Omni-channel banking – Pillar 3 of the Customer OS

We already know that financial institutions need to complete their omni-channel implementations pretty quickly, and that a host of issues have been holding them back. Legacy IT systems and rigid, outdated cores are major impediments, and with the competition racing ahead, banks are literally running out of time.

The competition is not what it used to be either, banks are now facing into a decade where big techs like Google and Amazon enter the financial services arena. As they do so, banks are ill-equipped to fight their corner.

The traditional modus operandi is inherently inefficient, so much so that it stymies competitiveness. Functionality is created over and over again to cater for each product, service or channel, leading to a duplicated effort of such gargantuan proportions that major resources are depleted. Worse still, focus is taken off adding value for customers – and this is a key weakness.

Expensive personnel and systems keep this heavy machine lumbering along, while banks lose pace and fail to innovate fast enough. Facing tough competition from the big techs, who grew up free from outdated core systems, the situation for banks gets more and more precarious.

Doing everything once

It’s time to move beyond improving channels, to seeing them as part of a holistic omni-channel platform. Banks need to get to a place where everything is created once, then replicated and reused. This delivers massive both time and cost savings and customer experiences that make sense.

The reality today is that customers don’t really want channels anymore. A smart, integrated platform is worth so much more than each separate channel, no matter how good it is. Each one must contribute to the sum of its parts.

Customer first

It all begins with the customer, this is the mantra. As a key pillar of the Customer OS, omni-channel requires a customer-first mentality. Having seen what the customer wants, banks must evolve to match it. This is a far cry from what’s gone before, when banks created value and simply launched it onto the (often unsuspecting) market.

The traditional setup of network, legacy apps and distribution channels is not customer centric, and no longer relevant. The structure must change to place the customer at starting point. From there, banks can work back, moulding the various parts of their organization to deliver. New tools are needed, so it’s time to tap into the open banking marketplace, open APIs and big data – all should combine to support superb customer experiences.

This is not about setting up a new programme or fixing up channels, it’s about changing the very structure of the bank to bring everything together for the best impact.

Mobile

Mobile banking is huge and it is growing. It’s unique ability to facilitate real-time communications is the ultimate in customer centrism. An immediate resolution to queries is available via the smartphone, in fact, competitors already offer this. Mobile is complicated and it threatens to drag any digital transformation off on a never-ending tangent. Nevertheless, it is a vital part of the equation, so must be handled in the right way.

Seamless customer journeys

Once a customer has begun an application for a financial product, the process should be easy for them and cost-effective for the bank. This is omni-channel at it’s best, but that needs a good design behind it. The same rules apply as for designing organizational structures – customer is the starting point and they go from there. Companies like Uber, having thought about each pain point we experience in getting a taxi, have removed them all. That’s how they have grown so fast. It is players like this banks are up against, so they need to think in the same way.

It’s not over when the customer journey is created either, the setup must meet the challenge of the latest needs. Innovation and tweaking are constant, that’s how the offering remains relevant. Banks must make things the best, analyse how they measure up and continue to optimize.

Don’t improve customer’s lives – change them

Big techs like Google are leading the way with smart platforms that make sense for customer. Banks must go beyond offering services via divergent channels to changing customer’s lives with platforms that pretty much manage their financial lives. If this sounds like something that is very far away, that probably means it’s time to move faster than ever.