The Branch of the Future Demands an OmniChannel Experience
In recent years, U.S. banks have been focused on providing multi-channel strategies, which simply means that banks have been investing in ways to engage customers using numerous channels. For decades, the retail bank branch was the only way to engage consumers until ATMs came along in the 1970s. Very little was done in the way of developing new engagement strategies until the 1990s, when the Internet prompted online banking. Years later, smartphones quickly saturated the American market, enabling customers to complete transactions without the help of a bank employee or teller.
While consumers now have greater choices with the ability to bank in person, online or on the go, what’s missing is a consistent consumer experience. In order for the branch of the future to become reality, leaders in the banking industry will need to develop and refine a strategy that optimizes everyday banking experiences within every channel.
Enter the OmniChannel strategy.
Getting it Right in Retail
The best retailers are the ones who deliver a true OmniChannel experience, which considers all potential consumer interactions. Regardless of how a consumer interacts with a brand – via mobile, computer, brick-and-mortar, TV, radio, direct mail or email – messaging and experiences must be consistent, and consistently good. Verizon Wireless is a prime example of a retailer who is getting it right. When it comes to creating a consistent experience for the consumer, Verizon Wireless delivers a strong, high quality OmniChannel experience through their base products and industry-leading network. They offer abundant technology to utilize this network via smartphones, tablets and accessories.
Recently they’ve started implementing “Smart Stores” that feature high-tech lifestyle zones. These zones allow customers to interact with their products. In the “Get Fit” zone, customers can step onto a treadmill and wear a Fitbit product to see how it actually works. In the “Amplify It” zone, customers can receive helpful hands-on training on how to use Verizon’s “School of Rock Amplify It” App. Using tablets and headphones, Verizon customers learn the ins and outs of the app, and how to mix their own music.
Verizon Wireless is a technology company. Their network, their products and their services revolve around the latest technology. What they are getting right with the “Smart Stores” movement is creating a quality high-tech, consistent experience that offers hands-on interactions with both products they sell and the Verizon Wireless brand.
It’s Not Just for Retailers Anymore
The “Branch of the Future” is a hot topic in the retail banking industry right now. As banks evaluate how to update the brick-and-mortar channel, it’s worth looking at a strong player in the retail industry to see how creating a consistent experience for the customer can increase sales and build loyalty.
Taking a page out of the retailers’ OmniChannel book in order to create a similar experience in banking will allow the branch of the future to truly unfold. Not only will the everyday bank experience be improved; customer engagement will shift towards a mixture of refined personalization, increased self-service availability and improved interaction capabilities. Not to mention banks will be giving consumers an overall experience that they have come to expect from those industries that get OmniChannel right. Giving customers the ability to use multiple channels is great, but only by creating a consistent experience across all channels will the branch of the future come into its own and evolve intelligently within the Age of the Customer.