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UMB Bank Helps Customers Get Comfortable with Digital

Video conferencing and a new digital platform have helped UMB Bank encourage more customers to use digital channels while increasing revenue in the branch.

Every bank has its share of early and late adopters to new technologies, which can play havoc on banks’ channel strategies. If a bank doesn’t invest enough in digital products and services, its early adopter customers will look elsewhere to do their banking. But if the bank focuses too much on digital and neglects its branch and call center channels, then it can alienate the late adopters who still prefer those channels.

Every bank is having to deal with this conundrum, but Kansas City, MO.-based UMB Bank has found that leveraging its branch network to help customers learn how to use self-service channels can both increase branch revenue and cut costs by increasing use of new channels for certain transactions. The bank partnered with Cisco to provide video teleconferencing at three of its branches to connect branch customers with agents to help cut time and costs in resolving customer issues and conducting more complicated transactions like wire transfers. In addition, UMB recently rolled out a new “Digital Genius” platform that enables branch customers to learn how to use self-service channels with specially trained branch staff.

“There are still customers that aren’t comfortable using new technology. You have to hold their hand a little to help them get used to the technology,” says Christine Pierson, EVP of UMB Bank’s financial consumer division.

Christine Pierson, UMB BankChristine Pierson, UMB Bank

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The bank rolled out the teleconferencing capability at three of its branches in Kansas City, Denver and St. Louis back in 2012. Since then those three branches have seen a 50% boost in revenue, with more than 500 transactions being conducted via video, according to Pierson. Video conferencing has also saved the bank 150 hours in personnel time, as those transactions previously would have needed to be conducted in-person, leading to shorter lines at the teller, she added.

The video conferencing sessions are conducted in private meeting rooms equipped with a webcam, signature pad and printer. Branch staff greet customers and steer them to the video conferencing based on why they’re stopping by, Pierson says. Those customers that need a problem resolved or need to conduct a transaction involving documents and signatures are brought into the tele-conferencing room, where the branch staff introduce the customer to Tyler, UMB’s virtual banker. Customers can then conduct their transaction with Tyler and get any necessary documents printed and signed immediately, Pierson relates.

UMB researched how best to tailor the customer experience for those customers that weren’t used to self-service channels. And the research paid off: 95% of the customers that have used the video conferencing capability said that they enjoyed the experience, Pierson reports.

“We were worried about how this would play with certain demographics,” Pierson recalls. “Would older customers be comfortable with this? But we’ve found that they’ve received it well. One of our older customers loved it so much that when she comes to the branch she asks to see Tyler.”

UMB further enhanced its efforts to teach customers how to use self-service channels when it rolled its “Digital Genius” platform in February. The platform helps branch staff conduct a personalized session that enrolls customers in self-service channels and trains them how to use those channels. Customer can learn how to customize alerts and conduct transactions, Pierson notes.

The “Digital Genius” platform has helped increase use of self-service channels since its recent rollout. Prior to its rollout, only 20% of UMB’s customers used three or more self-service channels, Pierson says. But among customers that have used the platform, more than 80% are now using at least three self-service channels, she adds.

The bank plans to extend its use of video banking to better serve customers looking for expert advice, as it is currently testing teleconferencing sessions between customers and subject matter experts.

“It’s about the evolution of how you invest in digital technology, and how you invest in brick-and-mortar, and [tying that into] the evolution of how customers are migrating to digital. This helps enable that migration,” Pierson 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

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