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Lane Martin - Capco

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Empower your 'people' to execute your omnichannel vision

29 April 2014  |  3236 views  |  0

It’s old news that the customer journey has changed in the last decade and continues to evolve as new digital channels are introduced or enhanced. Customers now expect to bank on their terms. This drives banks to act more holistically to ensure the customer and their interactions are fluid regardless of channel. This is a logical perspective for customers, but what about bank employees? Can all employees act holistically for the customer? Is it so easy? We’re afraid not, given the infrastructure and cultures that have evolved over the past half-century. Operating with customer centricity, which is fundamental for delivering Omnichannel, will require new thinking, focus and revamped incentives to promote widespread adoption within an organization.

Executing an Omnichannel vision requires alignment across people, process, technology, data and physical space. For the purposes of this blog, the focus will be on the ‘People’, and more specifically, front-line employees who are able to make or break an organization’s Omnichannel effectiveness.

There are several factors existing today that perpetuate channel siloes and encourage employees to represent their specific channel rather than the FI holistically.

Training - How often is training isolated to one channel based on where that employee fits within the organization? Does your organization provide on-going formal training to front-line employees on new technology features and functionalities, benefits of switching the customer to a digital channel such as mobile, new products or services added to the bank’s portfolio or even on customer experience?  

Research by the Aberdeen Group in early 2013 indicates that a very small percentage of ‘Followers’ compared to the ‘Leaders’ in the Retail industry have a formal multi-channel customer engagement training program. How likely are employees in all channels able to provide a consistent customer experience if they don’t understand their role within the organization or the benefits that the organization’s products offer to its customers?

Generic training programs and lack of on-going training leaves a gap in an employee’s skill-set and limits how they engage with customers. Earlier in 2013, British banks were told to set aside £16 billion to compensate customers who were mis-sold loan insurance. This example highlights the risks and consequences of having employees who provide customers with inaccurate information. Preventative investments on training can pay large dividends in avoided fines in the future. Substantial investments in technology and process reformation require follow-through to front-line employees in order to ensure objectives are met and the personal side of the brand is properly empowered to thrill customers.

Poor access to data - How is it that FIs can outfit customers with data and applications that are different than what an employee can access? Is it acceptable that a customer can enter a branch to ask a question about something that occurred online and rather than being able to address the question directly, both people call an online banking help desk together?

Products and services that operate in an Omnichannel world need to be addressable by all of the channels the customer needs. The legacy infrastructure of siloed banking operations has created an environment where systems don’t share real-time data fluidly and one channel is likely to be at a disadvantage compared to others. Front-line employees are impacted when their channel does not have the most current data and customers have access to more information than they do.

Mis-aligned incentives - Imagine this common scenario:  A phone representative speaks with a customer about getting a loan, the customer subsequently performs research on the company’s website, starts the loan application online, gets assistance from another representative via the 24-hour banking channel, and finally signs the loan documents in a branch. Chances are an organization recognizes the sale in the branch channel and the entire incentive is given to one channel. But is that fair? Does this approach reward the FI holistically?

When delivering Omnichannel services, there is a need for representatives in all channels to provide a consistent level of customer experience. How is that going to be possible if each employee is driven to close the sale in their channel and receive the incentive based on legacy rules? Incentives across channels must be aligned and all those who add value across the different customer touch-points should be recognized as well.

A resurgence in popularity of the Balanced Scorecard or another comprehensive performance management framework may be on the horizon to be more holistic with less internal debate. After all, performance metrics must support the organization’s vision and strategy. If not, the way that performance is currently measured and rewarded will perpetuate silo driven behaviour.

This blog has identified items to consider as an organization pursues an Omnichannel vision. The good news is that logic and people prevail. Executives must recognise that to achieve success in delivering customer centric products and services, empowering their people across the components above will create competitive advantage. To do so will require an aligned strategy, a shift from the norm, patience and diligence- but will be well worth the investment and help complement the major investments that are being made in technology and process reformation.

Do you agree that empowering front-line employees is a critical aspect for successful Omnichannel delivery? Please share your thoughts.

Priya Gupta, Senior Consultant at Capco, contributed to this article


“Omni-channel Workforce Management: A New Retail Reality.” Aberdeen Group (2013): 4. Print.

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