Omnichannel Banking and the Need for Data

The increase in omnichannel Banking requirements drives the demand for high quality, trusted data to support customer engagement regardless of channel and in real-time.

So what’s changed?

Omnichannel Banking and the Need for Data

This conclusion isn’t especially new or ground breaking, after all Banks have been used to working with customers in real-time for a considerable period. What has changed is that more than just traditional transactional data now needs to be included as part of the data capture during all interactions as part of any customer engagement – regardless of which channel the customer chooses, how many channels the customer chooses to use or in what sequence.

Being driven by a younger generation of Banking customers, with high expectations of service provision due to their experiences with some market leading retailers, there is now an increasing demand for channel choice based upon individual preferences allied to continuous availability of the service as well as the ability to switch to an alternative channel if desired. Retail experiences have created an engagement experience based upon deep insight into preference, browsing and purchasing patterns with a trend towards marketing to the individual. This same experience has created an impression that all key service providers (i.e. Banks) have huge amounts of customer data and that this data is being used to drive the engagement process. Banks have traditionally managed their businesses as operational or functional siloes as there was little need to do anything else – that time is coming to an end.

So what do Banks need to consider?

Here I’ve outlined some of the key steps I think Banks need to undertake to move towards an omnichannel engagement experience:

  1. Treat data like a Corporate Asset
    • Many Banks still do not treat their data like a Corporate Asset. A great deal of data still sits in operational siloes, lacks holistic data governance, has unclear ownership and controls, has poorly understood levels of quality, has no clear organisation wide definition and often has poorly enforced policies associated with it.
    • Treating data as a Corporate Asset begins with increasing the awareness of the value of data across an organisation. Many Banks still operate with separate business functions so centralised functions are required to promote data value as they are often the only point in an organisational hierarchy that cares about data across a business. Such functions include Chief Operating Officers and Chief Data Officers.
    • The next step is to change the language around data. This change in language towards one more characterised by it’s organisational value means Banks stop thinking about data in siloes but rather as institutional assets because assets obviously have value. Omnichannel is inherently cross organisation in nature therefore attitudes towards data need to follow.
    • I wrote a blog on this subject, available here.
  2. Create real-time Customer Centric data capabilities
    • Omnichannel, by definition, puts the customer at the centre of the engagement so Banks need to align their data capabilities to suit. Customer Centricity programmes exist in many Banks but my experience has shown that many of these have a limited focus around what data is really required. Omnichannel Banking requires all sources of relevant customer data to be accessed and integrated into a data platform where the resultant data is of a known quality and can therefore be trusted. This goes beyond traditional sources of internal data and needs to include a much wider range of sources.
    • Given the ability to shift channel quickly, Banks needs to consider how to shift to a more real-time operating model to cope with omnichannel. The data platform described above needs to be able to cater for traditional batch operations as well as real-time operations based upon customer demand.
    • I wrote a blog on this subject, which is available here.
  3. Integrate all sources of customer relevant data
    • Across a Bank’s different internal and external engagement points, customer interactions leave Digital Footprints which help explain the customer journey. These footprints get left in lots of places which aren’t traditional sources of customer relevant data. Capturing insights generated as part of the omnichannel engagement process is key to being able to respond accordingly.
    • Application logs that captures when a customer logs onto a service, contact centre communications using secure messaging, complaint handling through support services, phone calls, trial close on a loan application or spending a great deal of time on the same terms and conditions page on the website are all examples of places where footprints get left and which need to be mined for insights to help inform decision making. For example, if a customer has been looking through a help section of a Banks website for how to resolve a missing transaction issue it probably isn’t the best time to try and make an offer for an upgraded account.
    • I wrote a blog in the subject, which is available here. The original post was aimed at the Insurance industry but is still relevant for Banking.
  4. Build a deep and rich Customer360
    • Omnichannel requires a really deep and rich Customer360 view to provide the basis of response to the engagement process regardless of channel. This will be the single, trusted source of customer data used to underpin any omnichannel engagement responses.
    • This requires the integration of internal structured information, external structured information, internal unstructured information and external unstructured information. This requires a range of capabilities that cover a wide range of data disciplines and will also encompass more sophisticated analytical techniques to create value from a range of mined data.
    • I wrote a blog on this subject, available here.
  5. Investigate how disruptive technologies can help
    • Whilst omnichannel is disruptive itself, there are a number of other disruptive technologies appearing in Banking that may provide some new enablers.
    • There are a number of new disruptive technologies that can support omnichannel engagement including social media, big data, internet of things (IoT) and cloud. Each of these disruptive technologies has value in its own right and yet the value of combining some of them together is even bigger. An example might be to combine big data technology with cloud and social media to understand what customers think about a new product or service and to help shape how to respond to that sentiment.
    • I wrote a blog on this subject, which is available here.
  6. Understand the needs and desires of customers
    • There is a new generation of customers who are much more demanding of their Banking suppliers. Omnichannel is much more a norm for this community who are adept at using a range of sophisticated tools and techniques to get the products and services they want, at the right price.
    • Generation D customers are ones who are at the fore front of this change in approach and who are often the community who are driving Banks to engage much more in an omnichannel manner. This community will use alternative sources of insight to help make buying decisions, often sources a Bank has no control over. Really understanding a customer means a Bank can predict the needs and wants of its customer then be ready when these turn into decision making activities. Never has been properly prepared for a customer engagement been so important.
    • I wrote a blog on this subject, which is available here.
  7. Govern all data
    • Data Governance is a important subject for all Banks. The omnichannel approach now includes a wide range of new, non-traditional sources of customer relevant data as well as some new disruptive technologies. Data still needs to be properly and effectively governed regardless of its source, how it is processed or how it is consumed. Disruptive technologies and new data access/processing technologies could lead to breaks in the overall enterprise data governance process which is – frankly – unacceptable.
    • I wrote a blog on this subject, which is available here.

So where next?

Omnichannel as an approach is here to stay. Customers, regardless of whether they are Retail or Corporate in nature, are increasingly demanding new capabilities like omnichannel so Banks need to respond. If they don’t, their competitors will and loss of customers and market share will likely ensue.

Omnichannel is a real opportunity to align Banking service delivery with the needs of many of its customers. It requires a number of significant shifts in approach and use of data technologies to achieve that alignment.

The good news is that all of these data capabilities are available already. Informatica, with its focus on All Things Data, has been at the forefront of many of the developments in data capabilities required to support omnichannel Banking. Simple concepts, such as having data capabilities that can work in either batch or a real-time mode without changing anything, are key enabling capabilities to support any omnichannel Banking approach.

Omnichannel Banking will never be easy. Banks are too complex in the nature of what they do for it to be easy. It is, though, achievable with a concerted effort and a real focus on unlocking the value of all customer relevant data regardless of what it is or where it is.