Retail channels - competing and cannibalising?
15 April 2014
Over the years, the banking industry has been adapting to a consumer migration from bricks-and-mortar branches, to digital points of interaction. To handle this movement, banks have built up the range of functionality in each of their multiple channels to deliver the best possible customer experience: delivering 'multi-channel banking'. This approach has been intended to enable customers to use the most suitable channel for their needs.
However, in reality, this approach has not only hindered the customer experience, but in some cases, it has also resulted in conflicting competition between banking staff in the various channels.
Inter-channel competition - and sabotage
I know the case of a tier one bank which suffered as a result of different channels becoming protective of 'their' customers and sales in order to achieve their siloed targets. Branch staff feared the impact of contact centre staff 'poaching' their customers and sales. As a result, they habitually captured phone numbers incorrectly. This meant that customers could not be proactively contacted by the bank's contact centre - leading to poorer customer service.
Channel silos lead to poor customer service
Similarly, in another bank, a multi-channel strategy was driving a bad customer experience when customers were applying for a new mortgage. Customers could initiate their mortgage applications online, but if they had a question and called the contact centre, their online application was cancelled and a new application was opened by the contact centre staff. The customer was then unable to access or review their application online again. This particular problem was driven both by channels competing for sales targets as well as inflexible, siloed bank systems. Consequently, customers were frustrated - when they would have otherwise chosen to self-service online. This also proved inefficient for the bank, as they transferred a self-service customer into a manual - and thus higher cost - application.
These stories are common examples of multi-channel strategies that are failing and having a detrimental impact on customer service. To address this, a shift from multi-channel (old and siloed) to omni-channel (integrated and mutually reinforcing) needs to occur.
The omni-channel solution
Omni-channel banking joins up the technological silos (branch, contact centre, online, mobile etc). Omni-channel banking provides a seamless and consistent customer experience across and between all channels, making it easier and quicker for a customer to gain access to new financial products and services. Customers should be able to start an application or complex transaction in one channel. Then if they need person to person support, they should be able to access that support conveniently, and without being migrated entirely out of their original channel of choice. Omni-channel allows the bank to gather information to create a detailed picture of the customer's behaviour. This efficient approach to channel can deliver much-needed bottom line benefits and provide banks with a pragmatic way to unify technological silos and compliment the customer journey.
Have you had any experiences of silos with the multi-channel approach?
Do you see omni-channel as the way forward?