Czech banks are switching to video consulting

By the end of this year, more than 1,500 bankers should participate in online video meetings, and most of them will provide the service during the next year, Česká spořitelna announced this month. At present, 500 bankers of the savings bank provide video advice. Clients can consult about their finances and negotiate any service or product via video.

The bank was introduced to the service by demand from clients who became accustomed to telephone communication during the pandemic. “During the first six pandemic months, most of our branches were closed and more than two thousand of our bankers provided basic care and advice to clients over the phone,” explains spokesman Filip Hrubý.

According to a survey by the savings bank, a fifth of clients, mostly from the younger generation, are interested in the video consulting service. “Especially young clients perceive the savings bank through digital mobile banking and, in fact, they no longer even think of going to the branch,” says Hrubý.

The bank has been testing video calls since the beginning of the year. In the pilot phase, over 110 bankers took part in the project, holding more than 700 online meetings with an average duration of around one hour. “More than ninety percent of clients were completely satisfied with the course of video consulting, so we were undoubtedly surprised by the high level of satisfaction,” he adds.

The investment pays off

According to Hrubý, the introduction of video calls could also solve the shortage of manpower and contribute to a better reconciliation of personal and professional life. “We believe that the possibility of working from home part-time will allow us to increase the percentage of parents who will return to the savings bank after the end of parental leave. So far, only every second person returns to us, “he says.

Bankers will, of course, have to use secure corporate tablets and a VPN network to connect with clients, which has the maximum level of protection against cyber threats, he adds. “In the long run, video consulting is more cost-effective for banks, although in the short term they may face increased costs due not only to the need for technology, but also to regulations,” said Lukáš Kovanda, a member of the government’s National Economic Council and chief economist at Trinity Bank.

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ČSOB registers a similarly high level of interest from clients. “Interest in our digital services was high even before the pandemic, by default we had over 200 video calls a month, but during the coronary crisis the demand naturally increased significantly,” said spokesman Patrik Madle.

In a video call, clients can resolve all issues in the same way as when visiting a branch. It even has advantages. “The service also enables screen sharing, so that a specialist can share with clients, for example, the performance of investment funds or the filling in of web forms,” ​​adds Madle.

Komerční banka also sees the future of banking advisory services in video meetings. “We would like video meetings to become a regular part of the working life of our bankers,” says Michal Teubner, a spokesman for Komerční banka. KB has been providing the possibility of investment video meetings since March this year. It was forced to change mainly by clients, who increasingly prefer online communication.

“Video consulting is becoming more prominent in Czech banking, mainly due to the pandemic transition to the online sphere,” Kovanda sums up. According to him, the pandemic only hastened a trend that would have occurred anyway.

Part of the clientele is not interested

Surveys of some banks, on the other hand, show that their clients do not care about video meetings. “We have been offering video advice since the beginning of the pandemic, but the demand is very small,” says Petra Kopecká from Raiffeisenbank. The main reason is the limited range of services that the bank can offer via video chat. “Advisors cannot yet resolve any details regarding client-owned products via video call, so if they need to address any specific or more complex issues related to their finances, they prefer to visit branches,” explains Kopecká.

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The bank has been experimenting with fully internet banking services in the past. Ten years ago, the first branchless bank in Central and Eastern Europe, Zuno Bank, which also belonged to the Austrian group Raiffeisenbank International, entered the Czech market. In 2017, however, it had to close down due to losses.

There is also a completely opposite trend. Some of the surveyed domestic banks do not offer or consider a video consulting service. According to the speakers, UniCredit Bank, Air Bank or Fio banka do not provide video meetings. Instead, they bet on the services offered by their internet banking.

“We do not plan to introduce video consulting, but rather focus on the new possibilities of our Smartbanking,” Jakub Heřmánek, a spokesman for Fio banka, is responsible.

In the future, large banks and banks that address younger clients will resort to video consulting, Kovanda believes. “On the contrary, more conservative, often smaller banks will continue to develop personal services and emphasize elements of private banking with a fully personal approach of the banker to the client,” he adds.

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