Making omni-channel a reality – Part 1: The six key drivers for any omni-channel strategy

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Delivering a coherent omni-channel service for customers is a key goal for many financial institutions. There are many reasons why, one of the most powerful of which is to strengthen brand loyalty and drive revenue generation by providing a seamless, rewarding customer experience.

However, there are just as many reasons why the journey to omni-channel is a challenging one, with plenty of obstacles to overcome along the way. As I explore in this whitepaper, there are six key areas I believe retail banks should be concentrating on to develop a comprehensive omni-channel strategy, in order to maximize value delivered to the bank and its customers.

The opportunities in omni-channel

In many sectors – but particularly in retail banking – there is increasing demand among consumers for a service that seamlessly spans all channels, from physical to digital. Customers should be able to start a transaction in one channel and continue it in another, without any discernible lapse in service. That sense of cohesion and convenience is really the essence of omni-channel.

“Adding digital channels requires major efforts, yet payoffs can disappoint. Integrating digital and traditional channels into a truly omni-channel offering is even harder – but multiplies the rewards.” [More than digital plus traditional: A truly omnichannel customer experience – McKinsey]

In the above report, McKinsey offered an insight into the tangible business benefits that can be gained from a successful omni-channel strategy. It highlighted the example of a large regional bank in the US that saw cash loan sales rise by 28 percent per month and current account sales jump by 38 percent per month thanks to stronger links between its digital and traditional channels.

In the telecoms industry, a European firm’s efforts to increase usage of its online service channel cut costs by more than 20 percent and improved customer satisfaction by more than five percentage points.

Customers who feel that they are receiving an efficient, reliable service are more likely to become brand devotees and ambassadors – not only coming back to a bank for future products, but recommending it to other people too.

“Ease makes customers stay, effort makes customers leave. An effortless customer experience creates business value.” [96 percent of customers who abandon a company cite effort as a key reason for leaving, CEB Inc., The Effortless Experience 2013]

Challenges to overcome

One of the biggest challenges facing any bank – particularly well-established institutions – in developing and implementing an omni-channel strategy is the existence of internal silos. Having different teams working in different ways, with mismatched systems, procedures and technologies, can make it extremely difficult to deliver a fully coherent customer experience, with no barriers between channels and platforms.

These ‘legacy’ issues also extend to business culture, with entrenched leadership styles, skills and behaviors possibly holding businesses back from genuine innovation and evolution.

When it comes to lowering boundaries and offering a seamless service across channels, there remains a degree of ambiguity around how the physical aligns with the digital. What is the future of in-person, branch banking, and how does this marry up with the development of digital banking?

Then there is the issue of technology. Concepts like artificial intelligence and automation are expected to become increasingly significant for retail banking in the coming years, and banks must consider how they will fit in to their omni-channel strategies.

Introducing the Omni-Channel Wheel of Fortune

Based on my experience and recent interaction with NCR’s retail banking customers in various regions, I have identified six key areas for retail banks to focus on in order to truly transform their approach to omni-channel. Those six areas are represented on the Omni-Channel Wheel of Fortune:

By putting channel strategy, the customer, operating model assessment, digitization, data connectivity and organizational culture at the heart of your thinking around omni-channel, your business can put itself in a stronger position to realize the benefits that can be gained from this approach.

Keep an eye out for forthcoming blogs in which I will explore these areas in more detail.

 

Image: iStock/ipopba

Written by Aamir Janjua

Aamir Janjua

Aamir is NCR's Global Business Transformation Leader in financial services domain, supporting customers across the globe to optimise and transform their business to achieve desired business outcomes. He has 20 years’ experience in business and IT change management, business consulting and transformation covering banking, financial services, manufacturing and government verticals. He provides thought leadership and proactively share ideas and learnings from various global engagements via white papers and blogs to support successful transformation of the financial services industry into the digital era.

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