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Are you really doing omnichannel?

Omnichannel is deeper than a seamless user experience

Omnichannel banking ranges further than many institutions' execution of the concept. Omnichannel banking ranges further than many institutions' execution of the concept.

Banks know that customers who use multiple channels are more engaged and generate more revenue for them, but many institutions aren’t building true omnichannel organizations.

Over the past few years, as omnichannel has become a trending topic in the industry, many players have zeroed in on the digital customer experience. This focus has come at the expense of more important aspects of the omnichannel model.

Where omnichannel often comes out

For many institutions, the most important piece of omnichannel banking is providing a seamless customer experience across self-service channels, including online, mobile, and ATM.

That has also extended across business lines too, as banks seek to create a unified user experience across these channels for their retail, lending, mortgage, wealth management, and commercial operations. An annual survey of banking executives released last year by Efma found that 78% and 79% of the organizations involved were growing their innovation budget devoted to customer experiences and channels, respectively, more than any other areas.

Offering such a seamless user experience can help simplify tasks for customers like finding information through online and mobile portals, but it only scratches the surface of what omnichannel means.

To reap the full benefits of this model, banks must go much deeper.

What “going deeper” means

The key is making a bigger effort to extend that seamless experience to physical branches and call centers. Breaking down data silos between all of these challenges brings the coveted “360-degree view” of the customer. These tasks require overcoming significant challenges for many banks, but are crucial to maximizing customer satisfaction and engagement—and uncovering new sales opportunities.

As banks have been investing in providing the kinds of smooth digital experiences that customers have come to expect from the likes of Apple, Google, and Amazon, they’ve been increasing customer expectations around how convenient a banking interaction should be.

However, those expectations can lead to disappointment if they aren’t met in the physical branch and call center as well. If customers grow accustomed to finding their financial information at their fingertips once they log into their mobile banking app, they’ll be undoubtedly frustrated when it takes a branch or call center representative a long time to find the necessary information to answer their questions or solve their problems.

No company has better understood the importance of consistency between physical and digital customer experiences than Apple. It has extended the premium user experiences its devices are known for to its Apple Stores.

Creating such consistency requires leveraging technology. But it also requires training branch and call center personnel to optimize every customer interaction for the convenience that customers have come to expect from digital.

“Deeper” goes internally too

Additionally, that seamlessness that banks associate with omnichannel needs to extend to the back-end to fully understand customer needs and capture additional revenue. Only by breaking down data silos between channels can banks see the customer’s full activity and past interactions across both physical and digital channels, making this a necessity for unifying the customer experience across them.

For example, if a customer has an appointment at the branch to apply for a personal loan, the branch representative should know if the customer had already attempted to fill out an application online, and, if so, pick the transaction up from there.

Moreover, breaking down data silos to gain a full view of the customer allows banks to gain new sales by tracking customer activity across channels to uncover needs and deliver timely, personalized messages.

What could this look like? A customer searching on the bank’s site for credit card offers could receive a notification to instantly complete a pre-filled application for a card recommended based on their past transactions. This would take much of the friction out of the search and application process, and help banks move more complex transactions from their physical channels to digital ones, where those transactions cost far less to process.

Where the hold-up lies

However, capturing these opportunities requires banks to overcome the biggest obstacles they face in innovation. Efma’s survey last year found that banks’ two most significant innovation challenges are in systems integration and dealing with their legacy technology portfolios.

These two challenges are typically linked, because integrating new digital applications with back-end legacy systems that support physical channels and store customer records is a costly and time-consuming struggle for many banks’ IT organizations.

However, banks can gain an upper hand on the competition if they take advantage of emerging technologies, including cloud and application programming interfaces, to open up their data and overcome these integration challenges to build truly omnichannel organizations with better customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Paul Schaus

Paul Schaus is CEO & President at CCG Catalyst. Follow CCG Catalyst on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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