A client reached out the other day because he noticed that we’re in the process of unveiling a new title for my practice area. From here on, you’ll predominantly hear Javelin describe things from an “omnichannel” perspective rather than a “multichannel” perspective. It’s not just a nuance to provide an excuse to print up new business cards, tweak our website, and update my LinkedIn profile. It’s a change that highlights why strategic channel thinking must evolve as the financial services industry knits together separate service channels in an era of “always-on” interactive finance.

In a multichannel framework, the focus is on how to build multiple channels into a business. That enables the customer to decide which channel makes the most sense for a given transaction. As an analogy, imagine that you were a customer trying to decide which door would be most convenient when visiting a store. Customers strolling down Main Street will want to come in the automatic front door. Others coming from the parking lot in the rear would prefer a door that saved them walking around to the front. Many financial institutions have been taking this approach as they augmented branch banking with online banking, mobile banking, call centers, social media, and so forth. Each is a door that provides customers with more choice and flexibility. But too often the user experience is inconsistent -- maybe the side door is manual and there’s no neon sign to provide consistent branding.

In the omnichannel framework, the emphasis shifts to ensuring the brand and experience are consistent and integrated no matter which door the customer comes through. The strategic goal is to ensure that FIs can track and serve customers across whatever channels they use, and to provide a consistent, integrated brand and user experience. From a banking perspective, this will involve eliminating the silos, and ensuring that real-time data is delivered uniformly at the branch, ATMs, online, and on mobile devices. It also assumes consumers will use all the channels at some point or another, and financial institutions should aim to provide a consistent experience and track that customer regardless of channel. It will mean ensuring that products are available across all channels, not offered just through one channel. Tracking customer behavior across channels and understanding the byplay between channels will grow in importance as the industry improves its ability to gather and mine data and to deliver alerts, offers, and other communications and services to customers.

You can see the philosophical roots for this evolutionary shift in Javelin’s approach in our Customer-Driven Architecture™. This concept -- introduced in 2009 and updated in 2012 -- offers a seven-phase blueprint for delivering unprecedented control to consumers and higher profitability to the financial services industry. An omnichannel approach is essential if financial institutions are to deliver integrated control. We also flagged the advent of omnichannel thinking as one of the top 10 trends that will shape the financial services industry in 2013. A case in point is a report on digital account opening scheduled for release this summer. Previously, we wrote about this topic from a multichannel perspective as “online account opening.” It is my intent to refocus on “digital account opening,” because in an omnichannel world an applicant might research the account and start an application online; whip out a smartphone to transmit an image of a driver’s license and to review an alert on the status of the application; and maybe step into a branch for face-to-face clarification or onboarding. Ideally, the applicant will enjoy a seamless, efficient omnichannel experience.

Author

About Mark Schwanhausser

Mark strategizes how financial institutions can track and serve customers across the channels they use, and provide a consistent, integrated brand and user experience. Mark helps banks and credit unions profitably enable customers to monitor and manage their money more intelligently through technology such as online banking, mobile banking, personal financial management, financial alerts, and technologies on the horizon. 

Mark led the development of Javelin’s Digital Banking Maturity Path, a strategic framework for assessing a financial institution’s ability to deliver advice in digital channels, and the Financial Journey Model, which builds digital banking on a foundation of time-tested personal finance principles. He has also mapped out strategies to upgrade online banking, digital account opening, and financial alerts in a mobile-first era. 

Before joining Javelin, Mark was a personal finance reporter for the San Jose Mercury News. He covered money and emerging trends in financial services and payments technology.

Mark has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia and attended Antioch College.

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About Beth Robertson

Beth Robertson, CCM, is a Senior Consultant in Javelin's Payments practice area. With nearly 30 years of experience in financial services, Beth works with clients to gain strategic insights into payment trends, including evolving services and strategies, implications for ACH, and exploring alternative payment systems.

Beth’s prior experience includes:

  • Partner and Managing Director of Camino Consulting, advising clients on a wide array of payments services, including enterprise payment services and strategy, delivery channels, and related financial service industry initiatives such as business strategy, product positioning, and market entry;
  • Senior Manager at First Annapolis Consulting, Inc., advising leading financial services institutions and vendors about payments services, positioning, and strategy;
  • Business Director for Banking and Payments, as well as Research Director in the Global Payments Practice at TowerGroup, focusing on traditional, online, and alternative payment services and on fraud detection and risk management in the online channel;
  • PSI Global, Vice President and Manager of the Billing and Payments Research Practice; Consulting Director, managing major research and consulting projects focused on payments services and online delivery;
  • Various management roles at Exxon Company USA, Trans Data Corporation, and at Maryland National Bank.

Beth has delivered numerous executive presentations for clients and at major financial services industry conferences and has been quoted in many news services and journals, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CBS Marketwatch, National Public Radio, American Banker, CNN.com, and Banking Strategies magazine. She previously served on the Steering Committee and as Chair of NACHA’s Council for Electronic Billing and Payment.

Beth received an M.B.A. from Salisbury University and holds a B.A. degree in Economics and Business Administration from McDaniel College. She is a permanently certified cash manager (CCM), receiving her accreditation from the Association of Financial Professionals in 1986.

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    About Al Pascual

    An accomplished industry analyst, market researcher, and financial industry practitioner, Al Pascual is Javelin’s Research Director and Head of Fraud & Security. As Research Director, Al leads Javelin’s Advisory Services and Custom Research businesses. He oversees growth of these businesses while ensuring that Javelin’s research content meets quality standards and provides the innovative perspectives that clients expect from the firm.

    As Head of Fraud & Security, Al provides clients actionable insights on a variety of fraud and security issues, acts as a partner in developing strategies for managing risk, and identifies and raises awareness of future threats and solutions. Al researches a range of topics, including the applicability of biometrics in banking and payments, the effect of data breaches on the integrity of consumer identities, the relationship between identity fraud and loyalty, and the best methods for securing payment data and transactions.

    Al has presented findings from Javelin’s rigorous, industry-leading research at conferences around the world, including BAI, CARTES, Money20/20, NACHA, and RSA. Al has provided commentary on fraud and security issues to American Banker, Bloomberg, CNNMoney, Fox Business, Reuters, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and Wired.

    Previously Al held risk management roles at HSBC, Goldman Sachs, and FIS. He is a member of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the International Association of Financial Crimes Investigators, and the Federal Reserve Secure Payments Task Force. Al also serves on the board of advisers to the Information Security Media Group. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of South Florida.

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