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Video didn’t kill the radio star
by Mark Smith

Not a lot of people know this…… MTV’s very first video was the irritating earworm by the rarely remembered, and winner of crappiest name for a band ever, ‘The Buggles’ with their only hit ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’. Yeah right, that prediction was rubbish.

So to video. Ages ago, ContactEngine involved itself in some really fascinating video projects – back in 2012, and again in 2014, we produced a video app for Samsung as a part of the Summer and Winter Olympics. The app was given to athletes and allowed them to video blog their ‘behind the scenes’ activity – the app uploaded the content and geolocated it and we even added some automated post production smarts with nice overlays of the athletes names, sports and so on. Excited by the possibilities that this tech delivered we were commissioned by the lovely Virgin Media to help support video at the Commonwealth Games (that’s where the UK compete against tiny nations that we once annexed and watch them beat us at various sports, or bigger nations we once annexed and watch them beat us at various sports). This time we cross posted the videos onto TiVo – the box that Virgin supply to help people watch the telly. Even better than that, we then worked out how to actually connect the video on to a smart phone and TiVo live so that we could actually video conference via a dumb telly via the TiVo box. Then we gave up on video. We got a bit busy with more mundane tasks such as sorting out appointments millions of times a week and making an automated, nigh on sentient, conversation engine.

So, it’s with much amusement that video has popped up again recently, this time in the Fintech space…

Back in the day, you had a bank manager, you might have known his/her name, they were there at the school with their kids, or in the crowd at the football match, they often bought the first round. Let’s call one of them Jane. Then all hell broke loose, Jane became your very worst waking nightmare, the banks had broken the world with their complicated financial fiddling abouts. Jane stopped buying the drinks, in fact, lots of Jane’s colleagues paid the price of the fiddlings about and lost their jobs as Governments had to step in and pour billions of dollars into their vaults to stop the world from ending (ish). With fewer Janes available, the banks started to look at the brave new world of technology. They threw themselves at apps and did a cracking job getting us all engaged. The trouble is that banking started to lose its soul – the personal touch had gone, everyone missed Jane – she was a nice woman, wasn’t she? I wonder what she is doing now? And with the lack of soul came the lack of loyalty – if the banks are all the same – with their identical products and their samey apps why should we stay loyal?

Here’s the thing – banks are changing again – trying to get the personal touch back – but they know they can’t get all the Janes back – but they can marry technology and Jane together. So, what is happening now is banks have turned to video conferencing as part of their engagement strategy.

Trouble is you need to get people to turn up for the video conference, just like you need them to come to the physical branch. So, we are starting a new adventure where we are connecting the desire for a 1 on 1 video chat between a bank and its customer to our appointment setting service to maximise opportunities to serve. Here’s how it works:

    1. Customer is contacted (automatically) by ContactEngine to see if there is an appetite to talk to Jane about a financial product – let’s call it a mortgage
    2. Customer replies ‘yes please’
    3. ContactEngine (automatically) seeks out Jane’s availability and offers three choices of time slots
    4. Customer replies ‘Thursday at 2pm would be great, thanks’
    5. ContactEngine (automatically) adds the appointment to Jane’s diary
    6. ContactEngine (go on, guess…….. yes, automatically) sends reminders to the customer asking them to have various documents ready for the 1 on 1
    7. Video call happens, everyone is happy (we know because, automatically [oh no, not again] ContactEngine asked how it all went)
    8. Job done!

Now I’m not sure I want us to resurrect our video interests again – to be honest there are some really great products out there and each to their own – Zoom, WebEx, even good old Skype offer decent secure exchanges, but there is that niggle still in my mind – that maybe you can bypass the fiddly app experience and just use your cell-phone’s camera and your telly? Imagine that – Jane is actually a video star right there in your front room and you never know but maybe you’ll see her at the football next Saturday, ‘cause you quite miss her, don’t you?

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