Dr. Lawrence Hiner has seen children’s faces light up when they learn how to communicate by using a computer. For decades, he helped people with disabilities discover a whole new world with a keyboard and monitor.
The psychologist credits his penchant for technology with leading him to a discovery of his own in the area of personal finance: online video banking with Wells Fargo.
“When I saw there was an option for video banking, I thought, ‘What a great idea!’” said Hiner, who has been a Wells Fargo customer for 27 years. “As a customer, it appealed to me for convenience; as a psychologist, it appealed to me for efficiency and the quality of a face-to-face meeting.”
It wasn’t long before Hiner, from his home in Sacramento, California, was on a coast-to-coast video call with Ruby Crumpler, a Wells Fargo team member in Charlotte, North Carolina. Together, they worked out the details of refinancing his home equity line of credit.
“You can cover a lot of ground in a relatively short period of time,” said Hiner, a co-owner of a corporate training and consulting firm. “There is less need for going back and forth through email, snail mail, or phone calls to follow up on paperwork. Video banking is certainly much more efficient and cost effective for everyone involved.”
Team members enjoy the interactions, too. “In developing a rapport,” Crumpler said, “I can’t say enough about the benefit of actually seeing the customer.”
Hiner said working and interacting with Crumpler made the process especially meaningful.
“I know that part of it was her training, but the main part was who she is — her manner and personality. She’s just very competent, genuine, easy to talk to, and quick to listen,” he said. “That personal touch makes video banking much more of an appealing experience.”
That is a key benefit video banking offers, because new technology has made it less necessary for customers to come to a branch and interact on a personal level, said Mark Schwanhausser of Javelin Strategy & Research, a financial technology research and advisory firm.
“Wells Fargo clearly recognizes that for consumers who are increasingly comfortable with online banking, video is seen as a natural extension of their online experience,” he said. “It is essential for banks to be in step with their customers’ demand for a technology like video banking, which is both useful and user-friendly.”
A case in point is Wells Fargo’s video banking pilot for desktop and laptop users who are current or potential Home Equity customers. Feedback was so positive the company took its Video Call service directly from pilot status to a regular feature. Other businesses at Wells Fargo also are looking at offering a similar service later this year.
[Note: To reach a Wells Fargo banker through Video Call, visit https://www.wellsfargo.com/equity/, look for the “Video Call Us” box on the right side of the screen, and click “Call us.”]
“Video Call has given our customers a convenient and effective new digital option in interacting with us,” said Jim Smith, head of Wells Fargo Virtual Channels, which collaborated with Home Lending on the pilot. “It gives us an opportunity to make that face-to-face, personal connection and enhance our relationship with our customers.”
Note: A version of this story also appeared in the 2016 Wells Fargo Annual Report (PDF).