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09:17 AM
Ross Wainwright, SAP
Ross Wainwright, SAP

All Roads Lead to the Omnichannel

How to chase the savvy banking customer through an omnichannel strategy.

The notion of a customer doing business with only one bank through a single sales channel is as archaic as the idea of stuffing money under the mattress. Innovations in mobile and online banking have created a much savvier banking customer; this customer is harder to sell to and quicker to move on to another bank when they see a more innovative or satisfactory service.

Ross Wainwright, SAP
Ross Wainwright, SAP

Banks are responding by fortifying how and where they interact with customers. The omnichannel approach is a strategy of harmonizing all of a bank’s touch points to their customers – ATM, mobile device, social media, teller, internet, phone, etc. – to create a unified customer experience. Data on each individual customer interaction is centralized and made available to key decision-makers in a bank, in order to create custom-tailored solutions that speak to the sophisticated customer. An omnichannel approach unlocks new cross-selling/upselling opportunities and the ability to push promotional offers in real-time. For customers, it means a greater degree of autonomy and improved services, which creates the ideal banking experience that customers are looking for.

Implementing an omnichannel strategy requires a total redefinition of banking architecture towards new revenue generators. Years of building atop legacy systems have resulted in siloed systems that are only tangentially connected. This has created a common banking experience; one that can’t fully leverage all the data within any one channel or across many channels, let alone at the individual, customer level.

Here are some basic tips to help banks get started in creating a true omnichannel experience for their customers:

-- The Customer Experience is the Nexus of the Omnichannel: Omnichannel is more than just combining touch points; it puts the customer experience front and center within all banking interactions. The customer experience dictates the form and direction of the banking channel. Banking systems must be reengineered to satisfy banking clients first and foremost.

-- Cross Functional Team: Create a committee dedicated to synchronizing channels and identifying new sources for revenue. This should be a diverse group consisting of business and IT personnel from within a bank and outside experts with specialties ranging from mobility, the internet, system integration, social media, and customer relationship management, amongst others. This committee would be tasked with defining standards on pricing, account lines, and tiers that will be shared across systems.

-- Centralized, Integrated Systems: Turn to vendors that can offer an open and integrated stack incorporating core systems, channels and analytics. Banks must go beyond simple batch processing and pull from the full scope of all their touch points. Detailed data organized in a single location will expedite personalized customer offers in real-time.

-- Leave Room to Scale: Since customer demand is always changing, consider a platform that is highly scalable with the ability to easily add new systems and channels; not only native channels but external ones like Twitter or Facebook. A cloud-based platform can provide this wide flexibility while reducing any costly spends on extra hardware.

-- Layer an Analytics Engine on Top: An analytics engine is the “traffic cop” in an omnichannel platform, making sure that processes are executed properly between channels and services. It aggregates all the data produced within the channel, pulls out key insights, and ensures that it is reused to improve the customer experience. An analytics engine powers personalized offers, suggests upselling opportunities, dictates rewards programs, and provides the necessary intelligence behind self-service products. Seek out technologies that provide real-time information, which will provide the speed and opportunity savvy banking customers have come to expect.

-- Rapid Deployment Options: A legacy system overhaul can be a daunting project that many banks will frown upon due to the risk of downtime and regulatory hurdles. If the implementation window is problematic, consider vendors that offer omnichannel components as part of a package that can be rapidly deployed. Usually these are pre-integrated solutions that have been tested and proven ahead of time for a fast implementation with clearly-defined costs. Some vendors offer a cloud-based ramp up program where data from previous systems can be uploaded offline without impacting current business operations.

Following these steps will get banks on the path towards automating and orchestrating customer interaction across touch points. An omnichannel strategy should create growth and transform each channel into a venue for marketing, selling, and meeting the unique needs of every customer. Remember, transforming the customer experience is the end goal; channel transformation is just a means to that end.

Ross Wainwright, Global Head of Financial Services Industries at SAP

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