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

The previous article focussed on why the Omni-channel approach is the one of the key requirements for improved customer loyalty and reduced churn in the BFSI segment. This article will look at the other two points –

 

a) Precisely-targeted customer engagement

Maintaining an effective monopoly of customer loyalty in the existing Indian BFSI market is not that easy. The future envisages large banks acting as utilities and providing commodity service to move assets from place to place without any direct customer contact at all. And similar changes are taking place in other sectors like telecommunications, energy and retail distribution etc. Customer service is a retail activity, requiring the skills, insights and quality standards that are normally associated with high quality retailing, and some of the leading players in the Indian BFSI domain like Kotak Mahindra Bank, AXIS Bank, HDFC Life, Max Life etc. are already breaking new ground with their easy-to-use, retail-focused business approaches. Many traditional banks and insurance companies in India have a long way to go before they can compete with the best-in-class retail focused players, and to achieve the same they need to maintain the loyalty of their customers by moving from push to pull.

This will happen when all customers are known, understood and analysed as individuals. This cannot be achieved through technology alone. The market of push-to-pull approach will require customers to opt-in the proactive approach proposed by banks. The push-to-pull approach is becoming a normal practice now-a-days in the media and entertainment industry, wherein content providers have started moving away from broadcast model to a selective model; consumers pull exactly what they want and when they want. Now financial institutions are replicating this approach through provision of self-servicing methods of accessing information and carrying out various transactions. While doing the same, they can follow the example of successful Indian ecommerce retailers (Flipkart, Amazon, Snapdeal etc.) and take a step further in delivering targeted services.

Moving away from opt-out towards opt-in is a delicate area, with customer privacy and data protection law backed by stringent financial regulations in general. All these factors combined impose strict limits for banks and insurance companies to use customer data with ease. In most of the cases, customers are retaining the ownership of their own personal information and will have to give permission for it to be used for the purpose of refining and targeting better quality services. Financial institutions must understand that there is a fine line between value and invasion of privacy, hence, great care and sensitivity is required while structuring and delivering the proactive services. The proactive efforts in customer engagement will define the future relationship between financial institutions and the customers.

While making the proactive approach a reality, we, marketers/mobility solution providers and the banks must understand the Omni-channel world; where every customer contact or touch point ultimately leads to a pool of big data storing content that need to be analysed. The contact channels include, normal methods like branch to call centres and from online channels to smartphones and tablets to essential supplementary systems, all of which add to the depth and quality of customer insights. This will not only provide feedback into customer experience layer, enabling better informed interactions at all touch points but also, will enable the financial institutions of this country to be active in proposing ideas and solutions that will be welcomed by the concerned customer. This can be termed as ultimate feedback loop wherein, fulfilment that takes the form of customised services, fine-tuned to suit the needs of the individual and incentivised through a carefully targeted loyalty scheme. This is one area where insurance companies are leading by use of real-time linked to real insights concerning customer behaviour making it possible to deliver policies/solutions, which are tailor-made for individuals.

 

b) The Omni-channel driven transformation

In the growing challenge of digitisation, Indian BFSI players need to transform some key aspects of their own organisation in order to provide the fast response service that now-age customers demand in the mobile age. This is a transformational process that may drive change in organisational structure, attitudes and behaviour across the entire business for good. A faster adaptation will make them stay competitive.

Financial institutions tend to have complex technology environment for various reasons. The changing role of in-branch banking is an interesting reminder of the fact that the move to Omni-channel communication management, together with rapidly growing digitisation of the institutions is not simply a matter of remote technologies. As more of day-to-day transactions are carried out online or via mobile devices/smartphones, the face-to-face customer contact assumes greater importance for the banks and customers alike. Going to the branch in near future will be a choice made by the customers who need and want added value in terms of personal contact or expert advice. They will be offered an integrated added value service, using digital signage, based on large scale interactive displays, backed by instant connection to a network of financial product specialists and solutions experts, so that they can gain both multi-dimensional insights to high-value services and immediate hands-on guidance from known experts on the subject in hand.

Success for Indian banks and insurance companies in the future market place will be directly linked to the customer experience. Banks who will profile millions of individuals very accurately to target them in a proactive way with customised services and to be present at all the key decision making points in a customer’s life will be considered as winners. Also, they need to deliver consistent and consistently excellent experience across all platforms, channels and all costumer touch points. This transformation is a means to an end. It is the key to creating a virtuous circle in which an excellent experience reinforces loyalty, focuses resources on higher value individuals, maximises value both to the customers and to the financial institutions, delivering mutually beneficial situation for both.