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Have a Problem? Ask an Expert (Even if He, She, or It Is 3,000 Miles Away)

Your smart sprinkler system is happily pumping water to your lawn in highly efficient sprays that are “aware” of the soil, the climate, the weather, the time of day, and even whether or not your kids are playing in the backyard on a Saturday. Suddenly, a faulty valve bursts and an uncontrolled geyser erupts. One part of your property is about to be ruined by flooding while the rest of the lawn is left to yellow in the sun.

You and your family are miles away, yet you know all about it.  Sensors throughout the system alert your smartphone. At the same time, machine-to-machine signals shut down the pumps, and an expert from the sprinkler company is dispatched to your home with the precise replacement part and the real-time knowledge to fix the system.

It’s a great example of how the Internet of Everything (IoE) may soon funnel precise information in real time to the people — or machines — that need it most. Many of these “remote expert“ technologies are either already here or on the horizon.

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The Evolution of Immersive Video in the Retail Bank Branch Series (3): Remote experts in action

July 22, 2013 at 8:45 am PST

In part two of this three-part series detailing the “Evolution of Immersive Video in the Retail Bank Branch,” I looked at Cisco’s Remote Expert Solution more in-depth and discussed how the solution’s contact center enables virtual face-to-face meetings with high-definition video. By offering customers instant access to knowledgeable experts, even when customers are in remote areas, banks can provide personal service resulting in improved customer confidence in the relationship and greater loyalty. Now that we understand how the solution works, I’d like to take a deeper look at the solution in action and discuss how Remote Expert can meet customer needs in three key business areas.

Wealth Management Services

Remote Expert’s video sharing capability allows investment advisors to visually see the customers they are pitching new products and services to and helps them to gauge how to lead the conversation. In some cases, portfolios may be complex, especially when involving trusts, so video adds an additional medium in which to connect with the customer and explain the approach being presented by the wealth advisors. This is something that cannot be accomplished easily over the phone and traditionally has involved air travel to meet the customer in person. For ultra-high-net worth customers (> $2 MM), Remote Expert also provides a way for multiple advisors to join the conversation remotely to guide the client through the estate planning or wealth planning discussion.

Mortgage Sales

Today, there are many mortgage programs and products available. In addition, many state and federal regulations exist as it relates to quoting and working with customers on mortgage programs. Video has been shown to be an effective way to drive additional understanding of those various mortgage products and a way to work with the customer through the pre-approval process and up to the point of underwriting. We are finding that banks are still opting for the traditional in-person closing process, but more and more institutions are experimenting with completing the entire mortgage process using Remote Expert and the available video capabilities it provides. Read More »

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Intelligent Communities Global Blog Series, The Future of Our Smart Communities: Services

One of the great challenges every municipality faces is how to deliver higher quality services to its citizens and businesses while their budgets consistently seem to shrink. Several of Canada’s leading communities are taking a pro-active role and are experimenting with shared services (an outsourcing or regional consolidation model); and almost all of them are looking at the Internet to be a low-cost channel for services delivery. Both these and other strategies are all the right steps towards a smarter and connected reality. Municipal leaders, however, recognized that one can’t quite eliminate the much needed face to face interactions with its constituents while delivering high-touch services–both from a quality and a security perspective.

Surely, the transformation of governmental services can’t be a burden that should solely rest on the shoulders of the municipality, although it is understood that they are the closest connected to the real needs and concerns of citizens and businesses in Canada. But what about the Federal services for which I have to go to Service Canada (I truthfully sat in their waiting room this week for 90 minutes so I could submit paperwork for a passport renewal)? Or Provincial services for which I need to go to Service Ontario? Passports, driver licenses, health cards, marriage certificates…does anyone still know for what to go where? Add to this Canada Post with its 6,500 services outlets. Or the municipal library systems (where there is more than books). And community centers all around the country for outreach and engagement.

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The Evolution of Immersive Video in the Retail Bank Branch Series (2): Bring an expert to any branch

June 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm PST

In the first part of the “Evolution of Immersive Video in the Retail Bank Branch” series, I discussed how the retail banking industry is currently undergoing organizational changes that are affecting customers’ banking experience, including the knowledge and interaction they receive upon entering a bank.

Through these new organizational changes, banks are integrating new technology as part of their business processes to attract the more tech-savvy customers that desire choices and convenience when banking. Through Cisco’s Remote Expert solution, banks can meet these customer needs while making their business processes more cost and time-efficient and improving the customer experience. The Remote Expert solution enables virtual face-to-face meetings with high-definition audio and video.

RE Expert

Through Remote Expert’s integration with Cisco’s contact center, retail banks can leverage their existing database of enterprise-wide, skills-based information on the organization’s experts and make it available to customers at any time during business hours. Remote Expert allows a customer in the branch to find the right banking expert to meet their needs, including inquiries about annuities or questions specific to mortgage brokers.

Not only does Remote Expert enhance the bank’s existing channels and provide convenience for banking customers, it also reduces costs for all parties involved. Read More »

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The Importance of the Omnichannel in Financial Services

Technology has and will continue to be a key enabler across every product delivery channel within the financial services sector. You simply need to explore some of the newer bank branches, available applications within app stores or investigate online innovations inherent in many institutions’ web presence to see how engrained technology has become in the customer experience. While firms are making this transition in differentiated form factors and across different channels, the trend itself is clear and pervasive; underpinned by the “anywhere, anytime” mantra and the continued consumerization of technology.

These channel developments cut across all products, but all have one common element – enabling improved and increased collaboration between institutions, their clients, businesses and/or consumers to drive accretive revenue. While these developments have and will continue to deliver impressive initial returns, they are largely siloed by either a business unit and/or delivery channel. The true potential value can only be unlocked by enabling a seamless and contextual integration of the physical, direct and mobile channels – the evolution from multi-channel to omnichannel.

The omnichannel model enables the customer to choose how and by what method they want to conduct their business, be that in person, via a mobile device, from the home, online or with telephony. Cisco’s IBSG team has published a white paper that looks into the transformation of institutions from multi-channel to omnichannel. While the method of communication is important, the true differentiator in transformational channel evolution is the ability to integrate interaction. Institutions must be aware of the context and outcomes of customer interactions as customers move from channel to channel, product to product, or business line to business line.

From an institutional point of view, the value in the omnichannel impacts multiple factors. Read More »

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