Monday, August 18, 2014

The Discombobulated Sides of OmniChannel Banking

The definition of "omni" is "all". Omnichannel means all channels. The definition of discombobulate is "confusion or disorder". There is plenty of confusion about omnichannel banking. 

The current fervor in banking over omnichannel is focused on the member/customer experience. The goal is to create a seamless experience across all banking channels. 

Be warned, focusing only on the member or customer experience is like giving your 16 year old son an airplane on his birthday without any flying experience, and telling him to go take it for a quick test flight. It is going to be quick alright, ..... as it crashes and burns. There are two sides to omnichannel banking. The side your members or customers uses to interact with your credit union or bank, and the forgotten side. The side your member/customer facing employees use to interact and support your clients. 

What is driving omnichannel banking? Too many technology solutions that don't communicate with each other or share a common interface or user experience. In short, the user experience ...... how do I say this politely...... SUCKS! As a former executive of a banking core data processing company, I can attest that banking is a complex business that involves many products and technology solutions. One of the primary goals of omnichannel banking is to have all the member/customer facing solutions communicate with each other and provide a user experience that doesn't look and feel as though there are a bunch of systems pasted together    

If member/customer look, feeling and experience are not important to you then you may
think you can solve the problem by creating a single sign-on that allows members/customers to access multiple technology solutions through a your website or mobile application. Yes you can do that, and that is what most financial institutions are doing today. 

If your credit union or bank has the ability to deliver multiple products and service solutions through your website or mobile application have you ever tried it? Even with a single sign-on it is a very frustrating experience which often leads to a phone call to your call center or a visit to a branch. That is not even effective multichannel banking. If they wanted to talk or make a trip to the branch they would have done that in the first place.

Assume for a second that you have solved the member/customer user experience. You get a check-mark, but you are a long way from being finished and accepting pats on the back and your next promotion. As I already pointed out, banking is complex business. As much as you improve, refine, and advance your member or customer user experience or add automated decisioning, workflow routing or intelligent analytics, there are still going to be times that members and customers will need to talk with a live person. That's when the breakdown occurs and the member or customer enters "banking hell". You know, that place reserved for your members or customers that love to seek out the CEO or Board Member to complain.

You have created and implemented all these great external member/customer facing systems. They all work great together,...... until they don't. Now the member/customer must emerge from the protective cocoon of your carefully crafted omnichannel banking user interface into the harsh reality of employees that do not have a clue what the hell the member is doing or talking about. Without tying the same systems together that members or customers access for your member/customer facing employees with an internal user interface that is actually helpful, you have condemned your valuable clients and staff to "banking hell", from which they return after much frustration, angst and wasting of time. Yet another satisfied customer.  

For an omnichannel banking strategy to succeed it will require focusing on both the member/customer users experience and the member/customer facing employees user experience and related tools, systems and processes. An omnichannel banking strategy should not be undertaken lightly, but for those credit unions and banks that do, ..... the reward can be great. Don't let your omnichannel strategy crash and burn.        


  1. Great article, David. We, at Akcelerant Software ( endorse much of what you said. It’s important that the technology used by Credit Unions and Banks support the Omni-Channel not only for the consumer-facing view, but also (and probably equally as importantly) for the all the staff of the Financial Institution. This includes the Loan Officer, the Underwriter, and all the valuable back-office staff. Without a single technology solution that can handle Sales, Origination, Service and Collection, a great customer experience can quickly turn miserable, unprofitable, or worse, into a sales lost opportunity. Further, while these initiatives should not be undertaken lightly (we agree), we heartily recommend that they should be undertaken soon, nonetheless.

    Larry Edgar-Smith
    SVP, Product Sales Support
    Akcelerant Software

  2. Thank you for your comments Larry. Omnichannel must move from "buzz" word to understanding to implementation. Credit union and bank executives face some significant challenges based on consumer's changing expectations in the banking market, and non-traditional financial service providers who are seeking to take the higher margin business away from banks and credit unions.