A Seamless Society Demands Omnichannel Banking

By Shane Ferrell

The digital evolution has brought new and uncharted challenges to financial institutions, namely keeping the consumer experience consistent across digital, mobile, ATM and in-branch channels. To help banks face these challenges, omnichannel banking has emerged as the solution.

The term “omnichannel banking” once was synonymous with digital — and later, mobile — banking, but it’s evolved to mean much more. A true omnichannel experience spans all platforms, providing not only consistency across channels, but also the ability to pause and resume activity without interruption to service or impression. Customers should feel secure in the knowledge that whatever method they choose — mobile banking technology, desktop, ATM or branch — the system with which they interact has the same “feel” to it, is equipped with the same knowledge about them and can offer the same helpful solutions based on that knowledge.

Today, financial institutions must strive to understand the avenues they can take toward implementing this concept into their own strategies.

A Universal Experience

Today’s consumers expect the best from their products and services, and those offered by financial institutions are no exception. Companies like Netflix and Amazon have laid the groundwork for consumer expectations of a universal and consistent experience. For example, a Netflix user always knows that he will receive the same viewing experience whether he’s on a smartphone, tablet or desktop, and that Netflix will pick up where he left off if he needs to pause — for two minutes or two weeks. And an Amazon Prime customer who orders a pair of shoes on a laptop will proactively receive suggestions via mobile app or email about additional products, based on that initial purchase.

With these high expectations at the forefront of an increasingly digital consumer base, it is imperative that financial institutions rise to the occasion by integrating channels and anticipating customer needs. Those that don’t may fall by the wayside.

Understand What I Need, Before I Do

Customers want simple, yet important elements from a banking relationship. They want a bank that helps them keep track of their money and provides easy-to-use tools to enhance their experience. But they also want their bank to understand them well enough to anticipate the tools or services they need. For example, if a teller realizes that a customer drives 20 miles to deposit checks three times per month, taking the time to explain remote deposit demonstrates to the customer that their time is valuable and their needs are understood. This directly ties in with the omnichannel concept, and a quality CRM software platform that analyzes customer data and anticipates their needs will yield loyal customers.

Don’t Forget the Branch Experience

While crucial, implementing relevant and innovative technology is only one part of the equation. A true omnichannel experience will include branch staff who know and understand the same things about the customer that a mobile app or CRM would. For example, if a customer starts to open a checking account online, the branch staff should be aware of it and be able to resume the account opening in person, when and if the customer visits the branch.

Too often there is a significant disconnect between a customer’s digital banking experience and an in-person visit to a branch, leading to consumer frustration, and ultimately dissatisfaction.

Driving Elevated Customer Expectations

The ability to engage customers across multiple levels of exposure, in a seamless and consistent manner, is essential to customer retention and satisfaction.

Financial institutions must consider this consistency in information, in feel, and in each channel’s understanding of the customer when partnering with third-party banking software providers. The banking platform that gives the fullest picture of the customer, offers the most seamless stop-and-start procedures for applications and inquiries, allows employees to anticipate customers’ needs, and provides the customer with a consistent look and feel across all platforms will yield better-informed employees and more satisfied customers.

For more information on implementing the omnichannel experience, download CSI’s free white paper, “Omnichannel Banking in a Seamless Society.”

©2012 Tim Long/Longshot Photos. All Rights Reserved.

Shane Ferrell serves as CSI’s vice president of digital strategy. In his role, he leads the strategic direction of CSI’s digital banking suite of products, which includes omnichannel, internet and mobile banking. During his nearly 15-year career with CSI, Shane has held various positions, from conversions to product management.

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