CX Implications for Financial Service Omni-Channel Strategies

When implementing and omni-channel engagement strategy, consider the entire customer experience.

by John Godwin

Several of my clients are pursuing an omni-channel customer engagement strategy. Many firms see omni-channel as an acquisition strategy that can help widen the sales funnel and ensure more prospects make it all the way to purchase. While this is true, I feel that over the long term an omni-channel strategy benefits the entire customer experience, not just the acquisition portion of the lifecycle. The ability to meet customer needs through a variety of channels has obvious customer experience implications. Here are a few that are less obvious:

Implication 1: Integrate a channel seamlessly with your other channels or don’t have the channel at all

Does your customer facing staff know the features of your mobile app? On both iOS and Android? Could your customer facing staff help a customer with a question about your app? The lesson here is simple—if you are going to have a customer engagement channel, make sure it’s integrated well with your other channels. Have you ever tried to call Amazon? Good luck with that. Ever get snail mail from Amazon? Amazon has a few very robust channels (web and mobile) and completely avoids other channels. A word of caution, this doesn’t mean you should immediately eliminate all existing under-performing channels. Great care should be taken when eliminating anything that provides value to the customer.

Implication 2: Expect technology investment to enhance the free flow of information

Fundamentally, for financial services companies, omni-channel strategies are about providing the right information, to the right person, at the right time. Most of today’s FS infrastructure is product and account focused. Infrastructure designed in this manner is limiting and creates many of the dreaded silos that omni-channel strategies are aimed at overcoming. Unfortunately, there is no technology magic bullet to create the omni-channel experience; investment and innovation will be required.

Implication 3: Focus on eliminating channel breaks in addition to building omni-channel capabilities

Even more than a clunky experience, customers dislike being forced to switch channels to get their need met. “Forced channel breaks” occur when a customer is forced to switch engagement channels to complete a task. A simple example could be changing an address for an insurance policy. Suppose the customer wished to perform this change online but the insurance provider’s online portal does not provide this functionality. The customer would be forced to switch to another channel that can handle this type of request. As you pursue omni-channel, be sure to look for opportunities to eliminate forced channel breaks.

Implication 4: Omni-channel is about reducing customer effort

Many organizations find tackling the omni-channel mission daunting. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted from the mission at hand, which is to make it easier for your customers to conduct business with your firm. The goal of any omni-channel program should be to make it easy and dead simple to transact with your company. Consider implementing tracking metrics like Customer Effort Score as a means to track the effectiveness of your omni-channel strategy.

Implication 5: Unify brands before pursuing omni-channel

Many financial service companies have multiple brands spanning a variety of products. Customers form expectations based on brands and may be confused and concerned by omni-channel capabilities that span multiple brands. Imagine the dismay a customer may have to find out that a company/brand they have never heard of has access to their checking account balance! Many customers will not realize the corporate relationship between the brands and would be alarmed by this type of omni-channel capability.

The execution path for the omni-channel strategy can be especially difficult for financial service companies due to a legacy of siloed systems and organizations. Do you need someone to bounce your ideas off, or help just getting started? We would love to continue the conversation.

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John Godwin
John Godwin
Customer Service Lead
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