Customers desire the flexibility to select the easiest and most convenient channel in which to conduct their business. For instance, I may want start to filling out a loan application at home on my iPad and then decide go to down to my local branch to ask a question about it – and I don’t want to have to start over at the very beginning. By the same token, I don’t want to have to open one mobile app to look at my credit card transactions and another mobile app to monitor my checking account. An omnichannel experience means that consumers can select any channel in which they’d like to interact and any device they want to use, and they still have a secure, convenient and familiar way to transact financially. In Javelin’s recent report --10 Trends for Financial Services in 2013--we identify omnichannel has the next challenge for FIs in 2013.

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Instead of treating each channel as a siloed, separate encounter, the goal for financial institutions is to attain a unified, connected, branded relationship. On the back end, financial institutions must be able to track a customer uniformly across channels, or else face an unintegrated, choppy picture of the customer’s behavior. If the engagement happens to be with a fraudster, a siloed approach could even open the door to greater opportunities for loss. This does not mean solutions will be identical in all channels, but consumers’ experiences will be harmonious and connected. Inconsistency in the brand experience across channels creates confusion and frustration for customers Microsoft’s new operating system, Windows Phone 8, takes an omnichannel approach. Microsoft is counting on a commonality of features across mobile phone, tablet and laptop to cross-pollinate users from each platform and attract them to the next. Apple’s iCloud is another example of an omnichannel move. Launched on October 12, 2011, this cloud storage and backup service for apps, calendars, contacts, music, photos, and other data now has 190 million active users.28 No matter which iOS device consumers use to access iCloud data, the experience will be the same.

In the face of these changes, Javelin’s report -- 10 Trends for Financial Services in 2013--suggests that stakeholders:

  • Invest now to increase competitive positioning and seamless link consumer activities.
  • Provide lower-cost, self-service channels to maintain profitability in times of shrinking margins and increasing expectations. Online is the preferred channel for conducting banking transactions, such as checking account balances (66%), transferring funds (51%), or paying bills (42%).
  • Turn branches into information centers for high‐value activities

For more on the role of retailers and their increasing position in the payments business, see Javelin’s report – 10 Trends for Financial Services in 2013.