Making omni-channel a reality – Part 3: The customer is everything

Banks don’t need to be told how important it is to keep their customers engaged and satisfied. But when it comes to omni-channel transformation, it’s impossible to overstate just how crucial it is to understand your customers, and to know what they want and how to give it to them.

As I explore in this whitepaper, the customer should be one of the core focuses for any financial institution developing an omni-channel strategy. But understanding what customers want and coming up with an effective plan to meet their expectations isn’t easy.

Here are some of the key customer-related challenges your business will face as it embarks on the journey towards omni-channel service.

Knowing your customer

How can you ensure that you are really engaging with your customers and developing a clear, reliable understanding of what they expect from their bank? One fundamental step is to come up with a comprehensive model that enables you to create a detailed profile of your customers and their behavior.

In order to understand and segment your customers, it’s important to have a clear picture of everything from their age, gender, cultural background and income to their typical spending and saving habits.

It’s also extremely useful to know how certain customer profiles and groups are likely to engage with their bank. For example, what existing products do they hold, what sort of products are they interested in and what is their preferred method of communication?

Gathering these sorts of details and using them effectively will help to ensure that your business offers appropriate products and services at the right time. This is mutually advantageous for the customer and the bank.

In a report that grouped more than 32,000 customers into segments, EY said this sort of segmentation “provides a unique lens and highlights opportunities to consider segment-based strategies to more effectively invest bank resources based on those segments that are currently prevalent in one’s customer base, or are targets for future prospecting”. [Winning through Customer Experience: EY Global Consumer Banking Survey]


Developing a strong understanding of what your customers want is a fundamental element of personalization, a concept that is attracting more and more attention in the retail banking industry.

The new generation of smaller, more agile banks, such as Atom in the UK, are using technology to deliver bespoke financial services that are contextually relevant to the customer. The aim is to provide a service tailored to the individual, as opposed to the customer simply having to accept whatever the bank is offering.

Given its importance as part of the modern customer experience, personalization needs to be at the heart of any omni-channel strategy. In order to deliver a truly personalized, relevant service, banks should be striving for a productive dialogue with their customers, rather than being preoccupied with sales and revenue.

“As opposed to the traditional product upsell mentality, optimal engagement relies on knowing what behaviors will enhance the customer-bank relationship (e.g. app downloads, clicking to chat, redeeming an offer, watching research videos), which may not always take the form of another transaction or product. Developing this knowledge requires an understanding of consumer expectations by segment. The greater the shift from broad segmentation to micro-segmentation to one-to-one targeting using customer data insights, the greater the impact.” [McKinsey: The New Rules for Growth through Customer Engagement]

Balancing ‘inside-out’ and ‘outside-in’

The fundamental goal of omni-channel transformation is to deliver maximum convenience and efficiency for the customer by providing a seamless experience across channels. When designing this experience, it’s beneficial to seek a balance between two approaches: ‘inside-out’ and ‘outside-in’.

The ‘inside-out’ philosophy places an emphasis on what your organization is hoping to achieve. What, exactly, does the customer experience that you are striving to deliver look like? What products and services are you most interested in promoting to your customers, and how is your proposition distinct from that of your competitors?

‘Outside-in’, on the other hand, gives you an insight into how the customer views your brand, helping to build up a picture of the differences between ‘perceived’ and ‘real’ value to the customer. This often requires measures such as surveys, customer interviews and mystery shopping.

Striking the right balance between these approaches could be the key to creating an omni-channel experience that is truly rewarding for your customers and for the business.


Image: iStock/Kerkez

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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