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Is it really possible to have good customer experience through omni-channel banking?

Omni-channel banking is a hot topic, fuelled by the need to provide the best customer experience (CX) no matter what channel a consumer chooses, or how many times they chop and change between channels during a transaction. But is this utopia really possible?

I think the answer is yes, but it’s not going to be easy to accomplish.

Here’s a simple, real-life, experience from a different industry: health care. Living in the UK, it’s wet and cold right now (just like the summer I guess :-) and I’ve had “man flu” for just over 3 weeks. During that time, I have taken 6 flights (including a couple of Transatlantic trips), and my left ear has not popped back from nearly 2 weeks ago, giving me a bit of a “geriatric lughole”.

I contacted the doctors for an appointment by ringing them up (their “telephony” channel). The result? Engaged tone.

After several attempts on the phone, I gave up, fought traffic to the clinic (the “branch”), readjusted my “friendly mask” and requested an appointment at the front desk. The receptionist (the “teller”), with script-like efficiency, reeled off a well-versed statement that I had to “phone between 8am and 9:30am to get an appointment any sooner than 7 days’ time”.

So, in short, if you know you will still be ill in a weeks’ time, you have to book at the desk. If you are urgently ill, you have to battle the engaged tone (many many redials). If you are somewhere in between, you have to…..erm….

Forget about starting my appointment request on the web, progressing it on the phone and confirming with face to face. This was a basic functional request of a simple service. Each channel had its own rules on the functionality that it offers. And I, the consumer, somehow needed to be aware of these rules to transact. Throw into the mix an evil (in my opinion) receptionist intent only on seeing me in misery (luckily I couldn’t hear her snigger when I left as I was half deaf) and you have the basic challenge of omni-channel: it’s just plain complex to get right.

Health care (at least my example) is slightly more straightforward than consumer banking, with its channels such as branch, franchise branch, IVR, voice banking (telephony), internet and mobile banking. Sure, if the bank is among the few out there that is purely digital and providing only a mobile banking or online banking only experience then it might be a bit easier. But for the rest who focus on multiple consumer segments, the majority of the industry, that’s not an option.

Choosing the right plumbing is vital to enable that joined-up, efficient, and, above all else, enjoyable experience, which is needed if you want new customers, or existing customers to keep coming back…and to tell their friends on Facebook…and Twitter…and in the pub. You get the picture.



Comments: (3)

Stanley Epstein
Stanley Epstein - Citadel Advantage Ltd - Modiin 27 February, 2015, 13:11Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Dean Wallace’s ‘man flu’ experience is a great example of what can go wrong if you can’t get the multi channel approach right.  From what I am experiencing and hearing, very few banks are getting the whole picture right.

My wife’s recent experience is a case in point. Her new MasterCard arrived in the post, on one of those cardboard  holders. On the reverse were printed three ‘easy’ ways to validate the new card – either at the ATM or on the Internet or via the bank’s call centre. And then the trouble began. The ATM validation did not work. The internet validation was no good either (while we have joint account I am the only registered internet user) and the call centre had the same problem as the internet. So in the end she had to travel 50 kilometers to the branch to get the card validated. And what of a validation at a local branch of the bank? Well guess what? They weren’t allowed to do that.

Dean Wallace
Dean Wallace - ACI - Global 27 February, 2015, 14:431 like 1 like

Stanley, that's a great example. The fact the branch couldn't validate is exactly the type of challenge the banks face.

Consumers don't care about the omni-channel experience, that's jargon to most. What they need, expect and demand is that when they are dealing with the bank for key services (a card validate is a perfect example, given its necessity for the bank to make money from the consumer!) they expect to be able to interact with the bank in a way that is convenient to them, which may cover more than 1 channel to cover the plethora of consumer segments the bank serves. Your wife in essence had to learn the rules of the differences of the channels, resulting in a very badk customer experience. 

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 04 March, 2015, 18:301 like 1 like Deana. What a fabulous post - it really demonstrates to me how a business that doesnt have a strategy can upset both employees and customers alike. You know that a clear communication and even a single channel could work well in the financial sector just as well as a full "omni channel", but if customers dont know and the supporting fucntions arent bought in, then it wont work. Im spending a significant part of my time working with Banks/FI's on digital projects - and Nostrum can deliver probably some of best digital experiences out there right now. But, and there is always a but..the hardest part of the engagement can be getting the lenders to articulate or demonstrate the customer journey/experience, We have to remember that the customer is at the heart of everything we all do. btw - hope the man flu clears up!

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