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An article relating to this blog post on Finextra:

Multi-channel banking strategies are failing to convince - CEB TowerGroup

Banks that invest in ensuring a consistent customer experience across all channels may be wasting their money, according to an analysis by CEB TowerGroup.

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Multi-channel or good channels?

I’m very struck by one quote from the Tower Group report on multi-channel,

"CEOs are realising that channel investments should be tied to specific experience goals and customers should be guided to the channel that best suits their needs".

I don’t want to be too harsh, but surely that was always the point of multi-channel?

As someone who works with the technology that enables multi-channel, I’ve seen some pretty crazy stuff in terms of proposed channel enablement. One of the nuttiest ideas I’ve been asked for was “…share trading capability for the street side ATM”, (just think of the interaction context, the experience and what that does for other customers in queue) but I’m sure readers could match or raise me for multi-channel madness!

There is, though, the risk of missing the point of multi-channel.  Just because sometimes it is done badly or done by strategy consultants who’ve never met a customer, it can be easy to miss the real benefits. Multi-channel is working well and genuinely transforming businesses, but it’s based around real customer needs and disaggregating the functionality from where it’s been historically tied to channel

Mortgage sales:

If ever there was a process that could benefit from true multi-channel, it is mortgage sales. As a regulated product, it can only be sold by qualified advisors. Thus, if a customer walks into a branch and wants a mortgage, the sales process often starts with sales pitch of “…make an appointment, go away and come back Thursday”. Not an optimal lead-capture process by any means!

Video offers the potential to transform this. The decline in mortgages due to the recession has perhaps delayed its implementation but that has also allowed the technology to mature and increase the pressure on organisations to lower their cost of sale. Video allows the customer to meet with a remote mortgage advisor at the first time of interaction with the branch.

It looks simple, but to make it truly work requires true multi-channel technology. It is contact centre technology (the sort that manages availability, routing and reporting) that is required to manage the video interaction and skills learned building the web channel that enable the process part of the interaction. Individually none of these elements are hard but bringing them together offers potentially very significant financial benefits to organisations that use video for remote experts.

A number of UK banks have run successful pilots and this is a very active area of multi-channel.


Internet banking and now mobile banking are well established, widely adopted and invaluable for a lot of basic access such as balance checking. The web also provide a very effective way for customers to perform complex transactions. These, though are primarily data channels, not interaction channels and they remain difficult to sell through or provide complex advice.

Integrating the web (and now mobile) with contact centre has long been seen as the solution but has proved stubbornly difficult. My low-light example (it definitely wasn’t a highlight!) was a UK bank who’d invested in “web chat” technology. It gave them a nice button on the website quickly, but it was cloud based and so didn’t meet the bank’s security standards. The result was five dedicated web agents not multi-skilled or rolled and handling only web chat. The bank could not share data with the 3rd party provider and so any channel integration or attempt to combine web and voice was impossible.

Two things have changed this dynamic hugely. First the rise of mobile devices means that many customers now access data from a voice enabled, mobile device. This is not a PC running windows but instead is from a whole range of operating systems and depends on browser technology. Web RTC is the emerging standard and offers a huge opportunity to integrate communications with web technology. Most leading vendors are exploring ways of bringing this browser based communications technology to connect into the contact centre.

For anyone who’d like to see some of these technologies in action, I’ll be on the BT stand at Contact Centre Expo next week (2nd/ 3rd October at Olympia).

Look forward to seeing any reader who fancies dropping by,


Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 28 September, 2013, 13:37Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I've experienced the introduction of new channels in at least three contexts over the past 15 years or so viz. Internet ERP in the late '90s, Internet Banking in the early '00s and Mobile Banking in the late '00s. Attribute it to hype-affected customers or strategy consultants sitting in ivory tower or whatever but, on each instance, the expectation from the new channel was identical: It must do everything that can be done on the existing channel. I understand this as "multichannel support".

It takes a few years for people to accept that each channel has its own strengths and that the best UX can be delivered by letting a single business process (e.g. buy mortgage product) hop across multiple channels in such a way that each channel plays to its strength and the customer finds each hop natural (e.g. get tipped off to a new product in social media, compare different products online, actually sign up for one product at branch). I call this "omnichannel support". 

As I'd highlighted in my personal blog post Jumping On The Omnichannel Banking Bandwagon a couple of years ago, multichannel banking is neither necessary nor feasible and omnichannel banking is the way forward. 

Alex Noble

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10 Jan 2008



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Innovation in Financial Services

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