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In-Branch Banking Archives - POPi/o

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How to Capture and Service More Profitable Relationships in 2021

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For years, financial institutions have physically modernized their branch environments to direct customers out of transaction teller lines and into new self-service channels like ATMs and banking apps. The shift was designed to allow branch employees to capture and service revenue-producing activities like loans, investments, and business accounts. Some banks and credit unions executed this revenue-focused branch strategy even more efficiently by connecting customers via video to centrally located lending and other product knowledge experts.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered branches in nearly every community across the country and around the world. Without warning, financial institutions were forced to find new ways to capture and service those profitable relationships.

Most had already heavily invested in mobile banking apps, online applications, and highly experienced call center teams. Most thought these digital channels could replicate branch services. Most discovered that wasn’t the case.

POPi/o® experienced exponential growth in 2020, including a 283% increase in call volume. We credit that growth to many of our new clients, using video to fill that in-person service gap. These banks and credit unions didn’t invest in video banking technology as a leap of faith; long before the COVID-19 pandemic, our platform usage data had already revealed that revenue-generating activity represented more than three-fourths of total call volume. The percentage of video banking calls to support new accounts and lending compared to total video calls rose even further in 2020 to 80%.

Our 2020 user data also reveals that as branches have reopened and other delivery channels have improved, video banking usage remains high. In fact, as 2020 came to a close, video banking traffic continued to climb.

For financial institutions seeking additional new account and loan volume, this is great news. Video banking not only replaces branch service in a pinch, but it can also extend the reach of your in-person service to capture and service even more profitable relationships. This centralized operational strategy frees your most talented employees from being confined to a specific geographic location. Video banking allows your best employees to make the biggest impact on your organization, leveraging the efficiency and convenience of digital delivery to generate even more high-touch, revenue-generating activities.

Educators Credit Union is a perfect example of a financial institution that had modernized branches to include centralized lending via video banking but was forced to switch gears quickly when branches closed. Because Educators Credit Union needed to deliver face-to-face service to members quickly, the credit union first deployed video banking to its website, which only required pasting a few lines of code. After some marketing across social media platforms, website video banking traffic grew enough to convince Educators Credit Union that the next step—mobile video banking would be a profitable move.

Educators Credit Union deployed a standalone video banking mobile app, rather than integrating video banking into its existing mobile banking app. Nearly all POPi/o video banking clients deploy mobile video banking this way because it allows for more rapid deployment and provides availability to non-customers to connect for new business. In fact, financial institutions that have launched video banking through existing mobile banking app integrations have often later added a standalone app to capture new business.

Looking for other video banking best implementation practices? Our phenomenal 2020 growth and influx of new institutions live on our platform has provided a treasure chest of tips and strategies for creating and deploying a successful video banking. Download our 2021 Video Banking Implementation Guide here to begin. Then, when you’re ready, click here to talk to an expert.

To learn how POPi/o Video Banking can help your financial institutions maintain relevance and personal service, request a FREE demo.

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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.

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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.

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Four New Service Standards to Keep Your Eye On in 2020

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We all know what the Amazon effect is, right? That’s when your consumers expect you to offer digital service and delivery on par with the $178B retail and tech giant.

That’s why it’s crucial you make the most of every single penny allotted to your 2020 tech budget. It’s not enough to compare your service to the other community FI across town. You need to measure up to the general service standard consumers expect across all industries.

According to consumer service experts, here are four service standards American consumers will expect from all retail firms in 2020.

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Consumer-centric attitude

We’ve all heard the statistics about how it costs five times more to acquire a new consumer than it does to keep an existing one. So if consumers expect Amazonian digital service and experts call for a possible recession in 2020, you’d better believe successful firms will put more emphasis on retaining consumers next year than acquiring new ones.

Those digital channels that make product and service delivery so efficient can be your best friend and worst enemy when it comes to word-of-mouth referrals. How often do you see posts on social media from friends who are delighted with a product or company? Probably just as often as you see posts from those who are furious with poor service and exacting revenge.

Word of mouth has expanded exponentially from yesterday’s one-on-one friendly chats. Your consumers can share their service experience with hundreds or thousands of people (or millions, if it goes viral) just by pressing enter. It only takes one bad experience to wipe out the gains from an entire marketing campaign, which is a sobering thought during budget season.

You absolutely must prioritize providing your existing consumers with the very best service you can provide, whether it’s face-to-face or through digital channels.

Personalized service

If you’re in marketing, you’ve probably already heard of “a market of one.” Your consumers expect you to know which products and services they’re interested in and which ones they aren’t. How in the world can they expect such a thing? Because these days, most people – especially young adults – have a general understanding of big data and how it can be used to personalize the consumer experience. They know that as their financial institution, you have a lot of data at your disposal.

The days of “do you want fries with that” sales pitches are over. Studies have shown that young adults aren’t weirded out seeing auto loan ads pop up in their social media newsfeeds after researching new cars online. In fact, they expect it. They aren’t going to waste their time searching for financial services when your competitors make it so easy they don’t have to.

And even if your credit union or community bank provides a better deal, your consumers will never know about it.

Life moves quickly these days, and consumers don’t have much tolerance for organizations that waste their time. A 2020 budget priority should be providing personalized service that leverages consumer data across multiple touch points that include your website, call center, branches and mobile app.

Secure concierge

Speaking of not wasting consumers’ time, another service expectation in 2020 will be the ability to perform tasks on behalf of consumers. Don’t tell a consumer to go do something when your call center rep or even your systems could do it for them. For example, don’t ask a borrower for a copy of their paystub to verify income if you have been receiving their direct deposit for two years.

Consumers don’t care that your core system lacks functionality or your service reps aren’t authorized to perform the task they need. They just want you to help them be more efficient with their time, and they’ll go somewhere else if you can’t deliver.

Here’s an important part of concierge service that could give your community financial institution an edge over fintechs and big banks: yes, consumers want you to perform tasks for them, but not at the expense of data security. Make sure your systems and workflows are secure so you’re not the subject of the next data breach story in the news.

One and done

Centralizing your operations is a big trend these days, but if you make your consumers wander through the maze of your organization chart to find the right person to solve their problem, you’ll lose them. In fact, consumers today expect firms to resolve questions and issues with just one point of contact and in real time.

That’s one reason why chatbots have been more popular than expected. Spending a few seconds answering some questions that route the caller to the right place is much better than sitting on hold, waiting for help … only to find out they need to be transferred to another department.

While chatbots work well for simple questions and call routing, they don’t replace consumer service with a live person who can provide reassurance and problem solving skills. The key to a successful centralized operations team is both technology and face-to-face consumer service representatives who resolve issues efficiently and effectively.

Service standards are a very important part of your 2020 budget planning, but they aren’t everything. To learn more about the economy, a new operational trend, and how the continued challenge to remain relevant will impact your financial institution, your consumers and your 2020 budget, click here to download our new white paper, “3 trends that will drive your 2020 budget.”