By Matthew Hughes, Operational Performance Director for Business Transformation Services, Atos UK and Ireland.
For more and more financial services customers, the time that really matters is right now. People want easy access to their personal finances where, when and how it suits them; and this is changing the relationships between financial institutions and their customers forever.
It’s well known that today’s consumers want to be able to use a combination of different channels to manage their savings and investments, from online banking and apps, to face-to-face meetings and phone calls. The retail banking sector has been leading the charge, and the last five years has seen an evolution from mobile banking to ‘smart mobility’, which uses contextual data for better targeting of relevant and timely services to customers. This enables banks not only to deliver conventional mobile banking, but also act as service brokers within a retail ecosystem, improving their own service to customers while opening up new sales opportunities. It also fosters a self-service approach that combines convenience with cost-efficiency; customers can access services around the clock that can be delivered at comparatively low costs.
People want easy access to their personal finances where, when and how it suits them
For the life and pensions sector, the challenge now is how to maximise the benefits of this kind of self-service approach – speed, efficiency and reduced cost-to-serve – while increasing customer satisfaction and developing new business opportunities. The solution to meet all these challenges simultaneously is to implement a comprehensive omnichannel strategy.
Single dynamic customer experiences
An omni-channel strategy enables a company to deliver one consistent customer experience all the way through each transaction while maintaining a full picture of the customer and their interactions at all times. It makes it possible, dynamically and in real-time, to gather knowledge from customers across all channels, while delivering precisely targeted fulfilment to customers at every stage. Customers no longer feel that different channels, such as online and telephone, are different departments – or even, in some cases, different organisations. They don’t waste time or feel frustrated by having to re-explain their need or go back to square one with every transaction.
As far as the technology goes, an omni-channel strategy can be implemented through an omni-channel portal and one single customer experience platform, with the ability for customers to switch between different modes throughout a transaction. This technology performs three key functions:
- It provides an integrated way of gathering customer data, insights and priorities, which can be collected within a single knowledge repository;
- It means that intelligence, generated by analysing large volumes of customer information, can be applied at every point of contact with customers, ensuring that sales and service agents understand customer profiles, preferences and context at every contact point, and;
- It enables customers to interact with their life and pensions company in exactly the way that suits them best.
An omni-channel strategy is key to delivering customer experiences that are at once highly efficient to deliver (being largely based on customer self-service), very convenient (fitting into the customer’s preferences), always accurate (as the most up-to-date information is available at each contact point), and satisfying (by constantly learning from each contact, enabling a more proactive approach to service delivery).
With an omni-channel portal driving a consistent and seamless experience across all channels and platforms, customers’ satisfaction levels increase because the company is easier to do business with. It also drives competitive advantage by giving companies insights into their customers’ needs and preferences that can be used to adapt their business model, thereby further raising satisfaction levels and loyalty. Only a truly omni-channel strategy can achieve this, creating a virtuous circle that improves both efficiency and satisfaction at the same time.