Bank of America is adding a new element to 500 of its branches: video teleconferencing that will connect customers with investment, small business and mortgage experts. Although the bank has been trimming its branch network recently, the introduction of the video conferencing capability (in partnership with Cisco) demonstrates the value of the branch as a product marketing and acquisition center, says Tyler Johnson, SVP at Bank of America.
“We’re seeing a change in customer behavior because of technology… transactions and services are moving to other channels. But customers still want to acquire products at the branch. In many cases these are products that need experts to sell them like investment advisors or mortgage brokers,” Johnson shares.
[For More on Video Banking, Check Out: Nationwide Building Society Boosts Mortgage Sales With Video Conferencing]
More than 85% of Bank of America’s product sales still occur in the branch, according to a bank spokesperson.
But in some geographies the demand for those products isn’t high enough thought to warrant putting a specialist in the branch to speak face-to-face with clients. Now clients at those Bank of America branches with lower demand can connect with remote experts through high-definition video, Johnson explains.
“This doesn’t replace the specialist in the branch. It’s about where demand isn’t enough for an on-site specialist,” he notes.
Bank of America is rolling out the solution to about 10% of its branches after a stair-stepped pilot over the last two years, according to Johnson. The bank began testing the solution in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to facilitate meetings for clients with mortgage experts and Merrill Lynch investment advisors.
Although the bank won’t release the results of the pilot, Johnson said that the pilot met its target metrics in customer satisfaction and product sales. The pilot was then extended to different branches in Texas, as Bank of America wanted to validate its results by testing in another market, according to Johnson. After the Texas pilot, the bank made the decision to introduce video conferencing to other geographies.
Right now the bank is offering video conferencing with experts in small business products, mortgages and investment, and could expand the program to other lines of business in the future, Johnson says.
Jonathan Camhi has been an associate editor with Bank Systems & Technology since 2012. He previously worked as a freelance journalist in New York City covering politics, health and immigration, and has a master's degree from the City University of New York's Graduate School ... View Full Bio