A s the world’s largest building society, with a relationship with 1-in-4 households in the UK, Nationwide prides itself on being easy to do business with, and putting the needs of its members at the heart of what it does. Its mutual status means it’s always looking to do the right thing for its 15 million members, and it has around 700 branches being served by around 400 specialist mortgage advisors.

Andrew Nation, Senior Manager, Future Customer Outcomes at Nationwide, says: “We tried to maximize the use of consultants by allocating a greater part of their time to busier branches, and arranging appointments in less busy branches around this. However, meeting member expectations of an appointment when it was convenient to them can be difficult. So to provide the best possible service, we wanted to find a way to increase our capacity.”

The Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution for Retail Banking, which enables virtual face-to-face customer meetings using high-definition video, provided a unique solution to Nationwide's dilemma. “Cisco was very keen to explore this solution with us in the U.K. market,” says Nation, “and a Cisco Services supported pilot was proposed across six branches in Wales and the north of England.”

As part of the Nationwide Remote Advisor pilot, the company took some mortgage consultants out of the branches altogether and encouraged members to try the service. In each of the six pilot branches, Nationwide set up a private space with a video screen, providing a link to four contact center based mortgage consultants. Attention to detail was critical: the remote advisors were uniformed and occupied pods looked like branch offices. Branch staff used Instant Messaging (IM) to check on consultant availability whenever a customer had a mortgage query. With a member of the four-person advisory team alerted, the customer was connected. Once connected, the customer saw and talked with the advisor in real time, was able to review documents and mortgage choices with the expert, and received printed documentation for review or signature.

Cisco Services was involved in high level and low-level designs, and worked on deployment aspects including software configuration and acceptance testing. “The support of Cisco Services was essential in bringing the pilot to fruition,” says Nation. “There's nobody else with that level of knowledge. We couldn't have done it without them.”

BT Global Services, which partners with Nationwide in the provision of managed wide and local area network services, worked closely with Cisco Services to take account of the demands of the Nationwide Remote Advisor service on the company's U.K. network infrastructure. Meanwhile Computacenter performed a similar function for the IT infrastructure. This design phase was followed by handover and post-implementation support by Cisco Services in the form of knowledge transfer sessions.

When it went live, the Nationwide Remote Advisor service was the first deployment of the Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution in the Cisco EMEAR (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia) region.


Nationwide measures success on three parameters: customer experience, new business uplift, and cost. “Our question was about our members' response,” says Nation. “As delivering a brilliant service is key for Nationwide, it didn't matter what commercial benefits could be achieved if our members weren't happy with it. We therefore needed to know if they saw the Nationwide Remote Advisor service as good as having a face-to-face consultation.” Applicants took a short survey: 93 percent said it was an excellent or good face-to-face meeting replacement and, including average scores, the level rose to 98 percent.

Nationwide calculated the long term baseline mortgage-selling rate for each of the six branches in the pilot. With Nationwide Remote Advisor deployed, performance rose by two-thirds, which more than justified a wider system deployment. Nation says: “The Cisco solution has helped us improve customer satisfaction and staff efficiency while at the same time increasing mortgage sales. The business case in favor of the Cisco solution stacked up quickly,” Nation concluded.

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Fast Facts

Customer Name: Nationwide
Industry: Financial services
Location: United Kingdom
Number of Employees: 15,000

Business Challenge

Improve customer satisfaction
Enhance access to experts
Reduce leakage of business to competitors

Network Solution

Cisco Remote Expert Smart Solution
Cisco Services for planning, design, build, and deployment

Business Results

2/3rd improvement in new mortgage business
Double digit improvement in customer net satisfaction
2/3rd reduction in cost of sale

Next Steps

Having established the benefits of Remote Advisor, Nationwide is planning to fully deploy it in order to supplement its existing branch workforce. The program involves adapting network infrastructure, putting more branches online, and adding new contact center resources.

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