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The Multichannel World: Customer Interaction in Today’s Financial Services Sector

For businesses of all sectors and regions, communication and interaction with customers is changing at a rapid pace. In this three-part blog series, we’ll be looking at where we are now and how this will transform as we move into the future. 

Going forward posts we’ll discuss the exciting developments made possible by omnichannel and multimodal approaches to customer service – but first, let’s remind ourselves of where we are now; living in a multichannel world… 

First designed half a century ago, the cash machine has fundamentally changed the way the world’s consumers manage their money. It was, however, an idea with an inauspicious beginning; inspired by chocolate vending machines, John Sheppard-Barron famously pitched the idea to Barclays Bank over a glass of pink gin. 

Then, as now, customer demand was the catalyst of innovation, with Sheppard-Barron being led to ponder the problem after falling foul of his own bank’s closing time. The shift was seismic and placed the banking industry on a path towards 24/7, customer-centric operations; one that it has followed faithfully throughout the last fifty years.

Modern Thinking

This approach has now brought us to the current era for the sector. Gone are the days of customers impatiently waiting for their branch to open, standing in endless queues, or being left without cash after arriving late. Today’s customers expect more: they feel their relationship and engagement with their financial service provider must be on their own terms. Consumers are now used to taking an active role in interacting with services, and so banking processes have been forced to change. 

The multichannel approach was developed to answer these demands. At its heart, multichannel banking means that customers are now able to interact and engage with their bank’s services whenever they want, however they want, and through whichever device they feel most comfortable – whether that be through their desktop, tablet, landline, or even via snail mail. Indeed, more traditional channels, such as phone, SMS message and web chat, have been overtaken by self-service options, including mobile apps or website FAQs. 

Digital Demands

Multichannel has been a fixture in the mainstream for the last five years, and as it has evolved we have seen the emergence of social media service channels within the financial services industry – with many businesses opting to liaise with customers via social platforms like Facebook or Twitter. 

Choice is crucial, placing customers in the driving seat when it comes to building a relationship with their bank. At its core, the model aims to help consumers build confidence in the brands they use, speaking with them on their own terms. 

Multichannel is only the beginning of the story. The next step is to evolve your multichannel approach into an omnichannel experience – something that’s easier said than done! Come back next month to hear more…


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