Fuji Xerox and RFi Group brought together some of the largest players in Asia in financial services in August. Discussions focused on the importance of providing consumers an omni-channel experience and the opportunities it presents to the banks for consumer retention and acquisition.
Evolving technology, the emergence of disruptors and changing consumer expectations are all changing the way banks interact with their customers. In fact, customer expectations today are now shaped by the way they interact with big technology firms.
While digital-only customers are rare, it is a growing segment. According to RFi Group research, markets in China and India are seeing the fastest rate of transition towards digital distribution. In Western markets like the United Kingdom and the United States, large branch networks could in fact be a barrier to the digital evolution.
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In fact, the digital evolution continues to impact markets around the world. RFi Research highlights that the proportion of banking customers globally who applied for their most recent product via a bank branch continued to trend downwards over the last 12 months. Meanwhile, the proportion of digital applications increased.
While digital channels are increasingly being used by a growing number of digital savvy consumers, it is crucial that banks realise that meeting the consumer’s needs is not just about providing a digital offering. In fact, RFi Research revealed that most consumers still prefer to use a mix of digital and traditional channels.
It is now more imperative that banks deliver on the omni-channel experience. However, executing a strategy is not that easy.
Motivators and behaviours
According to RFi Group general manager – Asia, Gerald Ferguson, banks can identify target segments within their omni-channel customer base to drive return-on-investment. However, understanding customer motivators and behaviours are key to making sense of these segments.
Ferguson highlighted data that reveals that individual channels such as speaking on the phone, using mobile banking or visiting bank branch have little impact on satisfaction. However, as graph 1 below highlights, focusing on the multi-channel strategy will help banks to increase the satisfaction of their customers.
Importantly, an omni-channel strategy can help banks and financial institutions better cross-sell their products and services.
“Omni-channel consumers communicate with their banks more often, which provides more opportunities for banks to advertise products that they may be interested to take up,” Ferguson said.
As highlighted earlier, the pace of change in technology will only continue and therefore consumer touch points will increase with new ways of interaction being invented. Therefore, it is important for banks to remain innovative.
This theme was picked up in the second keynote presentation by Tim Smith, executive general manager of sales and marketing for Fuji Xerox. Smith oversees the Asian business for the firm which gives him a bird’s eye view of how banks are tackling the omni-channel challenge.
He acknowledged that the challenge to creating an omni-channel platform is complex, a point alluded to earlier by Ferguson.
Highlighting an interesting statistic, Smith said that from 2001 to 2015, ‘email opens’ on mobile devices increased by 30 per cent. But, this is just part of the bigger story and according to Smith, online audiences are constantly moving between devices.
“Around 40 per cent of online adults will sometimes start an activity on one device and finish on another," he said, describing this trend as the “inbox roulette".
Combining digital options
Today’s consumer also simply does not switch off and Smith added that more than half the population check their smartphone within 15 minutes of waking. Fuji Xerox is helping banks connect with their consumers across a variety of channels, from emails, to mobile phones to mail.
However, listening to the consumers and finding a balance between saving costs and investing in providing a better customer service is key. Fuji Xerox ensures success for its clients in customer engagement and providing the omni-channel experience by combining digital options as well as providing a variety of technologies including print channels.
According to Smith, consumers do not like to be told what to do and prefer to have options available to them with the added flexibility. Forcing them to use a particular channel can be detrimental for business. Here Smith noted examples where businesses sent print marketing material to encourage their consumers to use online channels.
He further highlighted a number of examples of how businesses were addressing this challenge of migrating their consumers from paper-based communication to their online channels. One example highlighted at the event was a leading Australian bank, which successfully managed to migrate many of its customers online to use E-Statements and provide a seamless experience.
Online statements save the bank about $35 million per annum in print, mail and call-centre costs. According to Smith, customer demand was the main driver for online statements.
Smith said there was no silver bullet to driving electronic adoption. Success of such a strategy is dependent on regulatory requirements, consumer demographics, cultural preferences and of course technology trends. He concluded his presentation by providing an outlook for the industry including a sobering assessment.
“Customers will be demanding channels in three years time, that haven’t even been invented. There will be more channels to come," Smith concluded.