Why do BFSI players need to get serious about Omni-channel Engagement?
Part I

Consumers are flitting back and forth among many devices; from smartphones to desktops, and from laptops to tablets and TVs. Majority of the customers start a task on one device and finish it on another. Smart mobility is all about better connections with the customers. In the overall digital scheme of things, adding mobile and contextual information underpins the shift from product-centric to customer-centric mindset.

In the overall digital scheme of things, adding mobile and contextual information underpins the shift from product-centric to customer-centric mindset.

Smart mobile devices have played a key role in changing customer habits. The more sophisticated they become, the faster change happens. While technology convergence is further accelerating the natural tendency of people today to focus on the now-age (not new-age), which for most people is increasingly the only time that really matters.

A combination of new-age customer requirements and technology change is disrupting the financial services marketplace. The belief is, BFSI players of this country will need to make major changes in the following three core-areas if they want to stay competitive, relevant and successful in near future:

  • 1. Customer experience
  • 2. Precisely-targeted customer engagement
  • 3. The Omni-channel driven transformation

For the first part of this article, let us discuss the aspect of customer experience in detail.


a) Customer experience

In the present scenario, most of the thinking related to mobile banking multi-channel access, and related process and services have been dominated by technology thinking and technology debate. Some of marketers and technology thought leaders have speculated on the evolutionary path like, convergence of mobile devices, service-based platforms and other technology factors, in order to form the impression about the future of the market.

This is addressing the situation from the wrong starting point. In the age of instant-solutions, the key to competitiveness, success and relevance will always be the experience of customers. Customers trying to carry out financial transactions are less interested in the underlying technologies.

They will judge their banks as per the quality, consistency and reliability of the experience they receive across digital touch points. The question arises here, how will the banks be the trusted digital advisors for the growing tech savvy customers and in areas that stretch beyond traditional medium? And this brings with it the following challenges to the BFSI fraternity:

– How can one ensure that services follow a consumer from one platform to another seamlessly?
– How can one move from a fixed channel (eg. TV), to the mobile channel (eg. Smartphones), without losing functions and services?
– How can one ensure that each point of contact picks up precisely where the other left off, right down to very granular and time-critical information (eg. OTP)?

The answer to all of these questions are ultimately technology and design based, but the logic which customers will ask is the logic of what experience they had or will have with the brand. Does it feel good? Does it give them what they expect/want?

And effective customer experience is one that feels right at all times and across all platforms, seamlessly. Anything less will be just unacceptable.

Till 2013 most BFSI players and enterprises were focusing on the need for smart mobility that is essentially, the marriage of mobile devices with contextual data, knowledge of real-time presence and a certain level of analytics. In the world of multiple channels, platforms and constantly evolving technologies, we can only provide a truly competitive customer experience through consistent delivery across any and every available channels.

To do this, a broader concept is needed and one that’s Omni-channel. Created by specialist technology and mobility players, Omni-channel is a concept that ensures absolute consistency of experience at all times, no matter which platform or channel, be it telecom mobility channels like SMS, short code, voice, OTT and missed calls or internet channels like email, social media or publishers network, that an individual customer may wish to use.

This matters more than ever before because now-a-days, it is observed that customers requiring financial services for any purpose are moving from one channel or platform to another, many a times several times in the course of a single transaction. Between checking product details, making performance comparison, evaluating rates, looking for a quote, then discussing with social circles/friends through social media, right through to signing a contract, moving from TV to tablet to desktop to branch visit, to smartphone to contact centre and even to review posts.

This is normal for the now-age customers. It is not possible for any service provider, whether they are retailers, banks, hotels, e-commerce giants, start-ups or anyone else, to set their own rules and assume that the customers and prospects will happily abide by them. On the contrary, the now-age customers will become frustrated and eventually move to a service provider who fits in their scheme of touch points and expectations. An apt example can be, banking through mobile applications.

This is not just mobile technology, but a world of converged technology. Customers will use the platforms and channels that seem most appropriate for a specific task at a specific time. It’s the responsibility of banks and enterprises to be there for them always. That means, Omni-channel is the way that banks and insurance companies have to do business, starting now.

Omni-channel orchestration within this layer ensures consistency of experience, and enables data and processes to follow the customer as they move from one platform and activity to another. In the world of multiple choices and increasing convergence between different forms of technology and platforms, Omni-channel approach is one of the key requirements for improved customer loyalty and reduced churn.