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Unexpected Client Connection Tool: HD Video Conferencing

Video conferencing gives Trust Company of Vermont an edge in customer service and employee collaboration.

With a base of clients across five locations in rural Vermont, Burlington-based Trust Company of Vermont has faced challenges in providing services consistently and efficiently -- particularly during the state’s notoriously unpredictable winters. Video conferencing technology has proved a simple solution to better service, allowing us to connect with clients and peers no matter where they may be.

Challenge
Employee-owned and managed, Trust Company of Vermont (TCV) is a state-chartered trust and investment management firm. We provide individual investors, corporations and non-profits with services including custody, investment management, trustee and fiduciary advisement, and estate planning. We have branches in Brattleboro, Burlington, Rutland, St. Albans, and Manchester Center.

Each investment manager in the company has clients across the state of Vermont and beyond. Maintaining a face-to-face relationship with these clients can be difficult because of the lengthy travel that’s often involved. This can be further complicated when weather conditions turn bad -- something that happens frequently during our unpredictable winters. Consequently, we needed a better way to connect with our geographically dispersed client base -- and to improve collaboration between the various branches.

As a solution to these challenges, TCV began exploring video collaboration options. We were initially discouraged. Consumer-grade products typically lacked the high-quality experience needed to build trusted relationships with clients and advisors.

We tested various off-the-shelf, gimmicky products. Lip synchronization and audio quality were so poor that we found ourselves using a phone bridge to supplement our video calls. Worse yet, free video products lacked critical security features that a company like ours needs when discussing confidential financial information.

The power of HD
We had heard of a law firm in our community that had been successful with a video company called LifeSize. Corporate Data & Voice Solutions offered us a demo of the LifeSize Icon system, and we knew right away that we had found the answer to our problems. It was amazing to see what a true HD video collaboration solution really looked like.

After the demo, we purchased LifeSize Icon systems for each of our conference rooms across the state. We coupled these end-points with LifeSize touchscreen phones to improve sound quality and enhance the simple user experience of the total solution. We also purchased a number of LifeSize UVC ClearSea licenses to support video on desktop computers and mobile devices.

Video conferencing has made a positive impact on the company, both internally and externally. Our investment managers and our clients have been very receptive to using this technology. With video conferencing, our clients can connect with their preferred investment manager no matter where they may be, for a level of convenience and flexibility that we never had before.

In our business, it is critical to see our clients’ reactions to certain things we might say. We have found that the only way to build trust with our clients, aside from in-person interactions, is with video conferencing.

More importantly, clients and investment managers alike can be sure that the confidential conversations they have over video are secure and can’t be accessed by unauthorized third parties.

Since putting video into practice, we’ve begun using the technology in many different ways, from weekly training sessions where we discuss changes in tax and trust law to company-wide staff meetings. Our employees can even work from home or check in while on vacation on their laptops or smart devices. They are never more than a click away from clients and colleagues, while working from the location of their choice. And as an added benefit, we no longer have to spend as much on costly travel expenses.

It’s been a great way to develop tighter bonds not only with our clients but internally as well. Before we decided to use video conferencing, we would only get the chance to see our remote colleagues once a year at the company holiday party. Now we feel more connected than ever before, which has led to a tighter, more cohesive business overall.

David DeBellis is principal and portfolio manager for the Trust Company of Vermont.  He can be reached at 1-802-846-9860, or David@tcvermont.com View Full Bio

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reedgusmus
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reedgusmus,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/24/2014 | 2:31:41 PM
Connecting with clients through video conferencing
Thanks for the article, you gave awesome insight into the benefits of video conferencing. It's amazing how we used to think that the telepresence systems were the future of conferencing, but now they seem obsolete. Personally, I have benefitted from the capabilities of video conferencing, especially since the mobile apps allow me to particpate in meetings when I'm traveling. I use iMeet (www.pgi.com/imeet) and my clients love how easy it is to use.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Author
6/25/2014 | 9:40:13 AM
Re: Connecting with clients through video conferencing
Yes, there are a number of video conferencing apps available (some at no cost). We used to hear a lot of talk about Skype in this space, but not as much lately. It seems Skype isn't reliable enough for corporate use. It has gotten better, but not good enough for the enterprise.
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