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How Nationwide is digitally engaging with its branch customers

While a number of banks and building societies are closing their physical branches, Nationwide is using technology to connect with customers in need of banking services.

The building society has partnered with Cisco to implement Nationwide Now – a suite of face-to-face collaboration and conferencing technologies  in 400 of its branches around the UK.

Using high-definition video conferencing, screen sharing and remote printing and scanning, Nationwide specialists can complete the full end-to-end sales application process for customers remotely. Customers willing to engage with remote Nationwide colleagues will be shown to a room where the Cisco's ‘Intelligent Branch’ technology allows them to connect to an expert, such as a mortgage advisor.

Mark Goldman, divisional director at Nationwide Building Society, said by centralising Nationwide's experts and deploying them remotely to branches, it is already 30% more productive than the previous decentralised model.

The technology was first trialled by Nationwide in 2013 and the building society believes it is the first deployment in Europe of its kind, while 99% of its customers rate the service as 'excellent'.

"We've now helped 30,000 customers up and down the country with 5,000 interviews a month, while creating 230 new roles in 300 operations centres up and down the UK," described Goldman.

In order to create a good environment for the Nationwide agent to engage with the customer, the centralised room the agent is sitting in is absent of paperwork and has similar posters to those in the branch to create a seamless experience for the customer. The rooms customers sit in are also soundproofed to ensure confidentiality.

"Given the remote nature, it is important our agents are enabled to have good engagement with the customer on the other side," added Goldman.

Goldman pointed towards Nationwide's branch in Orkney, an archipelago of islands off the north coast of Scotland. He said mortgage advisors would be flown in for appointments around once a fortnight, but with the telepresence technology customers are finding it much easier to sit down with an expert, albeit virtually.

Meanwhile, Nationwide was struggling to justify its Caversham branch near Reading, so it decided to introduce Nationwide Now. "Using technology we have expanding our service capability and expanded that branch and maintained our commitment to that community," said Goldman.

"We are totally committed to this service," he added, saying the building society will soon have the technology available in all branches, while due to the high demand, some branches already need an additional room so two remote appointments can be carried out at the same time.

Nationwide is also looking at how it can take the service into customers' homes or their mobile devices.

"That's the next obvious iteration – what is convenient for the customer," he said.

"Where we would eventually like to be is take all branches and central remote advisors and turn them into a virtual sales workforce. Tap into all of our capacity and make the offer and availability to our customers, however they choose to listen to us."

John Brigden, SVP at Cisco's software group, added: “Companies that embrace digital transformation are driving significant market valuations. They recognize the value of competitive differentiation, and know how to identify and act on critical enablers of growth. Cisco’s Customer and Workforce Experience solutions, as well as Digital Ceiling, are designed with that in mind. These customer-validated, digital solutions are created to help you drive revenue and deliver on those critical business outcomes.”  

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