Retail banks have much in common with retail merchants. Both are consumer-facing businesses that, in one form or another, take peoples money in exchange for goods and services.
On a structural level, the same issues that merchants have are the same that banks have. As such, the same advice that is given to merchants—update the infrastructure, embrace the omnichannel, build personalization systems etc.—is the same for banks.
Omnichannel for retail banks is a bit different than for merchants. Banks have different channels that merchants do not necessarily have to deal with.
All The Omnichannels Banks Need To Know
The primary channels that banks need to update to deal with customers anywhere and everywhere include:
Branches: Physical locations need to be able to aggregate and act upon consumer and bank data seamlessly, enabling tellers and representatives to customize the experience to each customer that walks in the door.
Mobile: Provide a seamless access to customers through both native smartphone applications and the mobile Web. Includes the ability to communicate with the bank with any issues, check balances, make transfers and so forth. The customer should be able to do everything through a smartphone that they can do either at the branch or from a desktop browser.
Web: While banks should focus on building robust mobile experiences, the Web is still a major component in how people interact with brands on a daily basis. Banks should focus their efforts on the desktop Web on making information easy to find and actions (like paying off loans or bill pay) easy to navigate.
Email: Personalization is the biggest use case for email for retail banks. The interaction between the bank and the customer over email should be two-fold: provide account information and alerts (like suspicious activity) when customers need it while also offering personalized marketing offerings. For instance, the bank should know if I am in the market for a house … or if I am not.
Social: The social media landscape provides a wide array of surface area for banks to interact with customers. Social can be used as a marketing channel or for customer service. The key for banks (and really any other brands) on social channels is to listen and empathize with customers and help direct them to the right solutions.
Bots: Facebook claims that the use of automated bots through its Messenger platform can reduce calls to customer service centers by 50%. The best use of bots for brands like banks in 2017 is for customer service, the ability to answer easy questions and triage customer queries and point them in the right direction.
ATM: For many people, the ATM is the primary touch point between the bank and the customer. Visiting an ATM should provide all the solutions that a person would find on a mobile app or in a branch. To update ATMs to offer personalized experiences to each individual requires a significant investment in both backend infrastructure and physical machines.
Call centers: Despite the increase in people interacting with banks through digital channels like mobile, desktop and bots, the call center is still an important aspect of customer service especially for older patrons and people with more complex problems. Updated infrastructure that breaks the silos between data channels will enable call center employees to more effectively serve customers.
Agents: People have specialized needs. Some people may come into a bank to deposit a check while other people need to get or refinance a mortgage. Bank agents need to be able to aggregate all the information from the omnichannel on the fly to be able to serve specific customer needs at the moment of interaction.
Third parties: In the current digital era, a brand or company needs to be the hub of a large wheel with lots of spokes. For banks, reaching outside of the core brand includes adopting technology from the emerging FinTech landscape, white labeling products or providing data, cash flow, functionality to third parties. A good example is in the payments landscape where banks can partner with companies like Apple, Google, Visa or Mastercard to enable payments via bank-owned apps or third parties like Venmo or Android Pay.