All around us, there’s a revolution in progress. Nope – it’s not the one you’re thinking of. Yes, I know that there are more smart phones in use than ever. I know that most of us now do our simple banking transactions digitally and an increasing number of those are on mobiles – these aren’t in the nature of the revolution that I’m describing.
The revolution I want to tell you about is far more disturbing. It’s the one where young inexperienced managers, responsible for the digitisation of their banking employer’s bricks and mortar business model are rushing headlong towards a solution without thinking through the problem.
In one example I came across recently, an enthusiastic digital team within a leading High St bank have used UK retailer John Lewis’ success in Click & Collect to underline why they need to push on harder and faster with all things digital. I’m deeply concerned that anyone form banking can look at John Lewis’ retail “Click and Collect” model and see it as relevant to their business. “Click & Collect is great for business when it’s done properly. It provides a means for digital customers who have shopped on line to come into store and continue their shopping experience and in John Lewis’ case add around 30% to their typical on line shopping basket. It is a great example to the retail high street that if you “plan in” Click and Collect to your store model you can make it feel intuitive and right for customers to use. But John Lewis’ retail experience lends nothing to banking.
For years banks have tried to become more like retailers, hiring senior retail staff to their marketing teams, using retail design concepts to influence their physical premises and some of this work has yielded richer customer experiences. But much of it has been irrelevant. Many studies over the last ten years have shown that banks would have produced a better result for their customers and for their bottom line if they had focussed on the nuts and bolts of how they manage their relationships with their customers. A relationship is a continuous stream of interactions, which now happen to be multi-channel. And that’s multi-channel not just digital. The branch clearly still has a part to play in the business model, providing a reassuring and continued presence where people shop but more tangibly a place where the customer can meet expertise, whether it’s the young opening their first account or getting their first mortgage or the grey pound managing their investment portfolio. Either way, this is not a “retail environment”. If anything it’s more like a doctor/patient relationship (“Wealthcare” rather than Healthcare?).
One of the things I do these days is work with change teams in hospitals who are trying to improve the patient experience. One of their continuous frustrations is that their customers almost never complain. However long they have to wait or how badly their journey is managed. They are so grateful to have seen an expert about a subject (their health) that they are anxious about that nothing else matters. I think a bank would kill to exert that kind of authority over their relationship with me as a consumer!
I’d like to see a bit less revolution and a bit more evolution. Some clear headed thinking around what makes a great relationship between a customer and their bank. Rather than jumping straight onto the digital band wagon, let’s have a considered approach to every aspect of the multi-channel strategy. Each element should be given due credence for the component that it represents with the total relationship.
Digital has a huge role to play in banking. Not just in delivering basic transactions but generally it is now the start point of every prospective banking clients discovery process. It must join seamlessly with the other channels allowing the customer to drive the process at their pace and in their way to get to an answer that suits them and is profitable for the bank. That way lays great customer experience and successful, relevant banking brands.
Digital Evolution : The Right Approach to an Omni-channel Banking Strategy