Research Demonstrates How Internet Technology May Help Banks Make Queuing Rewarding For Customers

Cisco Systems 'Branch of the Future' Concept can Help Banks Reduce Costs, Enhance Security , Shorten Waiting Queues, Improve Customer Satisfaction

LONDON, March 1, 2005 - Cisco Systems® announced today that moves to introduce Internet Protocol (IP) networks into bank branches could soon be helping to cut queues and even make them more rewarding, according to research from Datamonitor. The analyst firm has singled out marketing, and specifically the delivery of plasma-screen based 'infotainment' to waiting customers, as one of two major areas where banks - and their customers - can benefit from branch renewal programs. The other is in security operations, where branches can run surveillance cameras, incident communication and, access systems to protect staff and customers alike over a single network.

Datamonitor's study shows on average, customers spend at least three minutes waiting to be served in a branch, while 45 per cent of banks bemoan the fact that this time is wasted as an opportunity to effectively communicate with them. Currently, most banks rely on glossy brochures to inform customers of services and products, which cost the European banking industry 1.67 billion euros alone to produce in 2004. Brochures are perceived as an ineffective medium since 50% of the respondents mentioned such printed media "lacked freshness" and 38% felt brochures "lacked relevance" to most customers.

The report advises that electronic marketing channels can help overcome queuing issues by allowing tailored video material to be streamed to screens in each branch, giving customers something to watch as they queue. In addition, cameras can be used to monitor branch use, giving management better information on queuing patterns to help cut down waiting times.

On security, Datamonitor believes integrating separate systems for surveillance, intruder detection and access control onto one network platform can help reduce the long-term maintenance cost of the systems, enable central control and access, and improve standards and functional integration among the various areas of security. Cisco is already working to deliver these benefits to the banking industry through a collaboration with NICE Systems provider of multimedia capture and content analytics applications enhancing business performance and improving security.

The foundation for these developments is the Cisco Branch of the Future framework, which is already delivering significant benefits to the industry in areas such as voice over IP.

"The Datamonitor research shows that bank branches could make significant gains in areas such as cabling alone by making full use of the converged networks they are now installing," commented Jordi Ferrer, Cisco Systems business development manager for the financial sector in Europe, Middle East and Africa. "Networks are allowing banks to do more with less, but in order to maximize the advantages there needs to be a more united approach to branch renewal so that the needs of several business functions are addressed through joint projects."

"Whilst most banks are very committed to renewing their branches, we are still observing a disjointed approach and isolated budgets across the operation. Facilitating better cooperation between various functions that play a part in branch operations will promote more innovative projects and better sharing of resources in the context of branch renewal," Daniel Lessner, financial services analyst, Datamonitor stated.

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