Creating a Multi-Channel Customer Service

Banking Trends: Creating a Multi-Channel Customer Service 28th February 2014

Originally published on The Financial Brand.com

The role of technology is increasingly changing consumers’ needs and expectations. This represents both a challenge and an opportunity in the global banking sector.

How is customer demand changing the banking sector and what impact does this have on the most effective business model for major banks? How can banks ensure that they are reflecting the customers’ needs and maintaining their loyalty, while adopting more technology in order to reduce costs?

I-AM’s Group Managing Director, Jon Blakeney, addressed these questions and shared his views on the subject with Hong-Kong’s BRAND Magazine. With over 20 years’ experience in leading design projects for a host of market-leading banks, Jon has played an influential role in the evolution of this sector.

Jon notes that banking customers are demanding more than ever before: the days of the ‘traditional’ high street bank have been replaced by more dynamic financial institutions that – in order to survive – have to respond effectively to the needs and wants of their customers.

With standard branch sizes and the numbers of staff both being decreased, and transactions increasingly moving online or to self-service, what remains of the human aspect of customer service must be even better in order to retain customers and attract new ones.

The same can be said of the importance of the bank’s image and the ‘customer experience’ on offer. Both are vital – and only by achieving the best of both can a bank truly stand out from its competitors.

As a result, the business model of the major banks has shifted in the direction of the retail sector. In the digital age, the bank’s ‘brand’ and customer touch-points are key selling points. Bank branches that were once designed as functional spaces in which to transact and sell, have become a more engaging customer experiences that can focus on promoting the bank’s more profitable products and services. Touch points that focus on face-to-face advice are becoming more inviting and welcoming. In order to hold on to their customers in an ever-changing environment, banks have started to think more like consumer brands in the retail and food industries. The mantra should be: serve first, sell second.

Offering a customised service is a cost-effective way to attract more customers. The secret to success in this area is a well-thought out service model that includes every customer’s potential requirements (within reason) followed by a good triage process to prioritise where focus is placed during the sales and marketing process. Effectively, you’re pre-designing a solution once for every case and then re-selling it on multiple occasions. The outcome is that the consumer feels as though they is getting a bespoke solution when, in fact, it’s off-the-shelf. In a sense, this is “mass-customisation” done right.

E-commerce is the perfect platform for selling ‘mass-customisation’. Behind the digital interface can sit a host of pre-designed products and services of seemingly tailored financial products. In this way, the customer is getting exactly what they need without having to go through a laborious process to specify it.

Needless to say, in order to make this a viable offer for the bank, in-depth market knowledge and customer insight are of paramount importance, as is excellent user-experience, which will allow the consumer to find the products or services in the fewest and most intuitive steps possible.

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