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Going Virtual: Close more sales expand market coverage and lower cost to serve

- March 14, 2017 4:32 pm

Imagine: you’ve increased client contact by 150%, your advisor-to-customer ratios have doubled, sales productivity has tripled, client confidence has doubled, and your costs are down 40%.

Imagine what this could mean for your profitability.

A recent McKinsey report shows that life insurance firms are seeing these incredible improvements after adopting Remote Advice solutions. In fact, the Cisco retail banking clients that have incorporated Remote Advice into their Distribution model are also showing these amazing returns.

What is Remote Advice?

Remote Advice is a way of getting experts and clients together, even if they are in different geographic locations. At Cisco, we call this Virtual Expert. While this model has historically taken the form of contact centres, today’s digital interaction capabilities, such as real-time content sharing, high-definition video, and remote signature, provide effective and profitable digital face-to-face capabilities.

At a time when optimizing costs to serve and delivering superior client experiences are key goals for Canadian financial services institutions, and when clients’ expect more digital, personalized services, the use of available technology to virtualize scarce expertise and to deliver advice remotely is becoming a key lever within insurance and banking distribution models.

Typically, branches have been at the heart of distribution models, each fully staffed with specific experts and employees with the capacity to meet a variety of client needs. To meet growing demand and attract new clients, financial services firms have built wide-reaching branch networks in all major cities and towns across Canada. Then, to better reach clients, mobile specialists — mortgage brokers, insurance agents, and financial planners, for example — travel between branches and regions. In addition to significantly increasing their costs to serve, these resource allocation and coverage models bring forth other challenges.

Travel time, cancelled meetings, and limited access to resources while on the go impede productivity and limit the number of clients that can be served at the best of times. What if the mobile specialists don’t make it to the right place at the right time? What if a client visits your branch and finds that the required specialist is unavailable? Chances are they’ll go elsewhere. Plus, during special events and campaigns such as tax and RRSP seasons, not having the right capacity at branches will impact sales opportunities and client relationships.

The trouble is, financial institutions persist in using these traditional strategies, even as the challenges of managing and balancing supply and demand continues to grow with the Canadian population.

The good news is, Virtual Expert can solve many of these problems. Virtual Expert makes the right specialists (product expertise, language, cultural affinity, etc.) available and accessible dynamically, regardless of geography or time of day. This can neutralize supply and demand challenges, enhance client experience and net promoter scores, all while contributing to business growth and reducing the cost to serve and to scale the business.

With more clients moving to digital and mobile, and fewer going into physical branches, financial services firms are rethinking how they do business. One approach is to reduce size and number of branches, and establish a mix of branch models that meet the varying needs of clients in a more cost-effective way.

Virtual Expert is an efficient way to maximize ROI and enhance customer experience in the increasingly digital age. It’s more important than ever to make Virtual Expert a cornerstone in the distribution model. Virtual Expert also makes it easier to match cost to serve with the size of the market, especially in smaller communities.

By using Cisco’s Virtual Expert and other complementary solutions, clients are simultaneously making branches smaller, smarter, and limitless while enabling the delivery of secure end-to-end services in digital channels. Economic returns so far support the finding in McKinsey’s report: significant increases in productivity, client loads per advisor, frequency of client contact, and superior agility are possible with Virtual Expert.

These are compelling results, and not implementing Virtual Expert could result in missed opportunities and a competitive disadvantage.

We’ll be delving deeper into the factors for success throughout the coming months, so stay tuned.

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