When Online Chat is just not enough

January 25, 2016 - 2 Comments

I’ve been using online banking for a while now. Just the other day, I had a quick question and saw “Chat Live with a representative” so I decided try it out. As I got comfortable asking a few questions, I started to want to do more. I wanted to talk with the banker. And I’d like the banker to look at my account page with me so I knew we were looking at the same information. It would have helped if I could see the banker and have her give me on-screen guidance.

In a recent report, Alyson Clarke from Forrester interviewed a number of financial institutions that have been using various channels to communicate with their customers from online chat to video. The report revealed that while online chat can be a great way to offer live help, the experience is probably better suited to simple situations.

Apple’s FaceTime has made video communications convenient and simple to use. Video technology has dramatically improved; so it’s time for financial institutions to move beyond chat and offer video banking, true video banking.


What I mean by true video banking is not only the ability to see banker on video but also having the ability to view and share documents, jointly view calculators, complete forms, and much more, almost like a face-to-face meeting, any time, any where. Just having easy video is not enough.

There are a number of advantages with offering a rich, collaborative video banking experience. First, the customer does not need to switch channels when they want human assistance. In my case, I went from lounging on the couch with my tablet to moving to a phone, which was in my home office, when I should be able to go from chat to talk to video banking right from the tablet.  As a consumer, I don’t know or care that I am “crossing channels” when I am going from browser to chat to video enabled contact center. Second, co-browsing allows the advisor and customer to view and interact within the same web page. I can show the advisor what I’m questioning. Third, video banking enables customers to interact as if they were face-to-face with an expert. If the live chat representative saw me, they would have seen frustration on my face and would have been able to work quickly to correct the situation the first time.

Finally, instead of sending the customers back to complete lengthy and complicated application forms, the advisor can fill the online application form on-screen for the customer, to deliver everything, including a signature and saving both the bank and customer a lot of time.

Video banking technology has matured and customers like me are ready to go beyond just chat. In this era of digital disruption, financial services firms must deliver a rich collaboration experience that improve customer experience, loyalty and most importantly, sales. What’s been your experience with online banking? Feel free to share your comments with me below.


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  1. Your headline caught my attention because I am personally a huge fan and advocate for live chat. So, the headline caught my attention and i fully expected to disagree with the post but i found myself agreeing with every point you made.

    Live chat is great … If used for simple situations. As a consumer, when I think live chat, i think more for an ecommerce retailer or someone selling me something. I would never live chat with the bank.

    But if video banking existed, i’d never go into a bank again. Everything you described from talking to being able to jointly fill in forms makes the banking process much easier and enjoyable for customers.

    I’m sure (I hope) that all major banks will have some form of video banking available to their customers within the next 2 years.

    Thanks for the good read.

    • Jason R., thanks for your comments. I am a fan of online chat but don’t have the patience to stare at a screen waiting for a reply. When that happens, I leave the page and move on to something else. In this age of digital business, I wonder when my bank will transform to give me that instant response I expect. I’ll be on the lookout for that.

      Will video banking reduce the number of branch visits? Branch transformation in the age of digital business—that’s a whole other, but related, area that I will blog about in the near future.