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Banks need to rethink telepresence approach

August 28, 2013 | Telepresence Options

call center videoconferencing

Story and images by John Ginovsky / ABA Banking Journal

Telepresence holds great promise for retail banking, but most early-movers are missing the boat, says Celent. Rather than reinventing the teller experience, banks should pursue video banking as an omnichannel mechanism to improve customer engagement.

"There are several reasons for banks to explore video banking" says Bob Meara, senior analyst with Celent's Banking Group and author of the report. "The most compelling reason is customer engagement, not cost savings. Banks have relied almost exclusively on the branch channel for customer engagement and embraced digital channels merely for low-cost transactions. That model no longer works."

Real-time video (or telepresence) was once a novelty requiring expensive equipment and high bandwidth data connections. Now, a majority of young and middle aged adults use video chat on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. Consumers' increasing use of telepresence creates both challenge and opportunity for banks.

Key findings of the report:

  • Customer engagement is the lifeblood of retail banking, but it comes at a cost. Historically, banks have relied upon the branch channel (and the call center to a significantly lesser extent) to engage customers and deliver much-needed sales results.
  • Meanwhile, digital channels, although growing rapidly, were thought to be the domain of low-value, low-cost transactions and little else. This model no longer works for at least two reasons: (1) Branch foot traffic is declining. No matter how well banks delight branch goers, they are becoming the minority. Banks must learn how to engage customers digitally, while making the branch channel more efficient and effective. (2) Customer expectations are growing. The 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. branch model is inadequate. Banks willing to delight customers with extraordinary convenience and quality engagement will win customer loyalty.

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