6 Best Practices of A Great Omnichannel Experience: Part 1

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Thanks to the ever-increasing capabilities of mobile devices, more and more people are using multiple channels when making a purchase. Just 27% of people use only one channel during their buyer’s journey. That means the other 73% of individuals are omnichannel customers. These omnichannel customers are more valuable to your business, spending 4% more every time they shop. It’s essential to design a high-quality omnichannel experience to cater to these high-value customers.

These six omnichannel best practices are vital to winning the business of customers who make purchases using multiple channels.

1) Strive for Consistency

With such a large percentage of people using multiple channels to make purchases, it’s important to provide a consistent experience across channels. A true omnichannel experience lets customers do research on one channel, continue researching on another, and finally make a purchase using a third channel. Brands should provide a consistent experience, making it simple and straightforward for prospects to navigate across channels.

Consistent design and messaging can enable people to shift between devices quickly, finding the required resource regardless of which channel. Resources with consistent design and messaging will be instantly recognizable, making it easy for prospects to find resources on different channels.

Back-end consistency is the most important part of the omnichannel experience. People do not want to have to start their shopping experience all over again when they transition between devices. Organizations need to break down back-end data silos. By fully integrating the back-end, brands can ensure there is a smooth transition between channels, eliminating customer frustration.

2) Bring Digital Technology in-Store

Organizations should bring digital technology to the in-person experience to create cross-channel consistency. Marrying digital technologies with the traditional in-store experience lets brands create unique interactions that can thrill their customers.

Bringing digital technology into traditional in-person experiences benefits organizations in two ways. First, it enhances the in-person experience, introducing non-traditional mediums to share product information and motivate sales. Secondly, it introduces consumers to new digital technologies, increasing the chances that they will interact with those technologies online.

How can brands bring digital technologies to the in-store experience? Creating a mobile application is often the first step. An app lets brands used location-based tracking and beacons to provide local offers to customers when they are in-store. An app can also use artificial reality to showcase products visually. Another way to integrate digital technologies into the in-store experience is to create interactive content displayed on touch screens, creating in-store digital engagement opportunities.

3) Real-Time Updates

To create a true omnichannel experience, organizations must be able to update information in real time. This is necessary because what is done in one location must be reflected in others. Customers will become frustrated if they proceed through the entire journey on one channel, only to find out that the services they need are not available. This might mean the product they purchase sold out, and the inventory hasn’t been updated, or that they cannot book a meeting with their financial advisor through a mobile device. Frustrations like this can alienate customers and cause them to make their purchase elsewhere, therefore losing your business a customer.

According to a study by Accenture, 50% of customers expect to be able to place an order online and pick it up in-store. Customers want to be able to see their purchase and resource search history, regardless of which device they use.

To facilitate the expectations of a complete omnichannel integration, brands need to eliminate data silos with complete back-end integration. To learn more about the importance of integrating data silos, check out our article: You Won’t Believe How Data Silos Are Killing Your Business.

That wraps up part one of our two-part series on Omnichannel Experience Best Practices. Check back on Thursday, October 24, 2017, for part two! In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @VeridayHQ or LinkedIn!

9 Characteristics of Successful Content

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Creating engaging content can be a difficult task for any marketer. However, there are several steps that you can take to ensure your content experiences the most success possible. To get the best return from the time and resources invested in an attempt to attract customers, try to create each piece of content with these nine points in mind.

  • Targeted

Before you even begin writing, you should know WHO you are writing for and center the content around a topic that will peak their interest. Having a comprehensive understanding of your target audience will allow content to speak to their unique needs and interests. By targeting content at a particular group, you can highlight specific benefits and information that will be relevant to them.

One can target content at their audience by utilizing buyer personas for each segment of their target audience. Also, website analytics can be used to see who is visiting your site and viewing your content.

Half the challenge of content marketing is getting an audience to consume the content. In addition to writing directly to a specific audience, you can use search optimization to make your content more discoverable.

  • Optimized

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a strategy to have your original content rank higher in search results. It is used by individuals and organizations to increase the visibility of their content. It has become so common that an industry of “growth hackers” and “SEO gurus” has developed to help businesses rank higher in search results.

SEO has proven to bring results. Keywords, the quality of the content, how much activity the website that hosts the content experiences, and several other factors contribute to the success of SEO efforts. Another form of optimization is Social Media Optimization (SMO). SMO deals with increasing your business’ visibility and improving your reputation using social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Successful content needs to be written for the audience first, with optimization in the back of your mind throughout the process. You put in the effort to create valuable, high-performing content. SEO and SMO will make it easily discoverable by members of the intended audience.

  • Provides Value

Perhaps the most important question to ask about content is “Does it provide value to the intended audience?” You can provide value in many ways. To provide value, you should educate, entertain or solve a problem your audience might be having. Your content should not only be used to promote your services. It should be created to benefit your audience. If the target audience does not see value in what you are sharing, they will ignore you.

To learn more about providing value through content, take a look at our article: The One Thing You Need To Include in Your Newsletter. Newsletters are just like any other form of content; they need to be a valuable use of the reader’s’ time.

  • Tells a Story

Storytelling is among the most effective methods for communicating information. The way stories speak to the human brain is unique, effectively motivating action centers within the brain. This phenomenon does not occur with any other methods of communicating information. It might not always be possible to tell a story through your content, but the more you can do it, the more value you can add to your content marketing efforts.

To learn more about how to tell engaging stories in your business, our article: The Power of Storytelling in the Business World examines why storytelling can be a great tool for businesses to communicate information to their audience.

  • Educational

Your content should be somewhat educational for your audience. There is little point in simply rehashing information that the user already knows. Content should have the purpose of informing your readers about something they need to know about your product, service, business or industry. You can educate your audience with any content imaginable.

Content written well below your audience’s level of knowledge may offend them, pushing them away from your website and towards your competitors.

  • Captivating

Capturing your audience’s attention is a difficult task, something that many content marketers struggle with on a daily basis. You want to captivate the attention of your readers, so they become engaged with the message. Engaged users are members of your audience who actively pay attention to your content. Those users are “listening” to what you are saying.

How can you captivate an audience? Some tactics go a long way towards engaging your readers. By speaking directly to your audience, asking them questions and using a consistent tone of voice, you can engage and captivate your readers. Content should always aim to grab and hold the attention of an audience.

  • Shareable

Your content needs to find a way to get in front of the of members of your target audience. One way for that to happen is by creating highly shareable content. You need to distribute content through channels where you know you can find your audience. At the very least you should use digital channels where you know your content can get in front of the users with interest.

If your content is flawless but doesn’t get seen, is it as valuable as it should be? Writing content that aligns with your business strategy does not have to be an overly complicated endeavor. Just create a website that can host your content (a blog or resources section) and share that content across various social platforms, email and other relevant forums.

If your audience can find your content, and that content is high-quality, then they will share it with other individuals. Thus, spreading the reach of your content.

  • Persuasive

Regardless of which stage of the buyer’s journey the reader is in, your content should aim to motivate action. If the reader is in the early stages of the purchase cycle, your content should convince them to learn more about your brand (or products/services). If they are in the later legs of the journey, it should persuade or motivate them to take that next step, finally becoming a customer. Target every piece of content towards a particular stage of the sales process with a focus on the beginning and ending stages.

A technique exists called pre-suasion, which means priming your audience to convert to customers using content. This method positions your message so that before you even deliver it,  the audience already agrees. “Pre-suasion” involves using visuals, phrasing, how you order details in the content and understanding why your brand (or content) appeals to customers. The book, Pre-Suasion: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade, by Robert Cialdini,  examines how effective persuasion does not lie in the message itself, but in the critical moment right before the delivery of that message. Persuasive content can lead to conversions, helping you gain customers and grow your business.

  • Converting

What’s the end goal of content marketing? It’s likely to attract profitable customers to your business. That’s why it’s important for your content to contain a call-to-action CTA. That CTA does not have to motivate a purchase, that is not always appropriate, but a good marketer will always include a call-to-action.

That might mean asking your audience to like, comment, share or retweet your content on social media. The CTA might encourage the audience to visit other resources or to subscribe to your newsletter or Youtube channel. Regardless of what you want to motivate, your content should nudge the audience into the next step of the journey. For more information on creating CTA’s, read our article: 6 Tips for Creating Better Calls-to-Action for Financial Advisors.

If your content has these nine characteristics, and you aim to consistently create content that engages and converts your audience into customers, your content marketing efforts can lead to fantastic success.

Does the content your business produces have any of these nine characteristics? Do you produce engaging content? Have you found success in content marketing? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ! If you thought this article was helpful, check out our eBook: Unlocking Digital: How Financial Companies Master Modern Marketing

The State of Customer Experience in Banking by the Numbers

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Most people use more than one financial institution for their banking needs. It is easy to see the competition from other big banks, but many financial institutions struggle to quantify the threat from FinTech firms. Customer experience (CX) is a key factor in building and maintaining high customer loyalty, but this might be the area in which big banks struggle the most. If a bank provides an excellent experience to its customers, they will be able to maintain customer loyalty and keep money in their banks. So, how can you improve your CX? You’ll have to ask yourself some questions.

What channels do consumers want to use? What do banks think customers want? Why haven’t you provided the experiences that customers want? Is there a gap between the mindset of consumers and the mindset of banks? Today, we will examine these questions, using graphs from one of my favorite publications: The Financial Brand.

The Financial Brand is a digital publication for banks and credit union. The Financial Brand specializes in marketing and strategy. The publication creates many informative graphics about a wide variety of subjects. In this article, we will examine 7 informative graphs about customer experience (CX) in finance. We will take an in-depth at what insights they give us about the state of CX in banking.

1. Consumer Research Channels

Consumer Research Channels customer experience

This graph examines the channels used by consumers for researching and purchasing different financial products. I find it interesting and informative because of the stark differences in research channels, based on which product is being examined.

Websites, email and physical mail are all used disproportionately when searching for credit cards. What do all of these channels have in common? Perhaps the customer wants information without having to interact with an actual person. This could be the case because credit cards are a less-personalized product (compared to something like a mortgage or larger line of credit), meaning standardized rates may be published online.

Another reason that people may use impersonal channels when shopping for credit cards is because people often carry multiple cards. This is in stark contrast to chequing accounts and mortgages, where most people will only need one at a time. Since they are less of a commitment and you may have multiple credit cards, people won’t feel the need to come in-branch to learn about a product.

Mortgages are the one product that will motivate customers to call a bank. Again, it might be due to the fact that people generally only need one. They are more willing to visit a branch or talk to a real person because a mortgage will radically affect their life. A person is more likely to make personal contact with a financial institution when the solution they are looking for will dramatically change their life.

2. Benefits of Personalized Experiences

Benefits of Delivering personalized experience

This graph takes a look at what bank leaders believe the biggest benefits of delivering personalized experiences and content to consumers are. Using customer data to make the right offer at the right time is far and away the most common benefit. The second leading answer, improving cross-channel CX, shows the importance omnichannel experiences. If your cross-channel experience is slow, or subpar in any way, the customer will choose to get their products or services from elsewhere. They may even decide to do business with your competitors.

Many of these answers relate to communicating with customers more effectively. Aside from providing frictionless services at a lower cost and enabling flexible product/service bundling, improving communication is a key concern. Personalization in FinServ and all other industries will allow brands to communicate relevant information to their customers. This is something that every FinServ provider should aim for.

3. Funding Difficulties

Difficulties getting CX funding

This graphic shows the difficulties that FinServ firms face in getting funding for CX initiatives. Only 28% of firms rated the experience as easy or somewhat easy. The other 72% of firms found the experience difficult.

This speaks to the disillusionment of many FinServ leaders about the need to fund customer experience initiatives. As the competition from FinTech firms heats up, challenger banks become more established and traditional competitors begin to invest in technology solutions, CX will become a key differentiator when it comes to retaining your customers.

Would a customer accept a subpar experience on a social networking site? Would somebody use a very frustrating dating app? Why would they accept poor CX from their financial service providers?

4. Customer Experience Excellence: Perception Vs. Reality

CX Excellence: Perception v. Reality

These graphs really jump off the page for a few reasons. They are so telling of the systematic customer experience issues FinServ has. Over half of retail banks and wealth management firms believe that they provide an excellent customer experience. The issue is that their customers don’t agree.

It appears that leaders in financial services may have missed the mark on their customer experience estimates. Perhaps, the research process needs to be slightly tweaked. How can a firm over-estimate how good an experience they provide by 27%? That doesn’t even begin to approach the 41% overestimation by wealth management professionals. The answers by financial service professionals to this question call for financial institutions to take another look at these problems. 

These graphs show that leaders in financial services need to communicate with their customers better. They show that leaders in FinServ need to put more resources towards understanding their customers. Without putting the effort towards understanding your customers, you will be unable to serve them in a way that meets their needs.

This large a gap cannot be logically explained. Talk with your customers, ask them how satisfied they are with the CX you provide, engage with them. Not only will they appreciate it, but you can begin to bridge the CX gap from a realistic starting point.   

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This is the end of part one of our two-part series examining customer experience through graphs by the Financial Brand. Did you find any of these insights surprising? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ. Next, we will be publishing part two, which contains insight into how banks plan on adapting to improve CX.

The 3 Basic Elements for Providing Great Omnichannel Experiences

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People today expect an instant and seamless experience, regardless of how they engage with you. That might sound scary, but with the right tools in place, you can provide this type of experience.

Once upon a time, businesses only had to worry about two types of engagement. Your customers would either come into your brick-and-mortar location to talk to a human being, or phone you to ask questions. The customer experience was easy to manage. You just had to be at the office before you opened and you would be good to go.

The introduction of the World Wide Web slowly made the customer experience more difficult to manage. As the internet matured, businesses needed to be aware of what was being said about them online and how their brand was being perceived. This was the beginning (and heyday) of multi-channel (or cross-channel) marketing.

Multi-channel marketing is defined as:

“The ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms. In this sense, a channel might be a print ad, a retail location, a website, a promotional event, a product’s package or even word of mouth. Multichannel marketing is about choice.”

Over time, mobile web searches and applications began to grow in popularity. This added another wrinkle to the marketing equation. Responsive design, applications built for different operating systems, and mobile-first websites began to appear. The landscape was shifting.

Multi-channel marketing involved creating campaigns for each individual channel. This was done so customers were able to take action using the channel of their choice. Multi-channel marketers hope that after a certain number of interactions, the customer will make a purchase through the channel of their choice. Before multi-channel marketing, the consumer’s journey between channels was very fragmented and broken. But marketing and digital have now evolved even more, and some would say that in 2017, multi-channel marketing is outdated. Today, omnichannel marketing is now how nearly every single industry, whether they sell consumer goods or financial advice, market their wares to customers.

Omnichannel Experiences

According to SearchCIO:

Omnichannel (also spelled omnichannel) is a multi-channel approach to sales that seeks to provide the customer with a seamless shopping experience whether the customer is shopping online from a desktop or mobile device, by telephone or in a bricks and mortar store.

If you have never heard of omnichannel marketing, here are a few statistics that prove why omnichannel experiences are now the way to go:

  • The Aberdeen Group has conducted surveys that suggest that the top fifth of firms in terms of omni-channel engagement have a customer retention rate around 89%, while the other 80% of firms have an average retention rate of 33%.
  • 72% of digital shoppers consider in-store experience as the most important channel when making a purchase.
  • Shoppers who buy from a business, both in-store and online have a 30% higher lifetime value than those who shop using only one channel.
  • 64% of customers expect to receive seamless customer service regardless of which channel they are using.

Clearly, expectations have shifted and shoppers want a seamless experience, regardless of their platform of choice. You need to be able to provide those experiences to be successful in your marketing efforts.

Unlike before, you have to be prepared for a much wider variety of engagement methods. Every experience that a customer has with your business, whether it be through mobile, web, social, or in-store, must feel seamless. This connected experience is called “omnichannel”, referring to a single channel encompassing all the previously distinct sales channels.

Omnichannel experience has three basic elements that are always present.

  1. Create a buyer profile using analytics from multiple channels
  2. Relevant content, right when they need it.
  3. Ability to access any information, any time, using any channel

One of the most efficient ways to provide an omnichannel experience is to invest in a single unifying platform such as Liferay.

In case you aren’t familiar with Liferay, it’s an open-source enterprise experience platform, focused on creating enterprise portals, customer facing web applications, and other digital experience solutions. Liferay portals are built on one unified system and is quite easy to add existing systems to your portal or web application.

Here are the three basic elements that need to be met in order to assure an omnichannel experience:

1) Buyer Profile

A platform such as Liferay can make it easier to satisfy the three basic elements of omnichannel. The most important element to satisfy is also the first: creating a buyer profile. Regardless of how the customer accesses and interacts with your content, the data will be stored in the same place. This makes it possible to analyze data and create the buyer profile.

Aspects such as IP addresses, which keywords or social channel brought them to your website, and any personal information provided on forms can be used to create buyer profiles. All of this can be easily tracked and put into the same database, pooling all information about visitors in one dataset. Liferay makes this process very simple since the back-end systems are all interconnected. The data collected will give you insights needed in order to create accurate buyer personas.

2) Relevant Content

Once you have your buyer profiles, you can find out what content would be relevant to those personas and set out creating it. Relevant content is content that appeals to your target audiences; it should help them, address their interests, needs and challenges, and improve their lives in one way or another. It also means providing the information in their preferred type of content whether that be a blog, visual content, podcast, video, etc.

There are many ways you can make your content relevant to the target audience. One way to do this is by researching keywords and following the conversation on social media. Use a social media listening tool to find out what your audience is talking about. A second way you can ensure you are producing relevant content is by soliciting information from your customers and sales team. They will know what prospects and clients are saying, what they need to know and what form they want the content in. Regardless of how you plan your content calendar, you need to produce content for a true omnichannel experience.

3) Access to Information

The final aspect of creating an omnichannel experience is giving visitors the ability to access any information, at any time, using any channel. This part of the equation is essential. It defines an omnichannel experience.

Now, in order for this aspect to be satisfied, you need a system with responsive design. Responsive design allows your website to be accessed and viewed using any device, with any browser. Your website should be functional and aesthetically pleasing on all devices,  from a smartphone to a 200 foot monitor.

Final Thoughts

While we discussed the digital aspects of creating a good omnichannel experience, there are other factors to consider. If you have a brick-and-mortar location, the in-store experience should have the same general feel as your digital experience. A true omnichannel experience crosses over from digital to physical seamlessly.

The difficulties with executing an omnichannel strategy involve collecting and analyzing data to provide a seamless experience, both digitally and in person. The most difficult part of omnichannel strategy involves aligning your channels to form a single stream. A good CMS, with a strong underlying system, can be one of the most effective ways to solve these challenges.

The process of building a true omnichannel experience is never complete. The process is constantly changing based on evolving technologies, trends and behaviours. It’s important to be willing to consistently adapt and tweak your strategy in order to provide the best omnichannel experience.

There are many excellent platforms for creating digital experiences using responsive design. Regardless of the device, there are methods to creates beautiful websites and portals for your business. While there are many products on the market that are meant to improve customer experience, we can fit a solution to your needs. The best one for your business depends on your goals, processes and needs. If you would like to learn more about how technology solutions can help you improve your omnichannel experiences you can contact us here.

So, how are your omnichannel marketing efforts going? What challenges have you faced trying to integrate your systems? Are there any difficulties with implementing an omnichannel strategy that we left out? Let us know on Twitter @VeridayHQ.

As always, thank you for reading. If this topic interests you, check out our other articles on Omnichannel:

Omnichannel is the Key to Optimizing Customer Experiences

7 Reasons to Upgrade Your CMS

3 Keys to a Better Customer Experiences

The 3 Key Areas You Must Improve If You’re A Bank

 

3 Key Benefits for Digital Experience Platforms

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This post was written by Christine Reyes and appeared here first on Liferay.com.

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Business processes driven by customer needs are more than a popular trend; they are the driving factor behind successful digital transformation and company culture shifts.

Digital experience platforms are designed for companies that understand the importance of breaking down silos and bringing together data and channels in a way that can be shared among business units. Common features include analytics, customer context views, personalization and multichannel support.

Their goal is to enable companies to manage the elements of exceptional experiences with a clear view of business analytics, integration, comprehensive customer data and cost-effective implementation. Further benefits of digital experience platforms to digital businesses include the following:

1. Identify immediate needs in digital customer experience

As digital business becomes more personalized and unified across devices, it becomes increasingly important to interact with people at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Sophisticated data management streamlines the process of identifying customer pain points or gaps in communication, which can then be leveraged to improve digital experiences. This prioritizes what customers want without locking companies down to any specific technology or type of interaction.

Once companies identify immediate needs in digital customer experience, they can act on them from a place of knowledge, rather than trying to build strategies off of incomplete data. A digital experience platform will then be able to provide tools or integrate with the correct external products to address these needs.

2. Improve the accuracy of your marketing and customer engagement through holistic customer data and information

The first step to improving experiences is to offer the omnichannel interaction, and the second step is to constantly track, measure and analyze so that customer engagement can grow and evolve.

Digital experience platforms allow companies to track customer behavior at each digital touchpoint. As the Internet of Things (IoT) grows, companies will have access to more channels of customer data, enabling them to draw new insights. The goal is to discover patterns in customer behavior and constantly improve customers’ experiences, even before they ask for it.

Customer data can include basic contact information, demographic snapshots, psychographic data points such as details about personalities or lifestyles, transactional data, communications history with the brand, account preferences, responses to marketing campaigns, and site engagement tracked through clicks, browsing time and social media shares.

A digital experience platform will pull this data into one place that each department can access as needed through customized views. This ensures that the entire company is working with consistent, updated information and basing decisions on accurate, holistic insights.

3. Use integration and flexible architecture to stay on the cutting-edge of digital trends

A common burden of technology upgrades is the unforeseen costs when development takes longer or is more complex than planned. If a digital experience platform achieves an effective level of integration and flexibility, then it will be cost-effective over time.

Veterans of digital change know that a technology upgrade can take months or even years. Sometimes, by the time you get the technology and strategy right, the trend is in its last days and the industry leaders are already gearing up for the next change. This makes it risky to pursue any new digital trend, because it may have evaporated by the time your company finally gets the fancy new software configured for your needs.

In today’s quickly changing digital environment, vendor lock-in is a handicap, and any digital experience platform should also make it easy to integrate with outside products, not just the vendor’s own offerings.

Because a digital experience platform starts with the core components in one place and product, it would be a cost-effective, long-term investment that mitigates the risk in acting on a digital trend. This could potentially level the playing field for companies that don’t have the largest budget, provided they have the foresight and agility to respond to the shifting sands of the market.

Final Thoughts

A digital experience platform provides the capabilities that you need to produce a variety of user-facing experiences. The exact tools offered will differ by vendor, and it is up to companies to assess their goals and determine which components are required for their strategy. However, the unifying principle for digital experience platforms will remain the same: architecture that integrates core business tools and provides a foundation for future digital innovation.

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DXP: Digital Experience Platform

Read more about the digital transformation and how you can create customer-first digital experiences. Download Liferay’s Digital Experience Platform whitepaper.

Omnichannel is the Key to Optimizing Customer Experiences

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What does Omni-channel mean?

Historically, companies were focused on providing customers with the ability to transact in the channel of their choice.  Organizations were organized around channels, and each channel’s department had their own reporting structure and goals.  The departments often encouraged channel competition, but the end result was confused customers who experienced different offers, pricing and processes in each channel.

Omni-channel is a multi-channel approach that provides the customer with aseamless experience, whether they are transacting online, from a desktop or mobile device.

Today, companies are focusing on creating omni-channel experiences to ensure that no matter where the customer is located, or on what device they are interacting with, the experience is the same.

Online, mobile, and social media platforms have enabled customers to not only switch between channels quickly but to also use them simultaneously. It is a regular occurrence to see people in store aisles looking at product reviews and pricing on their mobile while deciding between products on a physical retail store shelf. They are using mobile, in-store advertising, and in-store sales representatives combined to help with their decision making process.

Why Omni-channel?

Unfortunately, there are way too many examples of companies that fail to deliver good omni-channel customer experiences. A few years ago, I called my bank’s 1-800 number to secure a car loan. Everything (or so I thought) was confirmed over the phone.  I faxed in my signed documents, and was told I could go and pick up my cheque at my local branch. I waited in line at the branch only to get to the counter and be told, “Oh no, you cannot just pick up the cheque”. I asked how they could be so disconnected and their response was, “Well, we are not the same as the call centre. We have different rules”.

The result was a very negative experience. I walked away thinking that the bank does not understand me as a customer, and clearly does not realize I have a mortgage, GICs, RRSPs, RESPs, etc… Not only were they at risk of losing my car loan, they now faced the risk of losing my business to one of their competitors.

Having been in digital since the days of Netscape, I am definitely a digital advocate, interacting digitally is my preference. But, there are certainly times when I prefer face-to-face interaction. Human interaction is a vital factor in a positive customer experience even in the digital age.

In fact, a study done by Accenture found that only 36% of customers believe digital channels are better than non-digital forms of interaction. Additionally, 58-73% prefer dealing with humans to get quicker answers, resolution on issues, and to get advice[1].

Omni-channel is the key to optimizing customer experiences statistic

Many studies have found that customers who engage across multiple channels are  more valuable customers. In fact, multi-channel banking customers purchase 1.4 times the products and are 15% more likely than digital-only customers to serve as advocates for their providers.[2]

Digital does not always offer marketers the ability to up-sell or cross-sell based on the customer’s needs. Digital can ‘recommend’ based products you are looking at in real-time. Sometimes, we see up-sells based on our previous buying behavior – but I still get irrelevant Minecraft recommendations because my son and I surf on the same computer. And rarely do I see up-sells and cross-sells based on my ‘stage of life’ or my ‘in the moment’ needs.
The ability to truly understand the customer is lost if their only interaction is online.

Ironically, many companies are also finding that the selling expense associated with digital exceeds the value of their digital investments. The savings from the efficiencies of customers transacting online are often offset by the necessity to offer lower prices through promotions and discounts – to compete in the one click away environment. Rate comparisons or insurance quotes are always 5 seconds away. Digital is further commoditizing financial products; foreign currency exchange, insurance quotes, and loans are available online.

Omni-channel is the key to optimizing customer experiences Statistic

In fact, an Accenture survey found that more than ½ of customers want their bank to proactively recommend products or services that would help them financially. And 55% said it would strongly increase their loyalty to the bank. Many would even pay for budgetary advice.

A simple idea such as the Investment Advisor making notes on a client’s life changes into an omni-channel CRM, could positively impact revenues. The in-branch bank manager would better understand the client and be able to make recommendations and offers of true value to the client.
Barriers to Omni-channel.

Offering proactive digital financial advice and counselling to help clients better manage their financial needs can provide valuable insight and offer huge incremental revenues and increased loyalty.

Barriers to Omni-channel

In order to embrace omni-channel strategies across the organization, companies must first understand the economic benefits of providing customers with the ability to interact seamlessly across channels. The silos need to begin to blend and they must agree that a one-size-fits-all approach to customer experiences will not work.

The story about how my telebanking institution did not communicate with my branch nor have the same rules for picking up my car loan cheque, was probably due to technology and/or the lack of desire to improve their processes. Omni-channel requires a focused customer-first agenda – a strong understanding of customer data and a willingness to change. Barriers include:

  • Inability to provide all divisions with a single view of the customer across channels
  • Inability to understand the customer beyond their buying history
  • Lack of system integration
  • Lack of training, education, processes, and inadequate change management

How to get started

The core of an omni-channel strategy is the ability to understand the customer.  Omni-channel warrants an outside-in view and a mapping of the customer experience from the customer’s perspective. The omni-channel approach puts the customer, not the business units, at the centre.

For financial institutions, a front-end portal or “window” into the back-office, can help bridge the silos. Starting with a single view of the customer, you can direct the client standing in the branch, help the bank manager understand the value of the client, the call centre to appropriately service the client, and give the Financial Advisor a better indication on which products to recommend. A portal is not as big of an undertaking as re-building the back office and it can create and connect personalized digital experiences across the omni-channels.

Considering the customer journey from an omni-channel experience instead of just one department or a branch’s interactions is a start. Understanding customers beyond the personas is the next step to creating fantastic omni-channel customer experiences.

Valerie Jones will be at the Digital Marketing for Financial Services Summit on the Power PanelOmni-channel Surmount Barriers to Transform your Omni-Channel into a Customer Centric, High Performance Digital Ecosystem.   June 2, 2016 at 9:15 AM.

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[1]  https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-digital-disconnect-customer-engagement.aspx

[2] https://www.accenture.com/us-en/insight-digital-disruption-banking-north-america-consumer-survey