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Connecting Experts to Customers with Omnichannel Delivery

Are you familiar with the bank of yesterday? One where trying to meet with an expert can translate into being required to travel across town or deal with lengthy wait times and lines? Where it can take days and even weeks to receive and sign documents to close a mortgage or open a new account? And yet many other aspects of your life can be addressed from the privacy and security of your home, at a time that is convenient to you.

I suspect many have encountered these or similar frustrations while attempting to gain valuable advice and support from a financial expert at a bank. However, these are becoming issues of the past thanks to the emergence of the omnichannel banking model.

The bank of now is here. Customers may make their own choice of when, where, and how they want financial service interaction. The omnichannel model orients the bank to focus on the customer, independent of product or geography, enabling customers to connect with the right expert at the right time at their preferred channel. One key to executing this strategy is recognition that a bank has to go beyond yesterday’s multi-channel integration by leveraging technology to virtually connect customers with the people who are best suited to address their needs. To get started down the omnichannel path, Read More »

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Next Generation Wealth Management: Mobile Technology Enhances the Customer Experience

The wealth management industry is under transformation. In an effort to win back trust, attract new customers and retain existing ones, firms are investing in new collaborative technologies that support their business model transformation from transactions to interactions focused on client centricity. IBSG Figure 4 GraphVarious McKinsey research and studies have shown that those who adopt more client-centric tools and processes can increase revenues up to 20 percent and profitability up to 2.5 times. Cisco’s own research has shown that wealth management firms that adopt client centric tools such as video can reduce client attrition, especially for the critical under-55 segment. Part of this transformation involves investing in video capabilities that enable firms and their experts to touch more customers, more often and in a more intimate manner than voice and email do today.

Getting the right expert to the right customer, at the right time is crucial in being able to offer superior customer service and improve cross-sell and up-sell rates. Another critical, competitive differentiator is embedding video capabilities into the mobile channels and applications customers already use. Read More »

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Reinventing Wealth Management with Technology-Enabled Video Services

The wealth management industry continues to face many challenges as it recovers from the financial crises of the past few years. And while financial markets have recovered most of their losses since 2008, investor confidence has not yet returned and volatility remains high.

Against this backdrop, investors now have access to a wide variety of investment information online, including analyst research, detailed company and sector financial reports, and data visualization tools previously available only to financial advisers. The combination of poor market performance, availability of information, and low-cost business models that put the investor in control are calling into question the fundamental value proposition of wealth management firms and their financial advisers.

To better understand the mind-set of wealthy investors, we conducted our first wealth management survey in January 2011. An important finding was uncovering a relatively young wealthy investor group we called “Wealthy Under-50s.”

As we shared the findings with our customers, new questions arose including:

  •  Is there a desire for technology-enabled interactions among younger wealthy investors?
  • Given that many clients value face-to-face meetings with their advisers, how often would they use a high-quality video option?
  • Is there a “right way” to deploy technology-enabled services and capabilities?
  • Would video services convince wealthy investors with no adviser to hire one?
  • What are the main barriers to the adoption of technology-enabled services?

To answer these questions and provide additional insights about wealthy investors, we conducted our second survey 18 months later, in April 2012.  The findings show rapidly shifting attitudes about wealth management and technology-enabled services. Specifically, we found:

  • After only 18 months, the behaviors and attitudes of the Under-50s in the first survey now extend up to age 55 (“Wealthy Under-55s”).
  • Although Wealthy Under-55s meet more often with their financial advisers, they are less satisfied with those interactions than older investors.
  • Wealthy Under-55s want more personalized investment recommendations, access to more diverse opinions and expertise, and more frequent access to their financial advisers than they currently receive.
  • Wealthy Under-55s believe that technology-enabled services that feature video-enabled access to financial advisers would provide them with better advice and more satisfying interactions than they receive right now.
  • Wealthy Under-55s are much more willing to change advisers.  Twenty-percent of them indicated they were likely to change their primary adviser in the next year, compared to only 4 percent of investors over the age of 55.

And perhaps most important for financial services firms looking to capture a share of this market, Wealthy Under-55s are willing to move at least some of their assets to firms that provide these services (57 percent in the United States, 54 percent in Germany, and 51 percent in the United Kingdom). Read More »

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What’s on the Minds of Financial Services CIOs?

Earlier this week, I participated in the Financial Services CIO Summit, which brought together CIOs and other senior technology business leaders from global as well as regional financial services institutions to share insights on the industry’s evolution. The dialogue was rich, compelling, and creative. The leaders grasp the challenges before them and see solution pathways that will help their banks capture new opportunities. So what was on their minds?

Four main forces are driving change in the banking industry: 1) rapid technology development that is providing a new business reality; 2) increasing customer demands that require banks to rethink how they have historically approached customers; 3) heightened competition, not just among financial institutions, but from companies outside their industry; and 4) burgeoning regulation that will require banks to track and store data disseminated to customers, including text messages, emails, and other interactive forms of digital information.

Overwhelmingly, the CIOs agreed that their challenges are not about technology per se; they have a plethora of technology choices. Instead, the main challenge is how to apply technology to maximize business benefits. The role of the CIO is no longer to serve primarily as a transactional technology guru. Management now expects CIOs to identify business problems and apply the right technologies to drive new business and serve customers better—while at the same time helping the bank become more productive and cost efficient.

One of CIOs’ biggest challenges is serving new customer segments with tailored approaches. Banks want to appeal to the younger generation of customers in a more differentiated and adaptive way. Gen Y consumers expect banks to use the web, social media, interactive games, and ubiquitous mobility in their customer interactions. CIO Summit attendees agreed that they need to create greater brand presence in social media circles to stimulate conversations with this key customer segment regarding home ownership, retirement savings, and other personal finance issues.

For high-net-worth clients, CIO Summit attendees pondered two “virtual expert” scenarios based on two-way high-definition video: (1) utilizing virtual advisers in wealth management branches to broaden availability of subject-matter expertise; and (2) home-based solutions that enable clients to reach their financial advisers when it is most convenient.

The CIO Summit offered a glimpse at several great opportunities. To capture them, I think CIOs should consider three steps: 1) conduct research and analysis to identify and prioritize strategic options; 2) define the appropriate business architecture (business strategy, people, processes, and organizational structure); and 3) create the technology architecture that enables successful implementation.

Financial services CIOs face some interesting battles. However, they now have the opportunity to become even more business-critical to their organizations than ever before.

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The Case for Increasing Branch Staffing Levels

I have to admit it, when I walk into a hardware store I usually need help. And I ask for it. If help isn’t readily available, I go searching for it, and I usually get frustrated when help is not readily available. So, what’s your threshold for finding help when your money is involved?

Research has shown that 70 percent of banking consumers will leave a bank branch and not return if they ask for help and it is not readily available. It’s called revenue leakage. If I don’t get help in the hardware store and get miffed, it’s inconvenient to drive to another store miles away. So, I’ll take the time to hunt down a person in that bright colored apron. But banking is different. With competitor bank branches in close proximity (or just a URL away), a miffed consumer simply needs to walk down the across the street or click to a different website. Help is moments away.

What happens when your customers request help on a specific financial product or service?  Can you fulfill every mortgage, wealth management, small business lending request at every branch?  Not in every branch. Do consumers expect this expertise in every branch? Yes.  And they expect fast, personalized service.

Do banks want to fulfill every new product or service request at every branch….or channel?  Of course, it part of building loyalty, building wallet-share, being a trusted advisor and, stopping revenue leakage.   

Can banks afford to staff up every branch to deliver this level of service?  Yes they can! But not in the traditional sense. Yes, by providing the customer with the right expert quickly and engaging with that expert eye-to-eye.

 I’d venture to say, there is a 8 to 10 minute threshold from when the customer walks into the branch and an appropriate bank expert engages the customer. To meet this threshold, banks are leveraging technology to provide a remote expert using high quality video and audio to connect the customer with the expert and begin understanding and fulfilling the customer’s request.  

The ability to dynamically find the right expert is key. And so is delivering the right experience with the remote expert. Customers visit the branch to talk and meet with people. Using high quality video and audio delivers the “in the same room” experience and the eye contact necessary for establishing and building trust. The ability to explore what-if scenarios on-screen and deliver documents for signature, accelerate the sales and decision process. Citizens Financial Group, Inc. is delivering this capability today in branches within four retail markets with a focus on mortgage and wealth management product and services.

Increase your branch staffing levels ? Yes, but do it without increasing branch headcount.

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