Why companies offering financial services should make omnichannel experiences a top priority

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    Omnichannel is a concept that has been widely discussed amongst different industries and organizations for years, yet rarely in banking, does it surface publicly and is almost imaginary in its existence. While the world around us has picked up the realm of digitizing almost every touchpoint and footstep we take along the way in our daily lives, financial services seem to be a mile behind, in that while customers live online via banking applications, to financial advice and transactions, one size does not fit all. 

    Modern-day financial banking currently lives across offering the same set of services across multiple channels. Customers using financial services amongst its institutions have no doubt come across various multiple touchpoints, such as mobile and internet banking that moves to some extent with the everyday customer. Yet, such channels are consequently built in silos and offer a fragmented customer experience rather than fluid and unified. Omnichannel banking must come from a state of offering such financial services in a seamless and interconnected method that is driven by the changing nature of consumer behavior and the age of digitalization. 

    This article explores why financial institutions and services should make omnichannel experiences a priority to their customers.

    The State of Modern Financial Banking

    Banks are notable in selling a multi-channel take where products and services are offered or sold through various channels such as websites, in-store/bank, applications, or through mobile, yet the link between these channels is almost non-existent. Simply put, the banking experience we know today lives on single individualistic platforms that are sporadic and interrupts the customer journey - resulting in a lengthy and complicated experience. In 2020, the customer experience was stated as the biggest differentiator between brands. In a study of 100 financial services based across the United States and the United Kingdom, it was found that a large proportion of retail banks struggled in keeping up with the digital transformation that is expected from customers today.

    It was also found that while customers welcome improved efficiency and convenience at their disposal to online services and touchpoints, customers still desire a personalized experience. An Accenture study found that 50% of customers wanted to be able to switch between human and digital channels amongst financial services, where similarly, a survey conducted by Deloitte found that customers still prefer traditional channels of communication when it comes to more intricate transactions.

    For example, if you were a customer on a holiday that suddenly loses their card abroad, you would contact your bank through the customer service call center or online chat to report the loss. Normally, you would have to use an alternative card until you can return home and have your new physical card waiting in the mailbox. Yet, bringing an omnichannel experience in accommodating to this involves having the card blocked, and receiving a new virtual card into your smartphone wallet (such as Apple Pay) in just a few minutes. In the meantime, the physical card will be in parallel delivered to your home address, waiting for you as soon as you return home from abroad.

    Such an example is proof that the state of modern financial banking depends on meeting customer expectations with an omnichannel experience that connects personal, digital, and digital-personal channels in a seamless and interconnected way. 

    The benefits to omnichannel banking

    The benefits of omnichannel banking come with the ability to seamlessly integrate the best of both worlds of being present throughout various channels, and having the ability to switch between channels without disrupting or fragmenting the storytelling and customer’s journey both digitally and physically. Integrating omnichannel to your customer’s experience is beneficial towards: 

    • Lower support costs: Omnichannel support can come in the form of chatbots, AI-assistants via messaging or social media messaging (Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, etc.), helping to solve customer service queries, allowing advisors to aim their focus towards more complex issues. On top of that, it also means that issues that were usually required to be solved physically in-branch can be solved online while your customer goes about their day.
    • Providing a more personalized experience: The power of omnichannel brings along a hybrid customer journey that allows your customers to switch between a digital service, or coming physically to your financial service, and offers flexible and adaptive accommodation to your customer’s needs
    • Customer experience satisfaction: The ability to have a more personalized experience, where your bank moves with your customer wherever they go at their discretion results in improved customer loyalty, and an increase in customer experience satisfaction

    Yet, these benefits also come with a wary reminder when implementing omnichannel strategies and the overall experience to your financial institution. While there is the obvious of taking on a new strategy and implementing it to your current setup, your financial institution must have the capabilities to store data and trace every interaction your customers have with your institution to understand the best insights into what is the best personalized omnichannel experience for them. A survey by Banking Hub found that only 27% of banks in Europe have a unified record of customer interactions via any channel or touchpoint. Consequently, the same study also found that only 24% of financial institutions have the technology and data capabilities required to enable and incorporate an omnichannel experience. 

    Such benefits are vital to point why companies offering financial services should make omnichannel experiences a top priority to their brand and customer journeys. 

    Providing an omnichannel experience to your customers goes beyond just a marketing strategy, but has reached the boardroom in expanding your financial capabilities to the different channels and its strategies you can serve. This involves putting your customer front-and-center while planning out to analyze and see the best fit of channels and communication from your customer’s preferences and behavior they will best respond to. Based on this, a channel management framework should be established to enable a starting point of what needs to be covered and connected to provide a seamless customer journey and experience. 

    A study consequently found that 88% of banks surveyed have defined a branch network strategy to expand their channel management framework. Consequently, only 76% of that have defined an online/digital strategy, where only 49% have a detailed omnichannel strategy in place.

    The most straightforward ‘omnichannel fix’ would be the expansion of your online web banking and mobile app development. Yet, financial services must strive further in going beyond traditional channels of interaction towards social media channels, mobile application banking, chatbots, and supportive in-branch experiences that can tie the loop and support your customer’s journey. While the thought of bringing an omnichannel experience and the launch of such initiatives have taken place in some financial institutions, most omnichannel practices are isolated and only cover one specific point in the customer journey rather than completely. 

    Albeit this, there needs to be an alignment between different channels, through a unified message, that will coordinate your content intentions in a central place, and align your brand strategy with your customer’s journey. A true omnichannel experience within financial services requires a look back into your customer’s journey. 

    Best practices of looking into your customer journey and segmentation go beyond demographics and monetary aspects whether that be age, gender, or sales potential. Instead, financial services must seek out research into the different customer personas that exist on multiple channels, that cover their customer’s goals, motivations, frustrations, and consumer behavior they have with your financial service. 

    Despite consumer behaviors shifting to increasing use of technology, by default, there are still customers who value a personal touch to their customer journey. It is all about the equalization, balancing, and combination between digital and human channels to create a seamless omnichannel experience. A McKinsey study found through one European bank, that when it implemented changes to optimize their omnichannel experience that involved both digital and human channels, saw a consistent scale growth of as much as 20% over two to three years from the implementation. 

    According to a 2017 survey from the same McKinsey study of financial institutions located in Asia Pacific, North America, and Europe, found that 60% of active banking customers use some sort of digital channel (online banking and mobile), and 80% of all customer touchpoints live digitally. Yet, digital channels only represent 25% of sales (through 20% being online and 5% mobile), suggesting the benefit of incorporating an omnichannel experience that involves both human and physical channels, and that through that incorporation, the benefits are ongoing over time.

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    How can your CMS help you optimize your omnichannel experience?

    If your financial service is looking to diversify your communication channels, while offering an omnichannel experience with a level of personalization to your customers, a headless CMS is a good starting point. 73% of consumers already purchasing via multiple digital channels as well as in person, making it a worthwhile thought that consumers are already living on a customer journey that needs to move with them as they move. Such a movement requires a central access entryway of your products, content, support, and services on whichever channel or platform they prefer or need as well as in-person. 

    A headless content management system (CMS) such as Storyblok is a great asset in helping your financial institution to manage, optimize and deliver content from a central location that has the capabilities to distribute to different mediums, channels, and platforms. With its backend and frontend decoupled, allows your organization to tailor-made your content and omnichannel strategy accordingly and personally to each customer persona you have. On the back-end, marketers and content editors have the power to create and manage content, whereas on the front-end developers and designers can create the best display for your financial service, whether it is to a website, a chatbot, an Internet of Things (IoT) device like an Alexa virtual assistant AI, in-store display screens, or mobile applications. One of the main catalysts to a headless CMS is through the use of an application programming interface (API) that connects the front and back end, allowing you to create, customize, deliver and reuse customized content where appropriate, for whichever channel best fits your customers’. APIs are key to allowing you to access the best-of-breed integrations and applications to maximize your performance, optimization, and your content with everything from A/B testing, localization, storefront assistants, and more - the possibilities are endless with a headless CMS. 

    Key Takeaways

    The reason why your financial institution should make omnichannel experiences a priority is simple - the future is now. Consumer behaviors and needs are shifting to not just want convenient access to financial services, but one where that moves with them adapts and is accessible whenever, wherever. Banks have to build up their omnichannel capabilities with their foundations turning to a suitable technical infrastructure such as headless CMS to help them that can also consequently manage the performance and data capabilities needed to attend to multiple channels. 

    Storyblok helps financial businesses to deliver great omnichannel experiences and expand their omnichannel capabilities to your content and customers. Brands such as Fundbox, Zettle, and Saldo, are using Storyblok’s headless CMS to organize their content in one central place. To learn more about telling your story and manage your content, check out Storyblok. Take control of your content, wherever it goes with Storyblok.