benefits of digitizing the branch experience can be tremendous for banks. For example, Nationwide Building Society, the UK’s largest mortgage provider, has realized sales growth of 66% along with double-digit growth in customer satisfaction ratings. Scale pilots in the U.S. market have registered up to 50% increases in referrals and sales growth of more than 29% for mortgages over traditional phone contact center channels. Implementing concepts such as virtual mortgage advice through video collaboration can reduce cost-to-originate by 15% to 20%.

By digitizing the delivery of in-branch advice and supporting those interactions with analytics, retail banks can provide the personalized advice and seamless experience that clients desire, while overcoming the challenges branches face in an increasingly digital world.

Mr. Rutherford is vice president, Cisco Consulting Services, Financial Services, for San Jose, Calif.-based Cisco Systems Inc. He can be reached at irutherf@cisco.com.  

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