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The video banking dilemma: to centralize or to decentralize?

If you’re looking to start rolling out video banking, there are 2 possible strategies to adopt: you can take a centralized or decentralized approach. But which strategy best fits your business goals? What are the benefits of the centralized and decentralized approach? And can you combine the two? Find out in this strategic guide.

1. Why CX video calling?
2. Implementing video banking centrally or decentrally
3. Reasons to centralize
4. Reasons to decentralize
5. A hybrid model
6. Implementing the hybdrid model
7. Finding a strategy that fits
8. How Rabobank scaled video banking to 3000+ branch agents

Download Rabo case-CTA blog

Why make CX video calling part of your digital transformation strategy?

Even since before the COVID-19 pandemic, banks have been under a lot of pressure to strive for efficiency. Branches were closing and workflows were being digitized. At the same time, customers are now showing new behaviors: they are still looking for personal contact, even as customer interaction is moving away from physical branches to online communication.

Finding a solution that combines these two industry-defining challenges is essential if you want to take your Digital Transformation strategy safely through this pandemic - and satisfy both your customers and the board. In banking as in any other industry, digital transformation is the way to go. Yet digital branches do not equal impersonal customer interactions.

Especially in these times where entire branch staff is required to work remotely and clients are mandated to stay at home, it is important not to leave the human touch out of the equation. Video banking is a solution for deepening your customer relationships digitally, while remaining personal at the same time. There are many different use cases where interacting with customers via video calls brings value to your bank, e.g. mortgage loan applications, wealth management or B2B account management.



At the moment, the default in banking has suddenly shifted from face-to-face customer interaction in-branch to 100% remote. In 2018, however, 80% of financial institutions were already offering video banking or planning to offer it in the near future. In the coming year (maybe months), live video interaction will become the new standard. If you haven't already got one, you need to come up with a strategy for making the shift from communicating with customers face-to-face to video calling now.

What strategy can you use to implement video banking on a large scale?

Implementing video banking the centralized or decentralized way

In order to offer video-enabled contact across your services and mature video as a channel, you can take a centralizing or decentralizing approach to video banking

  • Central
    To follow a centralized strategy for implementing video banking means focusing on rolling out video calls in a central Contact Center first. This contact center is not necessarily a customer service for inbound inquiries. It can also consist of a specialist, central advice team giving mortgage advice, for example, or handling all business loan applications. Plus, it's also used for outbound sales conversations such as online demo's.
  • Decentral
    When choosing to implement video banking decentrally, you start by rolling out to remote employees, your ‘field’ workforce. These can be both branch employees and account managers or sales reps working remotely in the region.


How to determine which of these two strategies best fits your business needs for video banking? We’ll go over the reasons for choosing a centralized or decentralized approach. 

Reasons for centralizing video banking

Faster delivery, higher efficiency

Centralizing your banking services is equivalent to making your human resources - advisors, service agents, sales reps - available to all customers, regardless of their location. With central video banking,
waiting time decreases and employees deliver a faster service.

Also, centralization is a good strategy for managing the overflow in demands coming from customers at local branches. If a local branch receives a lot of requests for mortgage advice but only has one advisor available, an efficient solution can be to give customers the option of scheduling a video call with a financial advisor at a central contact center.

Centralized-video-banking-to-get-digital-transformation-beyond-pandemicA centralized approach for implementing video banking

2. Easy scaling

When you choose to implement video banking at a central contact center first, it is easier to scale to more agents faster. Compared to calling customers over the phone or having in-person meetings, starting with video calling implies a big transformation in the way your employees do their job. With advisors and agents physically present at one and the same location, it is easier to train them, provide the right information and to give feedback in order to improve their performance. 

So by starting with a centralized roll-out you can really boost employee adoption of video banking, control the quality of work and hence, get more agents in on video banking.

3. Expertise for every customer

The ultimate benefit of centralizing advisors and agents at a video contact center is creating a center of expertise. And then being able to distribute this expertise knowledge equally among your customers, throughout regions and markets. This way, centralized video banking has the potential to perfectly bring together supply and demand in financial services.

Central vs decentral video banking_benefits


Benefits of decentralizing video banking

1. High-value conversations

Most of your valuable customer touchpoints are to be found locally. Customers contact local branches for products such as mortgages, insurances, investments, and services like private and business banking.

Interactions with these customers have high business value but also concern more complex financial products, so it’s important to map these high-value conversations. The next step is to devise a strategy for which channels to use in order to perform as many of these valuable interactions as possible. Some contact with customers might continue to be face-to-face, while other conversations can be organized more efficiently through video calls. 


Moreover, decentralized video banking in this sense is not just a means of raising efficiency from the bank’s perspective, but also of answering new client demands. Research from 2016 already showed, for example, that at least 54% of affluent clients themselves would be willing to have a video call with their financial advisor for discussing investments.

2. Sales opportunities through deeper relationships & higher trust

Because local advisors and account managers build more personal relationships with clients, it is easier for them to up-sell or cross-sell different products to one and the same customer. And when remote advisors are able to connect with customers through video calls, they do not lose time on travel, scheduling or other administrative tasks. This way video calling makes their business hours more efficient and will in turn increase sales results even further.


3. True digital transformation

Head offices and contact centers are usually the first to feel the impact of new digital initiatives. For most remote employees working at a local branch, digital transformation can remain a buzz word that is hard to relate with. By rolling out video banking decentrally, however, you will bring digital innovation right to the front lines of your organization.

On top of that, to agents who consider digitization a threat to their jobs, you’re showing that you understand the importance of human contact and that your financial advisors are worth investing in.

Like to see an example of how to implement video banking? Learn how Rabobank scaled video banking to 5000+ branch agents: download our case study >

The hybrid model: combine the best of both

There is a third approach. We illustrated how only by centralizing video banking at centers of expertise you can make specialist financial knowledge instantly available to all banking customers. Local branches, by extension, will continue to perform a more generic service function. However, we also pointed out how your highest-value customers are found locally.

In fact, it’s on the interplay between central and decentral that video banking can make the biggest impact for both your customers and the business. We found that most financial organizations have implemented a hybrid model for video banking, combining the centralized and decentralized approach.

Featured image_video-banking_blog

Connecting local queries to central expertise
One example of such a hybrid combination is when branches function as a referrer. Remote agents and advisors signal when a customer needs to be connected with an expert for specific services and information, or for a product they’re ready to buy. They can then schedule a video call to talk to a specialist advisor (or sales rep) at a contact center.

Reinforcing the strength of the regional specialist
Another use case at the interface of central and decentral video banking: equipping remote subject matter experts with a video solution. Often times, specialist advisors and account managers still travel throughout the region to meet customers in person, even though their client base is large. Video calling will enable this type of regional experts to cut down travel time significantly: by serving customers via video, they can work from one or several central branch locations (or ‘hubs’) within the region.

The benefits of a hybrid model for video banking

These are the benefits of combining the central and decentral approach to implement video banking:

 +  Ultimate resource management

A combination of the central and decentral approach will allow you to make the best possible use of your human resources, i.e. the experience and expertise of your agents, advisors and account managers.

 +  Spreading central expertise

By rolling out video both centrally and decentrally, you’re making the expertise of your (central) head offices and contact centers available to local (decentral) branches: your central ‘hub’ can function as a learning center for local advisors and regional specialists.

 +  Connecting with clients fast and managing relations at the same time

A hybrid strategy for implementing video banking will allow you to interact with clients fast and personally from your contact center, as well as to maintain, manage and strengthen customer relationships through your local branch advisors and account managers.

Implementing the hybrid model

As the hybrid approach shows, the success of implementing video lies in combining central with local, and digital with human. For your customers, the real value of video banking consists of being able to speak to a human financial advisor when it’s convenient, and for you it’s maximizing efficiency. In order to achieve both of these goals, you need to roll-out video both centrally and decentrally.

One successful strategy for video banking that our financial clients are implementing is central first and then extends to decentral teams:

  1. Start with a centralized team and gather the first results
  2. Expand video banking to other business units with centralized teams, and gradually improve the customer journey there
  3. Then expand to your first branches and decentralized teams to involve more stakeholders horizontally across the organization
  4. Scale: since you now have enough successful to show as results to agents and stakeholders/decision makers, it is time to roll-out video banking to all agents working with the use cases that video has already been implemented in
  5. Optimize the current customer journeys for video banking and add more complex use cases.

How to implement and scale video banking in your organization? Download your free Video Banking Implementation Guide >

Find the strategy that fits your business

But the hybrid implementation is just an example. There is no single successful strategy for implementing video banking. Which strategy best fits your bank depends on your organization, its identity, market position and customers. 

Strategize about these topics in order to define your approach:

  • Your current organizational model: make sure the video banking strategy you choose reflects the structure of your organization - in terms of people, processes and technology.
  • Pick one use case to start with: which activities will you create most business value with in the short term? Try to connect supply and demand: where in the customer journey can your supplies (i.e. your workforce capacity) meet the demands of your customers?
  • Combine centralization with decentralization, because you will have to apply both approaches to create maximum value out of video banking.

In the end, banks looking to optimize their omnichannel strategy have to find the combination of digital and personal interactions that is right for their specific organization, and the local markets they serve.

This blog has been co-authored by our Video Banking Expert Ferdinand Royackers and Inbound Marketer Lisanne Buisman. Last updated 21 April 2020.

Hungry for more?

Download the case study to learn how Rabobank rolled out video banking decentrally for over 3000 branch agents.


Topics:video bankinghow to implement video calling

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