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All Posts By

Jed Taylor

How Video Can Bring Digital Sales To Life

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I’m a big fan of the convenience of digital services, unfortunately, most deployments are targeted to such narrow use cases that it doesn’t address most consumer’s needs. This is especially the case for more complex financial service products. It shouldn’t be that difficult, right? Consumers should just go to the FI’s website, find the products they want and “sign-up”, or in the model of Amazon, add the product to their “online shopping cart”.  Yet as branch traffic dwindles and digital adoption grows financial institutions are finding that their “online shopping cart” abandonment rates remain sky-high.

According to research by UK-based behavioral marketing company SaleCycle, the financial sector has the highest global online shopping cart abandonment rate at 83.6%. The overall average for all sectors wasn’t much better at 75.6%.

Why so high? In general, digital channels are a one-way experience. Closing a sale has traditionally been a five-step process that requires two-way communication, which is missing in digital sales interactions.

Below are the five most common sales steps:

  1. Introduction
  2. Discovery
  3. Offer
  4. Objections
  5. Close

Research shows a variety of reasons online carts are abandoned; however, they all have one thing in common, a stalled sales process. But Video Banking can help since it provides a customer experience that combines two-way, face-to-face service with the convenience, security, and efficiency expected with digital interactions. When Video Banking is leveraged to its full potential it can become the ultimate sales channel, providing financial institutions the ability to take a customer through all five sales steps in just one call.

Let’s examine how Video Banking supports these five sales steps.

Introduction

For institutions focused on increasing wallet share, the introduction and rapport building stage are already occurring while providing service to existing customers. Video banking provides an ideal channel to discuss complex transactions, solve problems, and ultimately builds rapport that leads to additional sales. Video banking helps build trust quickly with prospective and new customers in the moment of need when facing major life events.  Our customers expressed the value of providing an empathic face with video while discussing consumer loan modifications and payment plans during the recent branch closures.

Discovery

Video banking allows your customer service representative (CSR) to initiate conversations that reveal unmet financial needs, which is the purpose of the discovery step. Customized digital sales pages backed by data and artificial intelligence (AI) can perform better than general digital sales tools, but only a live CSR can listen to the customer’s needs and effectively tailor their sales pitch or presentation accordingly.

Offer

No matter how well you craft an online offer and sales page, it will never compare to a well delivered presentation by an experienced CSR. Video banking can integrate professional presentation tools that add consistency and polish to your message. And, a two-way conversation during the offer step allows CSR’s to confirm that they are matching the customer’s needs with the right features and benefits of your product.

Objections

Handling objections is where two-way communication truly shines. Data and AI can anticipate which objections a digital customer may have, but video banking has a definite advantage with two-way communication that effectively identifies objections and provides the opportunity to answer questions. Additional POPi/o tools like dynamic call routing, warm transfers make accessing the right experts easy.  Plus our Positivity Coach feature allows the CSR to monitor the consumer’s reaction and adjust if emotions indicate some fear or trepidation.

Close

The most important step in making a sale is asking for the business and closing the deal. However, even expertly optimized digital sales pages convert just 20% of leads. That’s because the close step can only be completed if the previous four steps were successful. Your seasoned CSRs knows when all questions and objections have been addressed and when the time is right to close the deal..  With this step, it’s essential that Video Banking tools include workflow abilities like E-sign, document exchange, and screen share, to allow for the product purchase to be finalized before the video chat ends.

Introducing POPwelcome

It’s the extra tools and system integrations that make the POPi/o Video Banking app so robust and successful. However, not all customers have downloaded the app onto their mobile devices. For customers that are browsing an FI’s webpage, your representatives can now use POPi/o’s new POPWelcome for online or mobile chat messaging, providing a truly omnichannel experience by seamlessly transitioning the customer from text chat to video banking.

Personalized service sets community financial institutions apart from national and global competitors. However, without sales, no company can prosper and grow. No matter the size of your institution, you must provide your sales team with technology that allows them to provide the best of digital and face-to-face service, without any disruption to the five-step sales process. Video banking can provide that experience. To learn more about how quickly and effectively POPi/o Video Banking can boost your digital sales conversions, request a free demonstration with a video representative.

For more information about video banking, request a free demonstration.

Easy Social Distancing Ideas When Branch Lobbies Re-open

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Digital service providers are reporting explosive increases in user data over the past two months as shelter-in-place orders have forced consumers to go digital. Attitudes toward digital have seemingly changed overnight – what was once a user experience enhancement is now literally an essential service channel.

The term disruption had run its course before COVID-19, but this largely unexpected even is just that, a major disruption for nearly every sector. Now that we’re about three months into this global pandemic, financial institutions are no longer wondering if, but how much COVID-19 will change the way they deliver products and services.

The answer could mean shuttering even more branches and once again rethinking branch strategy. Consider this: increased digital adoption won’t be the only drain on branch traffic. Experts say the stay-at-home environment could be a way of life for a long time. Certain groups of people, including retirees, those with compromised immune systems, and those fearful of infectious disease may forever avoid in-person interactions.

There’s more. Experts say social distancing could be required by authorities well beyond 2020.

As long as someone in the world has COVID-19 and there is no vaccine or herd immunity, breakouts can and will keep recurring without stringent controls, wrote MIT Technology Review Editor-in-Chief Gideon Lichfield. Even if social distancing measures are only put into place every time ICU admissions begin to spike, research models predict that strategy would still require a schedule of roughly two months under quarantine and one-off.

Harvard disease experts agree, saying that some form of intermittent social distancing may need to be in place until 2022 and possibly longer.

Social distancing is beginning to be referred to as physical distancing, which is a more accurate description. Despite being physically separated by quarantine, people have still found ways to be social. Neighbors have entertained each other around the world with balcony musical performances. Friends and family have honored graduates and birthdays with car parades. We’ve turned video conferencing into virtual happy hours that even have their own signature drink, the Quarantini.

Those under COVID-19 quarantine have shown that while they are willing to adhere to physical distancing, they still require face-to-face contact, even if it’s via video. To maintain brand loyalty, financial institutions will need to find ways to provide that level of human service. Many of them will have to find ways to make branching work despite the challenges, which will likely include the need to keep everyone at least six feet away from each other, limiting people in the branch at one time and increased personal hygiene and cleaning standards.

The solution lies in using technology in new, creative ways to provide meaningful social interaction, just as parents have created virtual graduation and birthday parties for their children. We’ve seen credit unions and banks integrate video banking like POPi/o into their branches in creative ways that provide a superior user experience while also supporting the institution’s bottom line.

For example, one financial institution completely centralized its lending operations, even going as far as to restructure branch employee incentives to guarantee their support of video banking in lending. To ensure privacy, an office in each branch was reserved exclusively for video banking sessions. This institution already had a pandemic-friendly branch strategy that minimizes employee exposure and maintains excellent physical distancing between two groups of customers: those completing transactions and borrowers.

Another video banking institution has closed its branches to walk-up traffic, performing only select services for customers by appointment only. However, it had already installed personal video teller machines outside of the lobby, providing an on-demand way to accept check and cash deposits, make cash withdrawals, and, if needed, connect to a live video teller who can perform more robust transactions and problem-solving. Time will tell if this strategy will work long term, but because video tellers had already been integrated into the branch strategy – even if only intended to extend service hours, not perform essential services during a national emergency – this financial institution didn’t skip a beat providing full branch service while being a good corporate citizen.

Are you frustrated with what seems like no-win options to adjust your branching strategy to physical distancing and other measures that will keep your employees and customers safe? Let POPi/o help you brainstorm ways your financial institution can use video banking to quickly and effectively meet the needs of your customers and your bottom line.

How COVID-19 Could Change Banking Forever

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Throughout history, major events have created permanent, unexpected shifts in human behavior. People have been forced into lockdown to stop the spread of disease before; the long-term psychological effects of those quarantines have been studied, so we have some idea of what to expect. However, the length and global reach of this isolation are unmatched, and there is no doubt this traumatic event will produce permanent changes. 

Here are three impacts of COVID-19 and their respective long-term outcome for community banks and credit unions.

Fear of public gatherings

After this pandemic has long passed, a generational shift will produce new preferences when it comes to public gatherings and face-to-face interactions.  Following previous outbreaks in Asia, face masks became a normal and expected day-to-day accessory. With the fear of contagions and mandatory stay-at-home orders, people are becoming more comfortable replacing physical interactions with digital visits.  The long-term shift will come as many start preferring it as a way to manage lingering fears of contracting a fatal disease. Perhaps you’ve already seen this fear play out on social media in emotional debates about whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine is required before reinstating sporting events, concerts, and other large public gatherings. In particular, subsets of the general population who are concerned about germs will be more sensitive to the risks involved. 

The effect on FIs: Traffic at branches has been decreasing for years; however, fear combined with increased digital channel adoption will send this trend into overdrive. After all, it’s mostly older consumers who still use branches, and this age group will be understandably shaken by losing friends to COVID-19. However, older generations also value face-to-face service and prefer doing business with specific employees. Not only will video banking fill that service gap for this market, but adoption will also be easier than ever because so many grandparents have been using video to communicate with family during the quarantine. 

We’ve said for years that consumers want to choose how they engage with their FI. If they can do it all digitally, more power to them. But in tumultuous times like now, people need more help from real people. Maybe they can’t pay their existing monthly loan payment due to reduced hours. Do they refinance the existing loan? Roll it into a HELOC? Find another solution? To solve this problem, they need a financial counselor, and that’s something credit unions and community banks can and should offer. Video banking supports that consultative relationship while still protecting the consumer and employees.

Economic shifts

I’m confident that the stock market and U.S. economy will survive and continue to lead the world; however, segments of the economy already affected by quarantine orders may not completely recover. Small restaurants, travel industries, commercial real estate, and auto industries are all likely to face a protracted slowdown. 

The effect on FIs: Financial institutions that serve these industries will suffer resultant impacts on their businesses as well.  Although markets shift and change every day, this change is so drastic and unexpected, we may see some financial institutions fail or merge for survival similar to the mortgage meltdown in the late 2000s.  Those looking to thrive must find ways to economically provide their services. Again, we see video banking as a possible solution for cost-conscious service delivery. 

Work from home

Now that a majority of U.S. workers are gaining remote work experience, a return to the office will be a tough sell. Let’s start with the dress code: sales figures from Walmart that report the chain selling out of tops but not pants. Americans have happily embraced new workplace standards that only require professionalism from the waist up and allow for interruptions from children during meetings.

The effect on FIs: Like everyone else in America, financial services employees will want to continue to work from home. Working from home and the schedule flexibility it will bring could create the need for, and ability to offer, longer service hours. While that might be possible from a technology standpoint, security will be an issue for FIs, because video conferencing apps like Zoom they weren’t built to handle secure financial information and workflows. We’ve helped our customers use the POPi/o platform to not only serve customers securely but also support employees who must now work from home and handle sensitive consumer information. 

Change isn’t easy for anyone.  Big external events (like a global pandemic) create new circumstances and could be the stimulus for permanent change.  Good luck to you and your financial institution as you navigate the new normal post-Covid-19.

Video Banking Protects Employees and Consumers

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POPi/o Covid-19 Response

As I write this, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. has risen to 6,574, and that number is sure to rise by the time you are reading this. Every state in the union has announced positive cases of Covid-19 and most have declared mandatory shelter in place orders. The financial markets have continued to tumble throughout the month of March and the Federal Reserve Board announced its first emergency rate cut since the 2008 financial crisis.

The fatality rate for Covid-19 isn’t as high as other viruses, but what seems to make Covid-19 frightening is how contagious it seems to be. Evidence that Covid-19 is more contagious than estimated lies in the numbers: the virus has reached 210 countries on six continents in a matter of weeks, and many of the infected report no contact with anyone known to be exposed to the virus.

At a time like this, how does a Financial Institution protect their staff and consumers? Most FI’s are choosing to close branches. During the month of March, I talked to hundreds of FI’s. In those meetings, I learned that most branch lobbies remained open on March 16th, but by the end of that week and early into the following week, the majority of branch lobbies had closed or restricted their access.

With this restricted access to physical locations, how can FI’s maintain business continuity? Amid the fear, there is some positive news: today’s technology allows financial institutions to provide essential services much easier than during previous pandemics. During the SARS outbreak of 2002, when most financial institutions last updated their business continuity plans, customers utilized call centers, ATMs and online banking services. These days, technology has enabled several additional tools such as mobile banking, mobile check deposit, video teller machines (ITMs), and video banking tools.

This transition to new technologies is happening already. Within 10 days of Covid-19 hitting the U.S. shores, our video banking company, POPi/o, saw video call volume jump 50%. We also saw a rapid shift from our in-branch video call volume to mobile and web video calls. Other financial services providers report digital channel traffic over the last few months to be equal to traffic during all of 2019. We expect traffic to continue growing.

During this pandemic, consumers need access to your FI resources more now than ever. Whether they need to discuss loan modifications or to apply for the government’s payroll protection program, consumer needs are just as high as their anxieties. Video Banking tools can assist financial institutions when they are forced to close branches, or when consumers are unable to leave their homes. FI’s can now deliver teller services from Interactive Teller Machines and with POPi/o Video Banking offer in-depth banking consultations and account services. Today’s Video banking is far more robust than basic communication via phone or video conferencing and allows for new accounts, loan origination, funding new accounts, exchanging documents, signing applications, and any number of account servicing needs.

Before today’s recent events, many of our credit union and bank clients have found POPi/o video banking to be useful in assisting customers who are homebound due to age, illness or disability. Others used it to assist professionals in medical, military or other circumstances that didn’t allow for quick trips to a branch. Now we see personal branch services being delivered to consumers in self-isolation, oftentimes with the staff member safely working from home.

If your credit union or bank is reviewing their business continuity plan and looking for additional ways to provide essential services using digital channels, request a demonstration or give us a call. We’d be glad to discuss how video banking can become an integral part of pandemic mitigation that protects your staff and consumers. Until then, stay safe, and healthy.

Centralizing Lending Delights Consumers and Lenders

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Only 26% of consumers prefer to conduct their financial business in a branch, according to a new study from global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. That’s down from 38% in 2016.

This change in consumer behavior fueled an all-time record of nearly 2,000 branches closed in 2018, according to S&P Global.

Don’t assume this trend is only being driven by routine transactions. Lending is also experiencing a service shift, moving from loan officers in every branch to a focused, centralized effort. And we’re not just talking about credit card applications. Even mortgage lenders are centralizing their operations.

Last fall, the $123 billion BMO Harris Bank eliminated most of its branch mortgage officer positions and now sends borrowers to a centralized mortgage call center and an online mortgage application platform.

Bankrate.com Chief Financial Analyst Greg McBride said mortgage loan officers simply aren’t being utilized in branches anymore. However, digital doesn’t necessarily mean an entirely online experience.

“The use of call centers or video conferencing centralizes the taking of applications and provides a human interaction in a more efficient manner than stationing someone in a branch,” he added.

That human interaction is key to a successful centralized lending effort. Loan officers are located in an efficient, single location, but are available to borrowers via phone or video. Consumers usually have the option to call in from home, work or while traveling … and, just in case a consumer visits a branch to apply for a loan, most financial institutions also offer video access from the branch, too.

Video-based lending teams also close the gap when it comes to online lending attrition rates. Community financial institutions have invested significant capital in online self-service account opening and loan application tools, only to be disappointed that 80% or more of applicants abandon the cart. Video Banking provides the engagement needed to identify a borrower who is struggling with the application process to assist them immediately with a click of a button…

Centralized lending also allows financial institutions to select the best employees for the job – those whose skill sets focus on the drive to sell and grow, rather than task-oriented branch responsibilities.

The more lenders can focus on just lending, the more skilled they become. Think about it – it’s difficult to be consistent when you only do something a couple of times a week. Due to low volume, in-branch lenders don’t have an opportunity to complete a variety of loans on a regular basis, which can sometimes lead to costly mistakes. A centralized team with higher volumes improves consistency, makes training easier, and allows for easier goal and improvement tracking.

Not only are loan officers more focused on their jobs, in many cases centralizing lending operations allows them to sit close to their underwriting and processing teams. Not only does this improve efficiency that allows for loan decisioning within 30 minutes or less, but it also provides a culture in which the entire team works together to achieve organizational loan growth goals.

FIs that have centralized their lending operations have the numbers to back up that concept. For example, one credit union on the east coast saw a huge productivity boost after centralizing its lending operations, seeing an average loan volume per employee increase by 80%. Brett Christensen of CU Lending Advice has been touting the benefits of centralized lending for a few years. In one of his recent presentations, he said a credit union in Texas centralized lending and in one month one of their centralized lenders sold 143 GAP policies, 47 extended warranties and funded $3.7M in new loans.

The entire organization is more efficient across the board, too. Centralized lending allows staffing decisions to be based on overall loan volume, not geography. The $730 million Tropical Financial Credit Union in Miramar, Florida, reduced its front-line lending staff by 77%, from 19 employees spread out across their branch network to just 9 centralized and highly productive staff.

POPi/o is a perfect system to build a successful centralized lending strategy because it provides face-to-face video interaction at the borrower’s convenience and it was created to support lending workflows. For example, POPi/o collaboration tools provide the ability for loan officers to educate consumers on their loan choices with screen sharing, slide sharing, and other engaging tech tools. Once a product selection has been made, the consumer can provide their photo ID, proof of income and other necessities, then review and sign the loan application in just one video chat session.

If you are interested in learning more about how POPi/o can help support your centralized lending strategy, please contact us for a POPi/o demo at www.POPio.com.