Many years ago we stayed with our banks and had relationships with our bank managers.
We bought insurance from insurance companies and we knew who and where to go. Wind forward to 2014 and the financial services sector is in the midst of the disruptive consumer.
It is now usual to have accounts at three different banks, transact through mobile devices and do everything to avoid calling the dreaded call centre or VOIP virtual assistant. We ‘omni-channel’ through different digital devices and still we go into a bank branch as part of those interactions. But we expect different things and we don’t necessarily expect them in the same way.
Recently in the Financial Standard, Metcash was concerning itself with the new go-to-market model in the USA.
Arresting the problem requires new strategies that embrace new distribution points to supplement traditional intermediary channels, and while digital distribution is one platform, others are working with groups that already have massive points of presence in the community: grocery supermarket chains.
And this is why in the US MetLife is putting so much effort into developing its alliance with the Walmart supermarket giant setting up two pilot site in-store kiosks in Georgia and South Carolina almost as a hybrid digital and human interaction ‘clicks and mortar’ approach.
While we may see the consumer choosing supermarket banking and insurance here in Australia, it will never take away from consumer’s emotional attachment to money.
We still want someone to “care” and we still want relationships.
So how does the financial services industry fundamentally change its distribution model as well as meet the needs of a disruptive consumer demanding relationship, not just an app.
New engaging models means new thinking. Rather than focusing on traditional segments and customer monetary value, banks can focus on convenience, empowerment and using digital channels as a way to achieve personal mass communication by enabling their frontline people to be available through social media channels as individuals.
Rather than digital for digital’s sake, being a person-to-person bank is still a viable option and should form part of any omni-channel experience.
Consulting firm Accenture has published an omni-channel one page plan. It is focused on the provider’s strategy:
- Be engaged in your customer’s eco-system
- Be a channel of choice anywhere anytime
- Be relevant
These are mapped against the customer’s expectations
- “Know me”
- “Show me you know me”
- “Enable me”
- “Value me”
This is critically important for banks to get right. With banks not only facing a disruptive consumer, but also potential new financial services incumbents, from supermarkets, to crowdfunding to technology brands (*77% of US customers 34 years and younger would consider banking with a non-bank player) perhaps it’s time for banks to starting acting more like Apple than an institution.
Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.
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