Beyond Live Text Chat: Adding Audio and Video
Once a bank has experienced live text chat, it typically asks:
“What else can we do with this technology?”
There are several features that banks can add on, says Sam
Heiney of Netop. The primary ones are audio and video live
chat. Audio enables the customer to speak with—in addition to
send text messages to—a customer service representative. The
audio is voice communication that is done over the Internet
using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). Since the audio
is encrypted, it is more secure than a normal telephone call.
Another option is one-way video, in which the customer
is able to see the customer service representative while either
talking or sending text messages. This heightens the intimacy
with the customer and also enables the CSR to communicate
visually—by pointing to a section of a document, for example.
In many cases, one-way video communications is prefer-
able. Since customers will not be seen, they can bank from
home while dressed casually—in their pajamas, for example.
But the video connection still creates the impression of a
Currently, when visitors access the bank’s website they
see a box on the lower left of the main page that encourages
them to click there in order to activate live chat. The function
is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
and on Saturday from 8 a.m. until 12 noon.
Since live chat was introduced last October, the bank has
received between 10 and 40 customer-initiated chats a day.
Most chats are service related and are similar to the ones the
bank receives through telephone: requests to reset online
banking passwords; questions dealing with specific accounts;
queries about the bank’s hours of operation, etc. “I think this
is to be expected since we’re using chat in a reactive mode
only right now,” says Bayer.
The bank benefits because customers report that they like
having the availability of chat. “It’s another way for folks to
interact with the bank. Some people would rather type than
pick up the telephone,” notes Bayer. Another plus is the fact
that the technology is not that expensive and adding it is
not a major undertaking. Since many consumers are already
familiar with live chat—having used it through major retailers
such as Amazon or L.L. Bean—the bank does not have to take
any special steps to educate consumers about the technology.
“It’s not considered leading edge anymore,” Bayer observes.
At the moment, the live chat queries are answered by
generalists in the call center. Eventually, the bank plans to
develop a routing list of bank employees who would be able
to respond to more detailed or complex questions.
Live chat helps to differentiate the bank from its peers.
The other banks in the market that offer it tend to be larger.
Bank marketers who are thinking about live chat should
have a goal and a sense of where they want to go with it.
“You need a plan, and you have to prioritize the order of the
things you want to do, as you would with any new technology,” says Bayer.
The bank’s live chat vendor, LivePerson, New York, says that
the technology is a good source of instant customer feedback.
“It gives banks a better flavor for what their customers are
experiencing,” says a spokesperson. Normally banks start
conservatively and then add on other capabilities, such as
voice or video. n
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
WALT ALBRO is the editor of ABA Bank Marketing magazine,
Washington, D.C. E-mail: Walbro@aba.com