Digital transformation was already progressing at a furious pace before 2020 turbo-charged its pace. As it spreads through all corners of daily life, financial institutions are striving to keep up, and ensure services from financial advice to everyday banking operations are available online. Although customers appreciate the improved efficiency and convenience of online services, they still want a personal experience. In other words, they want omni channel banking.
Banks who can provide customers with a choice of channels and allow them to switch from one to another without disrupting or fragmenting their journey are ahead of their competitors. It has become critical that financial institutions and payment providers offer the convenience of digital channels while maintaining the human contact that is crucial to building trust.
Advances have also enabled merchants who rely on banks and payment providers to deliver a true omni channel portfolio of digitally enabled products where network and terminals, POS payments, online payments and merchant acquisitions work together seamlessly. Consumer needs are met, and companies are afforded a competitive advantage.
However the complex needs of many organisations – specific payment methods, head office and store level backend integration, reporting requirements and value added services – make it difficult for some payment providers to offer a true omni channel experience. Overcoming these challenges means building strategies that meet those needs at every stage of the journey.
For instance, a merchant would typically expect one contract that covers all selected features of a payment strategy – POS terminal rent, online payment gateway, cards acceptance, acquisition, reporting and value-added solutions. They would also expect minimal effort in managing those contracts, a single touchpoint for account management, high resolution rates.
With foundations such as these in place, omni channel banking can thrive simply because it is able to provide consistent experiences for customers. Yet becoming truly omni channel will require organisations to integrate products, services, data models and data sources, remodel internal processes and educate their staff. This is a huge investment but doing so is critical if payment providers are to remain competitive in a tight market.
For omni channel banking to succeed, financial institutions must pay equal attention to the digital and human sides of any operation. They need to use sales tools to respond to their customer’s needs, while personalising their digital touch points. They must ensure that any learnings about customer needs and digital behaviours are quickly digested to improve services, and make human interventions successful by providing the appropriate sales network capabilities.
Those that do will experience a significant uplift. Omni-channel banking is the future, and for some organisations that has already arrived. By creating, managing and optimising the end-to-end customer experience, people can switch seamlessly between digital and non-digital channels without loosing their way, nor loosing progress along the ‘path to purchase’. This is an imperative for banks, financial institutions and payment providers who want to stay market leaders, and stay ahead of the competition.