Imagine a consumer beginning a pre-approved car loan application at a branch office, snapping pictures of a document for the loan on the way to work, depositing a check to cover the down payment using remote check deposit capture, completing the loan signature requirements on a home computer, and transferring funds to a car dealer by tapping an NFC enabled smartwatch. This type of transaction is becoming increasingly typical for today’s digitally empowered consumers, who expect a unified experience across all the devices and the flexibility to begin a process on one device and complete it on another.
A Google research report found that 98% of Americans switch between devices on the same day, while 46% of the population manage their finances online. It is also a reality that most consumers will shop for new products and services online, with almost half completing the purchase on a mobile device. In other words, today’s consumer does not distinguish between devices – and expects a seamless customer journey.
The Importance of Omnichannel Banking
Consumers today expect a seamless and real time experience on all transaction touch points when it comes to accessing banking services as well. The status quo will no longer be enough to drive consumer engagement. With the threat of digital disruption and evolving needs of consumers, banks need to take a step further towards the path of digitalization and increase investments to improve digital channel design and engagement. Implementing an effective omnichannel strategy is a powerful weapon for banks to win customers who demand convenience and simplicity irrespective of the kind of electronic devices or physical channels they use.
Providing a seamless experience to consumers on multiple devices requires integration between digital and physical channels. The explosive growth of digital touchpoints for consumers has overshadowed the traditional channels defined by legacy banks, thereby forcing banks to redefine the way channels are managed. An omnichannel approach will give banks the flexibility to capture the customers’ intent and derive the pattern of conversations by leveraging all the channels where consumers interact (from online, branch, phone or an app), personalizing these conversations. organizations can also gather insights by analyzing the speech of the customers using speech analytics, and manage data gathered in various forms such as video, audio and text, storing insights at each step.
Financial services firms historically have put all their focus on bank-centric transactions as opposed to customer-centric engagements. With an omnichannel approach, banks and credit unions can deliver targeted advice, products and services to consumers across multiple devices such as a smartphone, tablet, desktop or physical visit in the bank, thereby unlocking many avenues of profitability. A successful digital transformation requires banks to keep a finger on the pulse of buying behavior, preference and choices of customers across different channels/devices, building an agile IT infrastructure to support customer-centric innovation.
Mixing Traditional With Emerging Channels
Here are the focus areas where financial services organizations need to pay attention while implementing an omnichannel banking strategy:
- Physical branches are here to stay. The pressure to gain competitive edge demands a digital upgrade of traditional bank branches, including an enhancement of customers’ touch points with a combination of both tech savvy and core banking professionals.
- Physical supports digital. Convert branches to be equipped with digital capabilities such as digital signage, video-enabled contact centers and interactive self service kiosks serving consumers in multiple languages.
- Integrate new technologies. Deploying video conferencing will be a cost-effective approach, consumer-centric enhancement for banks to serve consumers who seek face-to-face interaction with specialized banking professionals. Next-generation banking services will integrate video in multi-purpose ATMs and banking kiosks, enhancing the consumer experience.
In the future, banking organizations can give consumers the flexibility to interact with consumer care professionals and banking managers without physically visiting the bank branch. This will be achieved by integrating live chat software with a bank or credit union website and app. For example, Banks of America has introduced Automated Teller Assist (an ATM) with live-video capabilities, enabling customers to speak with a remote teller to access services such as loan, credit card payments and other banking related services.
Keys to Delivering the Omnichannel Experience
Delivering an incredible mobile banking experience requires banks and credit unions to focus on building applications with a simple, more intuitive and even a learning user interface, allowing customers to conduct transactions and other banking related activities using personalized smartphone apps. With an increasing amount of time spent by consumers in the social media sites, financial services organizations should also consider integrating banking capabilities into social media sites, taking care of privacy concerns and protecting the sensitive information of the users.
Focusing on collecting, managing and integrating disparate data sources to gain a holistic view of the consumers will enable banks and credit unions to offer customized offers. Financial organizations should also deploy an effective CRM solution that can offer visibility into the relevant customer and member data across multiple touchpoints of the organization. This is the only way a seamless omnichannel experience can be achieved.
Using advanced data analytics, banks can analyze the intentions of the consumers and gain insights. The analytics application should focus on traditional areas such as customer segmentation, optimization, text and voice data analysis, sentiment analysis and pattern recognition.
Banks and credit unions must emphasize the development of new skills for employees to meet the needs of consumers across all of the digital channels. This can be done through enhanced training and alternative compensation models. For example, a wealth management advisor will need to learn different skill sets from the agent who solves the problems of consumers through chat-enabled platforms.
There is a need to monitor activity on all the consumers’ touch points (ATMs, branches, online and mobile as well as social channels) measuring the real success of omnichannel activities. Getting the visibility of individual consumer journeys will provide buying path insights as well as the operational performance at the channel level. This will ultimately provide insights into the value of overall customer relationships.
Finally, customizing the channels, products and services according to the needs and demographics of the consumer will lead to delivering seamless and personalized omnichannel experiences.
The Future of Omnichannel Banking
Banks and credit unions must focus on the impact of every channel in terms of investment and revenue optimization. addressing the issues of inadequacies of each channel promptly to avoid compromising on the quality of delivering seamless consumer experiences. Focusing on all of the banking products and services and all channels equally will not serve the purpose of optimization or exceptional journeys. This is where collecting usage and journey insights becomes imperative.
Understanding and controlling how interactions, products and relationships are managed across all channels will help financial institutions reduce time to market for new products and services allowing for enhanced agility. An option for some organizations will be the deployment of third-party omnichannel banking solutions which can provide a flexible and seamless banking experience by being broadly present across channels.
Regardless of whether the customer walks into a bank branch, does banking on the web or via a mobile phone, uses an ATM or their smart watch, financial services organizations must enable each channel to serve consumers at the time and place desired. Banks and credit unions can raise brand awareness, drive loyalty and ultimately provide value to their customers and members by obtaining data from every transaction, generating new revenue streams, targeting specific audiences, improving sales, empowering consumers with self-servicing banking, monetizing the value of customer analytics, and enhancing the brand value.
Very few financial organizations are focusing adequately on perfecting an omnichannel strategy. Building a unified and single platform, with the capability to manage all channels can enable banks and credit unions to be at par with new age fintech startups and tech giants on the innovation and service delivery front.