Channels

10:35 AM
John Wilson, Capco
John Wilson, Capco
Commentary
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Don’t Alienate Your Customer: Building A Successful Bank Channel Strategy

Banks need to dig into what is driving customers to use products or services in certain channels and find points of integration to deliver a more customer-centric channel strategy.

A solid banking channel strategy allows institutions to become more responsive to opportunities. As social media shifts the way we communicate, banks must consider how to attract and respond to clients and customers.

In today’s connected society, how a bank interacts with its customers is just as important as what it has to say or offer. Banks have felt this pressure for quite a while, which has led to the introduction of new channels of interaction such as mobile and Internet banking. However, managing these touch points has become strenuous.

The goal of a well-managed banking channel strategy should be to extend the reach of the banking institution using the unique features available and to focus on those features that drove customers to choose this method. A well-defined banking channel strategy should provide orchestration between customers, sales and client support layers. It should also provide optimal customer experiences across all channels and take into account the expected customer value.

Banking Channels Today

Traditional channels include face-to-face interactions via branches, a mainstay of the community banking, or in person visits from relationship managers. Other non-personal channels have emerged as customer preferences have evolved. For example, ATMs have flourished over the years because of accessibility and online banking and call centers have made institutions available beyond the normal 9 to 5.

It is important to remember that any interaction with customers can be viewed as a channel. Many are overlooked such as Lockbox for commercial customers or customer marketing at events.

Recently, the industry has started adopting mobile and social media into its strategies. Many banks have Facebook pages and offer support on Twitter and some banks have even taken to Pinterest. As this digital shift in communications takes place, it is imperative that institutions be ready to adjust to the latest and most effective trends that emerge.

One area of focus is the mobile channel. There are now more wireless devices in the United States than there are people, and according to the trade group CTIA, Americans have doubled the amount of Internet data traffic they generate on smartphones.

But simply offering products doesn’t equate to a successful strategy. Part of the process is finding unique features associated with a banking channel and building upon those features to create competitive advantages. Many institutions end up replicating existing processes without offering any additional value. This is mostly seen in organizations that roll out mobile capabilities that are mirrors of what is available to online banking customers.

So what should you consider when building a comprehensive banking strategy? Here are three starting points to think about:

1. Think About the Customer

Focus on what your customers are interested in and how they are going about getting this information. Take away the focus on the products or services themselves but why customers are choosing this option. Is there a particular driver that they are looking for?

2. Think Long-Term

As your product set grows make sure to look long term and see what areas of integration are available.

3. Assess New Communications Channels

Trends change quickly so make sure to do the internal review of your business and avoid chasing fads that may fade quickly. Focus on what will truly drive business from customers and not what fans and followers of the latest inclination say.

Within the industry and on many occasions, I have seen growth which leads to siloed and expensive re-creation of services that could have been avoided. Building a solid strategy allows institutions to become faster and more responsive to opportunities that arise. Don’t let your banking strategy be an afterthought. Instead use the above points to create a strong, lasting strategy that will be remembered and revered by your customers and clients.

What channels do you see working best for banking clients and customers? Have you found some social media channels to be more successful than others?

John Wilson is a senior consultant at Capco's North American banking practice.

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