“Omnichannel” approach offers customer retention and new business opportunities.

PROFIT INSIGHT® has a new white paper that details the benefits of “Omnichannel,” the banking industry’s latest watchword for leveraging available technologies to create a more rewarding banking experience for customers. The white paper was authored by PROFIT INSIGHT Director Susan Canfield, a banking business intelligence expert specializing in process improvement, change management and electronic & online banking channels.

Banks historically create new channels to introduce evolving technology and increase services to their customers, but can take different routes in delivering those services. The white paper, entitled “Improve Customer Experience by Optimizing Channels,” describes the silo channels used when a customer interacts with the bank through an ATM, an online service, branch operation or mobile device, as well as the silos used for interactions like deposits, loan processing, withdrawals and payments. “Offering a customer this multiple channel approach may do more harm than good,” the white paper explains. Customers may be required to verify their identity at multiple points, or their preferred channel may lack the data needed to make decisions, frustrating customers and driving them to seek better services elsewhere.

Many banks are using cross-channel approaches, in which customers begin their interaction through a single channel and then are routed to other channels when the initial request cannot be fulfilled or when the customer wants to accomplish additional tasks during the visit. “It’s an improvement over channel silos,” Canfield says, “but it still requires the customer to jump through hoops and interact with the bank the way the bank wants, not the way the customer prefers. It’s simply not the modern approach that banks need to build business for today’s more discerning and tech-savvy consumers.”

The omnichannel approach is the answer, as all business channels and services are optimized to create the best possible experience for customers, PROFIT INSIGHT has found. “Big box retailers have developed the concept extremely well,” Canfield says. “Banks can too, and not just the big box brands. Leveraging existing technologies, banks of most sizes can bring virtually all of their services and business channels to every device and location, increasing customer retention, creating new business opportunities and optimizing their channels,” she says.

As detailed in the white paper, banks must examine five aspects when considering creating an omnichannel experience for their customers: usability, functionality, consistency, availability and channel analytics. Today’s successful banks can no longer satisfy the ever-growing customer expectation of seamless information with the silo strategies of yesterday, and cross channel experiences must be both efficient and transparent for customers. “Financial institutions who take the initiative to improve and enhance the customer experience will have the edge over the competition,” Canfield says. “By implementing omnichannel, they will improve vital relationships with existing customers and attract new ones.”

“Improve Customer Experience by Optimizing Channels” is available at no charge at the company’s website, www.PROFITINSIGHT.com.

Peak Performance in your IVR & Contact Center

There are many metrics to help an institution understand how the company IVR and Contact Center are performing.  But do managers really understand what impacts those numbers and what can be done to make improvements?

Contact Centers can be a hotbed for customer dissatisfaction. Their performance can make or break customer loyalty.  A Contact Center can only become an organizational asset when it:

  • Honors the customer needs (or department needs for internal contact centers)
  • Builds processes to satisfy those needs
  • Measures key performance factors to ensure those processes are working

When these goals are achieved, data such as customer call rationale, representative utilization, hold times, etc. become a critical and trusted part of understanding the entire organization.

Customer service representatives need the ability to answer the phone and resolve questions quickly. Hold times need to be minimized and at or under the customer’s expectation. Yet these important metrics, taken alone, with little or no regard to other client-affecting service level indicators, can lead to a loss of relationships.

PROFIT INSIGHT® helps financial institutions understand how their company IVR and Contact Centers are performing.   We help develop ways to change those centers and the methodology to implement those changes for immediate and dramatic impact on performance. Contact us at www.profitinsight.com/ContactUs to help ensure your front-line is performing at its peak performance.

Time for More Checking Account Changes

Checking once again seems to be in the spotlight as banks and credit unions attempt to balance the need to grow accounts and customers while also driving non-interest income. The ‘new environment’ of lower overdraft fees, less interchange income and higher compliance costs is well documented. Most institutions have now made changes to their product suite to include minimum balance, direct deposit or other activity based criteria in a move away from free checking. As quoted in the Wall Street Journal, and based on Data from Moebs Services, “about 41 percent of U.S. financial institutions are not offering unconditional free checking accounts this year, up eight percentage points from a year earlier.” So certainly there has been a retreat. But while the dust may have temporarily settled, action appears to be heating up.

In surveying recent remarks, promotions and actions, it is clear that there is a desire to grow accounts/customers. Consider the following:
• Simpler fee criteria – RBS Citizens Bank recently introduced account Monday with a ‘simpler criteria’ of making one deposit (through any channel) per month to avoid fees.
• Cash incentives – a quick survey shows Bank of the West, Chase and PNC among a number of banks offering $150; BB&T offering $125 without direct deposit, and on and on.
• Executive comments indicating commitment, including Steve Steinour, CEO of Huntington, who hinted at continuing to look for opportunities to distinguish the brand and commitment to ‘fair play’ banking that began with Asterisk Free Checking and 24-Hour Grace.
• Foreign players such as Barclays, who are stepping up their efforts for online US savings funds through products like the Dream account, with the potential to extend into checking

So while the last two years have seen a flurry of activity and adaptation, actions over the last 30 days reiterate the need to maintain focus on performance while contemplating actions that may be accretive to performance. Certainly it is top of mind with the clients we are working with. Now is the time for action!

Coal for Christmas?

On Christmas Eve, the US Postal Regulatory Commission approved the request of the US Postal Service for a variety of rate hikes effective January 26, 2014. Some key changes include first class mail going from 46 to 48 or 49 cents (depending on whether it is metered or not), flats going from 92 to 98 cents, and postcards going from 33 to 34 cents. Given the timing, this certainly flew unnoticed for many, and represented little in the way of yuletide cheer.

While one can debate the increase or the amounts, the reality is that paper based communications with customers can be expensive. In most instances they are required, though financial institutions do a good job (pun intended) of keeping customer mailboxes regularly filled. There are many more powerful methods today for maintaining contact with clients, with the benefit of more timely and relevant messaging.

So was it really coal, or perhaps the incentive you need to rethink how you are communicating with your customers? Why spend more money when you can more effectively and efficiently meet their needs by determining what to send, when to send it, and how to send it?  You decide.

Spring was a busy time for deposit advance products

Spring was a busy time for deposit advance products with regulators. The CFPB kicked it off with a whitepaper at the end of April, the Federal Reserve released a statement regarding the CFPB’s whitepaper on the same day, and then the FDIC followed up by issuing their proposed guidelines one day later.

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