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Why Channel Switching Doesn't Matter Anymore: The Need for Omnichannel in a Multi-Screen World

 Customer satisfaction is a drastically different game than it was a few years ago. Today, consumers expect companies we interact with to provide us a consistent, relevant experience when we shop and to remember our preferences.  As consumers ourselves, how many of us have been pestered by retail clerks to open a line of credit with a company every time we shop there? As if being asked more times will cause us to change our minds, when in fact the opposite is probably occurring - the more times we’re asked, the more frustrated we become.

This attitude is becoming increasingly common among consumers. According to Avaya research, customers increasingly expect an omnichannel, personalized and proactive customer experience. Further, 69% of those surveyed say that they “expect to be treated as unique -- contacted the way they want, when they want with products and services tailored to their preferences and shopping habits”. Now more than ever it’s critical that companies work to create relevant experiences for consumers via whichever channel they may be using.


Our Multi-Screen World

Google recently published a study aimed at understanding consumer behavior across multiple devices, calling ours the “new multi-screen world”. The study shows how often consumers use multiple devices either sequentially or simultaneously. Consumers change devices multiple times throughout the day and often start and finish the same activity on different devices.

Service providers need to make sure that their user experience is consistent across different devices, and not only allow but encourage this cross-device interaction. Ecommerce sites do this by providing either a cart feature associated with the account, rather than device, or browsing history like Amazon.

However, this idea goes beyond ecommerce. Our multi-screen mentality doesn’t change depending on which industry we are interacting with, because we are constantly jumping between channels or using multiple channels simultaneously. So it is important for companies in every industry to focus on creating an experience that flows from activity to activity and across any device.

This study mentions financial services specifically, saying that 59% of all financial management activities were started on a smartphone, then 56% of those activities were continued or finished on a PC.

From this graphic it is clear that financial institutions don’t escape the need for an omnichannel experience. In fact, because channel switching is so common during financial activities, financial institutions must pay particular attention to creating a unified experience across channels and devices.

A Step Above Multi-Channel

In previous years a lot of emphasis has been placed on creating a “multi-channel” experience. However, this shouldn’t be confused with an omnichannel strategy. The basis of a multi-channel strategy is simply expanding the range of services so account holders have more options and the ability to choose which best fits their preferences.

Omnichannel goes far beyond that, by incorporating technology that remembers those preferences so that the experience is continuous amid channel switches. In this model, the channel actually becomes irrelevant – the only role these different channels then play is in providing more opportunities for consistent interaction with the account holder, so they come to recognize the institution’s brand as a capable and convenient solution to their financial needs.

A Groundwork of Big Data

Through Personal Financial Management (PFM), institutions can take the concept of omnichannel banking to a whole new level by retaining data not only about account holders’ interactions with them, but with any other institutions their account holders may use. Adopting institutions are able to gather a wealth of information about the services their customers or members use through their competitors, and then are able to incentivize them to abandon existing loans and accounts in favor of those with better rates at the participating institution.

This is part of why 75% of the 500 credit union executives polled by Aite Group said that online PFM tools would be a must-have by the end of 2013. PFM provides Big Data insight previously not available to financial institutions, and in this innovate-or-fail industry, leveraging this data lays a solid groundwork for creating personalized digital experiences for account holders.


Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/carlos-pacheco/13651624315