By : Andrew Short
August 08, 2017 08:00 AM
As consumers become increasingly accustomed to unified, consistent experiences across channels, there is a growing emphasis on banks to deliver omni-channel service. That means providing an efficient, connected experience that gives customers the freedom to move seamlessly across channels, from branch to self-service to mobile.
One of the big challenges for banks is finding the most effective and affordable way to complete an omni-channel transformation. This can be particularly difficult if you are working to move away from silo-based approaches and legacy systems.
In a recent whitepaper, Aamir Janjua, NCR's global business transformation leader for financial services, identified some of the key drivers for any omni-channel strategy. He stressed the importance of focusing on channel strategy, the customer, organizational culture, operating models, digitization and data connectivity.
Some of the biggest banks in North America have also provided their insights into what makes a successful omni-channel transformation, talking to American Banker about the importance of concepts such as simplicity and carefully thought-out innovation.
Keeping things as simple as possible is important, not only for the bank but for the customer as well.
American Banker highlighted the examples of U.S. Bank and Toronto-based BMO, both of which are focusing on common issues that lead to customers switching between channels not out of choice, but because they have encountered a problem.
Niti Badarinath, head of North American channels at BMO, said: "First I have to focus on simplicity and removing dissatisfiers, because I haven't earned the right to delight you until I've simplified the experience. The reason people change channels mid-session and mid-transaction is because something is broken, confusing or not there."
Using analytics to identify common lapses in customer experience and support consumers through their various transactions and financial decisions is something we can expect to see more of in the coming years.
As Aamir points out in his whitepaper, the customer should be seen as the most important element in any omni-channel transformation. All investment and strategy decisions should be made at least partly on the basis of how they can benefit consumers and improve the customer experience.
Gareth Gaston, executive vice-president of omni-channel at U.S. Bank, pointed out that today's financial institutions are operating in a world where customer preferences could be driven by the latest iOS upgrade, or a new experience from Amazon. There is an expectation on banks to keep up with this pace of tech-driven change.
Discussing the issue of customers forgetting their passwords, Mr Gaston said U.S. Bank has responded by offering fingerprint authentication via its mobile app and a more streamlined process for resetting passwords.
"That would be an example of listening to customer feedback, implementing it quickly, and not just implementing it in digital but across all channels," he commented.
Innovation is growing in importance as financial institutions seek to provide next-generation experiences for their customers and distinguish themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace. But, when it comes to omni-channel transformation, what can you do to maximize the chances of innovation delivering results?
Both U.S. Bank and BMO have established dedicated innovation teams, whose job it is to identify and evaluate new technologies and opportunities for collaboration, particularly with fintechs.
When it comes to implementing new technologies and experiences, it's important to put them through a rigorous test phase and, if they are not functioning as effectively as you would like, to put in the time and effort to find out why.
Taking this sort of careful, considered approach, with minimum complexity and maximum focus on the customer, could prove critical to the success of your omni-channel transformation.