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Guest Blogger Steve Shaw | May 10, 2012

Satisfying Consumers' Appetites Across Channels: Snacking, Lunching, and Fine Dining

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Consumers are increasingly interacting with businesses through a mix of channels. This is especially true in financial services.

Consumers now expect to be able to access their financial information and conduct transactions via any channel they desire, whether that channel is digital or physical. Consumers who use multiple channels also expect information to be accurate, up-to-date, and consistent across channels, at all times. This creates a need for accurate, real-time cross-channel updates. Additionally, how a consumer chooses to interact with a financial institution is influenced by the attributes of different devices or channels; consumers are likely to choose digital channels for self-service and the branch for consultation, for example.

Although online banking has become the primary way in which most consumers connect with their financial institutions, the mobile channel is growing in popularity. With this growth, financial institutions (or any organization, really) should anticipate shifts in the way consumers interact and transact, tailoring services to give consumers the personal and rewarding experience they expect in every channel.

A way to illustrate this is to compare interactions via different channels to something with which we are all familiar: eating. Interactions in the mobile channel are comparable to snacking, while the online channel is equivalent to lunching and the branch to fine dining.

Like snacking, the mobile channel lends itself to quick interactions. Typically, these interactions take less than a minute to accomplish or fulfill an immediate need such as checking balances. According to the 2011 Fiserv Consumer Trends survey, the top reasons consumers use mobile banking are accessibility and convenience. To continue on its strong adoption curve, mobile banking must stay true to this value proposition. No matter how complex a task might be on the back end, it is essential that the consumer's mobile banking experience be simple and "snackable."

Interactions via the online channel are usually more structured and routine than the quick, ad-hoc transactions of the mobile channel. This makes the online channel more like sitting down to eat lunch. Mobile will not replace the online channel, but it will change how it's used. As more consumers adopt mobile banking, they will no longer see a need to wait until they are near a personal computer for quick and simple interactions, but they will continue to go online for tasks such as personal financial management.

The branch channel offers a full menu of services and is ideal for activities where personal interaction is preferred. Consultative activities like wealth management and other advisory services occur infrequently, like fine dining that occurs on special occasions and involves interaction and conversation. The future of the branch is to provide a personal touch and a chance to discuss financial matters face-to-face, almost like having dinner with your financial institution.

Creating the optimum multichannel user experience
To optimize the multichannel experience, financial institutions must leverage an infrastructure that integrates information and aligns systems across channels. This includes account processing systems that integrate with various channels. Additionally, all service channels should pull from one common member data repository, reducing data duplication.

This integration will do more than create efficiencies. It will provide a better understanding of consumer demands, channels, and systems, as well as help the financial institution deliver banking experiences that meet customer expectations across all tasks and access methods.

Although channel use is shifting, consumers will continue to consume financial services like they eat: by snacking, lunching, and fine dining. By creating an integrated multichannel mix, financial institutions will be sure to satisfy the hunger for banking services across all channels and make customer interactions more appetizing.

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About the Author: Steve Shaw is vice president of strategic marketing for digital channels and electronic payments at Fiserv

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