Omni-channel banking: How retail banks should put customer experience first

Omni-channel banking: How retail banks should put customer experience first

With a constant stream of technological innovation, every device – from televisions to wristwatches – is becoming a potential interface for banking transactions. As the number of potential channels continue to grow, so does the complexity and functionality of each.

This growth in channels has led to increased customer expectations. Customers expect their bank to provide a unified experience – with the right look and feel, along with targeted functionality – consistent across all channels.  

How is Omni-channel different from multi-channel banking?

Multi-channel banking means that a bank offers services to its customers through more than one channel, which can typically include branch, ATM, call centers, internet banking and mobile apps. Because these channels are often developed separately, the inevitable inconsistencies result in a disjointed user experience.

Omni-channel banking provides an integrated approach for customer interactions in sales, transactions or personal service. Omni-channel banking improves customer experience across all platforms by ensuring that when customers interact with their bank the services, functionality and outcomes will be standard across all channels.  

The importance of customer experience

One of the key components of a winning omni-channel presence is communicating a strong recognizable brand across every channel. A bank’s brand should be reflected visually as well as experientially in the same way, whether it’s in-branch, at the ATM or on a mobile banking app.

The delivery of cross-channel consistency will lead to improved customer experience, satisfaction and loyalty. It is not enough to create a solid strategy for each channel; banks must adopt a holistic approach.   

Implementing omni-channel banking

While the multi-channel banking model may direct customers to the least expensive channel, this siloed business approach is inconsistent, inefficient, costly and can lead to customer dissatisfaction. Adoption of omni-channel banking is essential to ensure that the customer experience is seamless, integrated and supports customers anytime and anywhere.

Implementing successful omni-channel banking requires insight into customer needs and the right IT infrastructure. Having a robust, reliable and resilient IT infrastructure is the most critical element of omni-channel banking, as it underpins the entire operation. Customers do not care about the back-office technologies that support their banking service – but banks definitely should.  

A bank’s IT infrastructure needs scalable and flexible design to meet the changing needs and expectations of the customer. Configuration should be application-centric to support the core processing system, new and existing systems and tools, and innovations coming on stream. Building a robust but flexible IT infrastructure can help banks meet regulatory requirements, manage risk and prepare for future growth, as well as deliver customer satisfaction.

Maintaining the trust of customers should be of high priority for banks; one security incident can cause irreparable damage to customer relationships. Implementing high security measures will not only provide customers with peace of mind, it will protect them from data breaches, cyber-attacks and help meet regulatory compliance.

But this is only one component of delivering to customer expectation, and is far from the most visible. The key to customer success today is consistent delivery of intuitive interfaces on any device – all the content and services they require to run their busy lives, at their fingertips.