Banks seem to have never fully “gotten” the Internet. Only after intense consumer pressure did they even start building Internet banking capabilities and they did this by pushing their existing applications, screens, processes and tools to the Web, simply by adding a new interface. We call this approach “inside-out”—thinking from the banks’ perspective instead of from the customer’s perspective. This mistake, which was made over ten years ago, is still the main reason most banks lack a great online user experience. Only in the past few years have some banks started to rebuild their Internet banking platforms from scratch and are finally incorporating user feedback and focusing on user experience and design. Banks are just beginning to build with the outside-in, customer-first approach that is essential for succeeding online.
Yet even now, in a time when banking is starting to move more and more towards the mobile channel, the same mistakes are being made. Banks think they can copy what they did before and apply the same strategy to their multi-channel banking projects—not realizing that computers, tablets, and mobile devices are all completely different channels that deserve separate and optimized approaches, and above all an outside-in approach to thinking from the end-user’s perspective. In a successful multi-channel banking experience, it is not only about mobile phones, tablets, and different computers; a successful multi-channel banking experience also incorporates the call center and, yes, even the branch offices.
Creating for Attitude and Behavior Instead of Devices
The biggest mistake most banks make when they talk and think about their multi-channel strategy is focusing on creating identical apps and websites for different devices, which is the same inside-out mistake they made when building for the Web. If you take a outside-in, end-customer’s perspective on the multi-channel challenge, you will see it is not about different devices, per se, but about the different attitudes, behaviors and situations of the consumers using those different devices.
Step one in a successful multi-channel banking experience is to make sure that different apps and websites are optimized for different attitudes: the quick, the casual, the focused and the physical (for example, if your customers like to drink coffee with their banker). We can then relate the attitudes to specific devices: quick to smartphones, casual to tablets, focused to laptops and desktops and physical to branches. However, when building these apps, stop thinking about them as, for example, a “smartphone-optimized version of our regular Internet banking platform.” Instead, think about building an app that helps people do simple things, quickly and easily, in a setting where they are most likely in a hurry or on the road. Again, it is not about the device—it’s about the attitude and the behavior preferences of the customer most likely using that device.
Linking the Channels: The Cross-Channel Journeys
The second step is to link the different apps together, making a cross-channel journey possible. Because a real customer uses different channels at different times, it is likely that they will start one task on one device (e.g., check out mortgage rates on their smartphone) and will take the process further on a different device (e.g., applying on their laptop) or channel (e.g., asking for advice via the call center). It is not enough to have different apps for different channels. Apps have to be linked and integrated in one platform to deliver one seamless cross-channel journey.
In the loan application example above you see exactly this. Different actions can be completed using different channels (called “user touchpoints”). No (potentially new) customer wants to have to restart the process and fill in the information and details previously provided again, nor explain the situation from the beginning if calling the call center or visiting the branch.
The way forward for banks that want to become successful across multiple channels is to have a strategy where they build specific apps for specific attitudes: quick, casual, focused and physical. But the real game changers are linking those apps in one journey, bringing “service design–like thinking” to the banking sector. Exchanging information, processes and data between different applications and making the switch between channels becomes seamless and intuitive, increasing the likelihood of completing an application or sale significantly and making the multi-channel banking experience a great one.