Despite the significant challenges faced by the UK’s banking sector over the last decade, there has been a dramatic evolution in the customer experience provided following the introduction of online, telephone and mobile banking. While the branch remains an important channel, especially for older customers, mobile technology is rapidly redefining how customers interact with their banks.
An omni-channel experience is not only now possible, but it’s what customers expect. With continuous technological advancements and an increasingly financially-savvy customer base, these expectations will continue to evolve. In this multi-channel era, people want information at the touch of a button, advice tailored to their specific needs, and the ability to seamlessly switch between channels during an interaction without having to start the process again.
The way we bank now
Digital technology has changed the way we will bank forever. The British Banking Association (BBA) released a report in March 2014, which shows that customers of the five biggest retail banks have:
- Downloaded more than 12.4 million banking apps.
- Used their mobile phones for 18.6 million transactions a week in 2013 (up from 9 million in 2012).
- Made nearly 40 million mobile and online internet transactions a week in 2013.
- Had 28.4 million debit and credit cards have been fitted with contactless technology.
- Signed up more than 457.7 million SMS balance alerts and other text messages during 2013.
- Continually improving technology provides an opportunity for banks to engage with their customers across multiple channels and provide a great customer service in the digital age.
It is evident that most customers still value face-to-face interaction in banking, with the ‘branch location’ being one of the main factors considered when customers choose a bank. Plus, a great branch experience provides the best chance to turn a customer into a promoter.
However, it is also clear that today’s customer likes to conduct their financial activities quickly, easily, and at a time that suits them.
Google Research has shown that 46% of people switch channels whilst managing their finances online. Customers are increasingly using multiple channels to gather insight before making informed purchases.
Instead of offering customers the ability to transact through various separate channels, banks need to provide a seamless customer experience that allows a single transaction to occur across multiple channels at a time suited to the customer which will enhance the user experience. Regardless of where a banking interaction starts – whether it is in branch, mobile or online, a customer should be able to switch channels throughout to receive a consistent and compelling experience.
Playing to strengths
The winners in this new omni-channel world will be those that can create immersive experiences by successfully integrating channels to draw upon their individual strengths as a bank.
As part of the omni-channel experience, banks must create a consistent, compelling and informative dialogue across all channels. This approach requires a strong brand identity, parallel messaging, more personalised customer service and better business intelligence in the form of a centralised database. There is a significant opportunity for the banks that can adapt to this by investing and utilising new technologies to provide a premier customer experience that unifies all channels.
Successful banks in the omni-channel era will excel at selective targeting, guiding customers through a relevant channel for a specific activity, while retaining the flexibility for serving each individual customer according to their individual preferences.
The pressure is on for banks to react to on-going technological changes and provide customers access to their financial information, when and where they want, and through the channel of their choice.
While it can seem a challenge for established banks to manage the roll out an omni-channel approach, the rewards of keeping up with customers’ online and mobile behaviour could prevent banks from being left behind in our digital world. Customers and the industry are no longer asking if banks will integrate their channels, but how and when.
Good news for banks is that work is already underway to streamline systems, offer access to multiple sources of internal and external data, and provide a single customer view to improve risk and regulatory assessment. This presents a solid foundation for moving into the world of customer centric omnichannel banking.
Those that get this right will be well placed to succeed over the next decade and beyond. Will you be one of the winners?
This article is from our monthly Credit Digest publication. To read more, please click here.