The pandemic has permanently changed the way banks interact with their clients. While the use of digital banking channels has experienced a sharp increase, personal touchpoints have been rare or non-existent (see our latest banking study). The drop in face-to-face interaction poses a serious challenge to the Swiss banking sector, where well-established personal relationships with clients are often crucial for selling products & services. In this new digital era, the challenge for Swiss banks is two-fold; how can the digital experience of clients be elevated, while at the same time personal relationships be maintained?
This blogpost is the second in our five-part series on “Five strategic imperatives for marketing executives in banking”.
In this post, we outline how Swiss banks can sustain and even deepen their client personal relationships through digital channels and provide their clients with a unique and memorable customer experience.
59% of clients will continue to use digital services when the coronavirus pandemic subsides
Before the pandemic, for most people the bank advisor used to be the primary point of contact with their bank. A visit to the branch was common. COVID has changed that. Most of clients’ interactions with the bank have been abruptly pushed into the digital space. This has accelerated a shift in client behaviour that was already well underway, and not just among younger customer groups. Our latest “Digitalisation of banking 2021” study shows that this is by no means a temporary phenomenon. 59% of our survey respondents declared that they will continue to use digital channels to interact with their banks – an 8%points increase compared to our previous survey in 2020. While branches will remain an important cornerstone (55% of respondents plan to visit a branch as frequently as before the pandemic), Swiss banks must make growing use of digital channels as their primary client touchpoint. For clients obtaining information on banking products & services and also for customer services, self-service through digital channels will become the norm – not the exception.
What does this imply for Swiss banks?
Clients’ growing acceptance of and even demand for digital channels to bank wherever and whenever they want, has led banks worldwide to step up their digital offering. In response to that, banks started to present their clients with multiple channels to interact with – ranging from simple online and mobile banking, to live video-calls with advisors, and smart chatbots. But simply increasing the number of channels and having the freedom to choose among them is unlikely to lead to success. More important is to learn how to create a compelling and well-orchestrated omni-channel experience leveraging this new touchpoint ecosystem. Banks which understand this are able to offer their clients a seamless and tailored experience across all channels and services are likely to emerge as winners.
Create moments that matter
While it might seem difficult to empathise with clients and their challenges online, digital channels offer great potential for banks to get to know their clients on an even deeper level. Banks equipped for the digital age have long figured out that the new gold standard for banking is making sense of client data. With the necessary IT infrastructure in place, they can track every interaction and measure every engagement by their clients across all touchpoints. Coupled with leading analytics tools, this provides them with unique insights into their clients’ behaviour and needs. Understanding how clients move within the bank’s unique “experience universe”, is key to shaping the moments that matter. But what exactly is a “moment that matters” and how can they be influenced?
- Start by understanding the experience universe
The first step is to understand the bank’s experience universe. This depicts the clients’ experience with the bank, ranging from first-hand touchpoints, such as in-person interactions in the branch, to mentions of the banks’ brand by third-parties in the news or social media. In order to shape the moments that really matter, it is essential to understand (and model) your clients’ unique paths through the experience universe, to identify how and where to engage best with them.
- Build a strong brand and be consistent across channels
Our recent blog post describes how banking clients are purpose-led and prefer brands they can identify with. This needs to be adequately reflected in the organisation’s branding. With today’s wealth of channels to choose from, it is key to provide clients with a consistent brand image across all client touchpoints – on- and offline. Strengthening the digital brand and aligning the design system across the whole experience universe must therefore be at the top of banks’ post-pandemic to-do list. This will allow them to provide their clients with a consistent brand image and trusted environment, no matter which channel they choose to interact with.
- Listen to clients and tailor their interactions
One of the great benefits of consistently “listening” to your clients and collecting a wealth of data is the ability to acquire comprehensive knowledge about product & service preferences. Tactics like “Social listening” – where organisations monitor social media channels for mentions of their brand, competitors, product, etc. – is a powerful tool to understand how clients feel and what they want from the brand and to discover opportunities to act. All of this allows banks to provide their clients with more meaningful and personalised content and advice.
- Elevate the client experience from multi- to optichannel*
Simply offering clients a large selection of different interaction channels and a well-designed but siloed journey within them, will not be enough to succeed in the digital age. Clients prefer to jump between channels and would like to start where they left off at the last channel. For instance, many clients will gather some initial information on a product online, then pose follow-up questions directly to an advisor and finally wish to finalise the purchase in a branch in person. The task for banks, therefore, is to truly understand which journey their clients want and identify the touchpoints they prefer to use, to then ensure a seamless transition across all offered channels. By focusing on the channels & interactions that matter to each client, banks will be able to economise on marketing expenditure, simplify the communication process and ultimately offer a winning client experience through moments that matter. This is what a successful optichannel experience is all about.
*What Is optichannel?
Optichannel, the latest step in the evolution of marketing, describes the idea that rather than offering more and more channels and integrating them, companies should instead focus more on being “at the right place at the right time”. An omnichannel approach (the current best practice), allows customers to engage with a company on any preferred channel at every step along a journey. An optichannel strategy, however, prescribes the optimal channel for each customer at each touchpoint, based on their goals and previous client data.
Get in touch with us, and see how we can help you give your own clients the experience they really want – at every stage of their journey.