Beyond iBeacon: Making Bank With Omni-Channel Experiences Customers Will Love

It’s easy for banks to assume that customers don’t want or won’t miss having an omni-channel experience with their banks – but they would be wrong. The trouble is that often the term omni-channel is misunderstood, misused or taken far too literally and applied to single interactions. Omni-channel isn’t only about using every new technology and channel at your disposal just because you can. The much-touted example of St. George bank in Australia using iBeacon to someone a personalized welcome message when they enter a branch is nice and innovative but it kind of misses point. Omni-channel experiences are about creating a relationship that is engaging, mutually beneficial, and capable of growing beyond a single interaction.

Don’t get me wrong, in-store alerts are great and they do work! A recent study from Swirl found that 67% of customers had received an alert on their smartphones in the last six months, of those 81% opened them, and 79% made a purchase as a direct result. The difference is that in the retail example, there is a definite call to action and immediate benefit. Banks who want to use this sort of push technology can’t just use it to greet people when they enter and not offer a benefit or add value to the experience. The same research found that of the people who ignored notifications 41% did so because they were not relevant, 37 % stated the offers did not offer enough value, and 16 %found them to be annoying.

That makes it tough for banks because the combination of location, personalization, benefit/action, and immediacy don’t really apply to branch visits. However, that’s not to say it’s impossible. Here are a couple of ideas on how banks can use their wealth of personal data, unique products and services, online and mobile presence, and brick-and-mortar branches, and combine them to create new types of experiences that will win over their customers’ hearts.

In-store alerts that save time, not waste it
If you’ve got the technology in place to send personalized messages to customers as they walk in the door, then you’ve got the know-how to do even more. Instead of just asking them if they’re there to see someone (well, duh) ask them what their purpose is and offer timely, relevant advice. Create a site that works as a digital assistant and link it to the welcome alert so that walk-in customers can enter the purpose of their visit and answer a few questions to discover whether or not they would be able to complete the purpose of their visit at that time, or so the teller could be fully, and quickly informed by the time the customer reached the counter. Similarly, the customer could enter the purpose of their visit and be informed about the documents required to accomplish their goal. Or, if they needed to see a specific person who was not available that day they would have the chance to immediately schedule an appointment. This would save customers valuable time and allow them to feel their needs had been acknowledged, if not fully met. At the same time the bank will have valuable new information about products or services the customers are interested in. Their interest can be logged and queued for customer service to follow up with via email or even phone.

Make apps that customers want to use – and not just for banking
Peoples financial lives encompass a few defining milestones that are truly defining moments for them. Some banks have realized that if they can be with people and support them throughout those moments, they will likely have a bond for life. Chase Bank is one bank that has been able to combine that realization with modern technology and create an experience that meets customers’ needs. Chase’s MyNewHome app isn’t just a mortgage calculator; it’s an interactive tool to help potential homebuyers search for homes, rate favorites, and compare features. Of course it also offers mortgage advice too.

My question is, why not go a step further? Why not take the opportunity to promote relevant products that will help customers buy their dream home? With the information gleaned from the app, banks are in the unique position to help people reach their dreams. If a customer who uses the app comes in for a store visit, an in-store alert should be sent to the advisor to check the app data before the meeting. If the customer has been looking at houses that are at present out of reach, why not also suggest the best saving plan with the highest return so the customer achieve a larger down payment?

By using the latest technologies available, the possibilities for banks to differentiate themselves, truly assist their customers, and win their hearts are practically limitless.

[Title image from The Independent]