Getting back to basics: Let omni-channel engagement form the basis of your bank’s transformation

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Having become used to frictionless, streamlined digital services, most customers are all too aware of what superior customer engagement and service feels like. The customer-focused efforts of digital natives are constantly pushing the bar higher, while most banking institutions’ customer experiences continue to lag behind. A raft of new digital innovations have enhanced, but not yet transformed, the relationship and experience between a bank and their customers. How do we know this? The constant attrition rates in the industry tell us that something is wrong.

So with that in mind, it’s time to get back to what makes a relationship work: truly listening and being responsive. For banks, this means each touch point should not start and stop by simply serving customers – each touch point needs to engage them. Whether they complete an online form or talk with a branch employee, the customer is constantly recording and accessing how they feel about each experience – how are you addressing the totality of their engagement?

Not that banks aren’t trying – they understand the importance of delivering positive experiences across all their channels. In a survey conducted by Backbase, almost 64% considered stronger customer engagement to be the biggest benefit of omni-channel banking. Indeed, getting this right is a key part of engaging in an effective way. Examples of how this can happen are:

  • Turn touch points into engagement points
    The key to engaging is acknowledging that all customers are not the same. People consume banking services differently, and to cater to this, banks must optimize and personalize all contact points individually. Each channel should offer the best experience possible. It’s not about looking good with clever digital add-ons, it’s about being relevant and truly helpful. Smart, omni-channel experiences go a long way towards convincing a customer their current bank is trying to take an active role in supporting them in their financial lives. Banks must engage across all channels – be they digital or human. This begins with stepping into the customer’s shoes. Banks should experience the customer journey, root out any issues, and fix them. Walking through each channel and moving across them will expose where breakdowns occur and provide some interesting revelations. Armed with this information, banks can fill in any gaps and use smart technologies to optimize the performance of every touch point. As part of this, banks should consider the individual customer as much as possible. This means understanding that customers want to navigate different channels or combinations of them at different times. Starting a mortgage application on their mobile, picking it up later on their desktop machine and finalizing in the branch should be something they can do quickly and with ease.

  • Use technology to make life easier
    The key to engaging people is empowering them. Aside from providing the right information, smart technologies empower both customers and staff to create more engaging experiences. Customers can personalize and automate banking services, while dynamic forms or dynamic process management empower employees by automating day-to-day aspects of their job. Empowerment aside, digital technologies just make the experience better with simplified digital forms, automated approvals, and proactive assistance. All of this makes interacting with the bank straightforward, faster and altogether more productive.
  • Crunch data
    To create customized experiences that engage customers, banks must mine and analyze big data to truly understand their needs. This means extracting data from sources like CRM, user profiles, or even online search behavior, and turning it into meaningful insights. Using cognitive computing to gain deeper insights, this permits financial institutions to gather and crunch data, while AI and machine learning analyses trends and behaviors to actively predict requirements. Banks can then optimize every solution they offer a client and show a deep understanding of their needs. Smart technologies like cognitive can also highlight danger accounts, showing where a customer is losing interest, so banks can intervene. There is no need to become bogged down by new, difficult-to-understand technologies either. Banks can seek out support and guidance as they refine their strategies and approach to engagement. The appropriate technology partner will help them progress quickly and deliver on what customers want.
  • Agility is key
    Banks are generally prevented from getting traction in their engagement efforts by their existing systems. Many are bounded by a classic IT setup and huge monolithic systems, too rigid to handle a constant flow of new channels, products or features. Long deployment processes limit technology releases to a few each year – completely out of line with today’s market demands. Banks need more flexibility, but assuming throwing out current core systems is not a realistic option, how can they build in the agility they need? A modular architecture, where different building blocks are reused and swapped around to create new functionalities will create this flexibility. With modular, adding or changing features, products and channels is done quickly, without huge deployment efforts. Most banks won’t have such a Lego-style building block architecture in place, but simply adding on a digital orchestration layer achieves the same effect. Singular, massive deployments can be replaced with Continuous Integration or Continuous Deployment (CICD), where a pipeline of improvements are automatically rolled out.

Engage forever

To keep engaging customers, whatever changes come their way, banks need to bring all the pieces together and offer them everything they need. This may mean using open APIs to partner with fintechs and other third parties to add products or services they don’t have the capacity to create. A bank can strive to become the go-to dashboard for all a customer’s financial needs, giving them all the more reason to engage with them.

The retail bank’s foremost objective is to satisfy each customer on an ever-increasing number of their engagements with the bank. If banks want to retain their hard-won customers and achieve true digital transformation, they must stay tuned into the needs of each one. As with everyday communication, when a bank shows genuine interest in their customer, that customer will respond. Authentic patterns of engagement can form the foundation of loyalty as well as drive higher return on the banks omni-channel transformation investments.

Learn more about BackBase here.
Learn more about IBM solutions for banking here.
Learn more about IBM iX digital reinvention here.

 Omni-Channel Digital Banking, CEO & co-founder of Backbase

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