BluCurrent Credit Union, a small financial institution in Springfield, Missouri, added video bankers at its three branches a couple of years ago. "We thought maybe some of the older members might resist it, but people Skype with their grandkids and they're more comfortable with technology today," said Derek Williams, BluCurrent’s COO. The video feature has garnered a 4.5 rating out of a maximum of 5.0 in its member survey, he added.
"Nationally, we know branch traffic is declining across the industry," Williams said. "We love it when people come to visit us, but we know they can’t always, or don't want to, so we want to try and serve them where they are.”
Video offers both expanded customer service capabilities and potential cost savings. These advantages include:
- Serving customers outside a bank’s traditional geographic footprint;
- Providing live access to specialists in central locations;
- Reducing staffing at the branch level;
- Authenticating the customer, possibly with biometrics; and
- Helping to level the playing field for small banks.
"It does have that engagement aspect; when people are making large financial decisions, they usually prefer to look at someone in the eyes. I think if video does take hold, it will more so in this regard, to connect with customers remotely."
Since small institutions have equally small technology budgets, new tech efforts must deliver results. "This is a case where a small institution is using it in a meaningful way," said Mark Schwanhausser, director of omnichannel financial services at Javelin Strategy & Research. "I think overall, you'll see banks start to roll out more video capabilities; it won't be sweeping the nation in the next couple of years, but there will be movement."