It goes without saying that today’s retail banking customers are more demanding than ever. With the rise of devices like smartphones and the growing capabilities of self-service options both online and in-branch, there’s now an expectation that consumers should be able to complete key banking activities whenever and however they want.
As a result, banks are constantly under pressure to improve their digital solutions. But in today’s environment, simply having an online banking solution or self-service options in the contact center is not enough, and this is where banks that have not yet fully embraced omnichannel need to do so.
Moving from multichannel to omnichannel
Some financial institutions (FIs) may believe that the multichannel solutions they have put in place over the past few years will be adequate to meet these needs, while there may also be an assumption that the difference between multichannel and omnichannel is mainly one of semantics. But this is far from the case.
Adding options such as online banking capabilities, mobile functionality and even social tools may meet multichannel requirements, but if these channels remain in their own silos, they are unlikely to give customers the experience they expect.
Strong integration is the fundamental differentiator between a traditional multichannel approach and an omnichannel solution. While the two are related, omnichannel offers a much more consistent experience across all channels and devices.
On a basic level, this could mean ensuring that mobile, online and ATM channels offer a consistent interface that allows users to intuitively move from one to the other. But as FIs become more confident with the technology, it can also mean ensuring that staff have a complete, single view of their customer no matter how they choose to interact.
This ensures that all services are able to be delivered through all channels, rather than an individual having to speak to an agent on the phone or in-branch to complete an activity, for example.
A consumer-first approach
Omnichannel capabilities are vitally important in today’s consumer-oriented environment. Customers – particularly those from younger generations – are now much more willing to shop around for banking services, and if they feel a competitor offers a better service when it comes to omnichannel, they will not stick around out of loyalty.
For instance, Microsoft’s 2015 US State of Multichannel Customer Service Report noted that 98 percent of consumers agree that the quality of customer service is an important factor when deciding on brand loyalty.
The same survey also found that customers expect to be able to use a wide mix of channels for interacting with brands, so it’s clear that if banks are to deliver a high-quality experience in today’s environment, they cannot afford to focus their efforts on just one or two key channels
In order to meet the expectations of today’s customers, banks will not only have to devote resources to improving every channel consumers may foreseeably wish to use, but also ensure all these channels are strongly integrated and information is shared effectively. This may be a major undertaking for some institutions, but it’s vital if they are to remain competitive and offer consumers the level of experience they expect in the coming years.