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The need for banks in SEA to embrace multi-channel banking

o Nurdianah Md Nur
03.06.2014 kl 17:58 | MIS Asia

Banks today are increasingly leveraging their digital channels as a means of interacting with their tech-savvy customers. According to a report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company, mobile and Internet banking have seen a growth of 35 percent in the last three years while bank visits have declined by 27 percent. JR Wong, ASEAN general manager at GMC Software Technology explains the importance of having a multi-channel approach. He also shares his thoughts on the need for brand consistency while providing different channels for customers to interact via the device of their choice.

 

Banks today are increasingly leveraging their digital channels as a means of interacting with their tech-savvy customers. According to a report by consulting firm McKinsey & Company, mobile and Internet banking have seen a growth of 35 percent in the last three years while bank visits have declined by 27 percent. JR Wong, ASEAN general manager at GMC Software Technology explains the importance of having a multi-channel approach. He also shares his thoughts on the need for brand consistency while providing different channels for customers to interact via the device of their choice.

Q: Are banks in Southeast Asia embracing multi-channel banking? Are they placing more emphasis on a particular channel?

Wong: Banks in Southeast Asia need to embrace multi-channel banking. It is no longer a question of whether they will but rather when they will as this is driven by customers' choice. Just recently, the chief executive of DBS said that banks in this region have to embrace digital banking to ensure long-term survival. Digital has been redefined over the years and it is no longer defined by the hardware, software or the platforms we use. So, banks will have to focus on delivering and improving customer experience on both mobile and internet channels. Having said that, mobile is certainly experiencing stronger growth in this region.

According to a report by Accenture, 60 percent of the people in Thailand said they would be happy to do all their Internet surfing on their mobile devices and 65 percent of the people in Indonesia expressed the same sentiment. The worldwide figure for that is just 31 percent which shows a stronger appetite for the mobile platform in this region.

The good news is that this trend now opens a door for banks to add to traditional offerings with value-added services that address business customers' communication challenges. Such services can allow banks to present new opportunities to transform the customer experience and successfully address important market trends that will help them drive revenue.

For banks seeking ways to help their customers fulfil these new expectations, now is the right time to learn what technology is available to erase the technical barriers that block access to more detailed and personalised information and foster two-way dynamic communication.

Q: What challenges do banks in Southeast Asia, face when they adopt a multi-channel approach? How should they overcome these challenges?

Wong: One significant challenge that banks face is definitely communicating with their customers effectively. Not only do their customers have unique backgrounds and interests, they have preferred communication channels for different types of communication as well.

Our survey showed that 72 percent would like to receive information from their banks in a form that they request. A customer may want to receive bank statements only on the iPad, but special promotions by mail. To solve this challenge, the bank needs to gather necessary data and re-purposing them so that it is presented to the customer in a simple and efficient manner on a platform of their choice. This requires technology that taps into various legacy data sources in multiple siloes. It also requires the bank to assemble the desired information and ensure that the completed piece goes out in an appealing format via the customer's preferred communication channel.

In addition, banks will need to make sure that they can utilise existing big data in its raw state from sources in various departments, making it easy to merge and consolidate this data and present it in a clear and appealing way, and as efficiently as possible. Just bear in mind that it also has to create flexible content that automatically changes to match the different formats and layouts as it is a multi-channel approach. A template approach such as that offered by GMC allows banks to leverage on a small number of consistent layouts, making document creation even more efficient.

Another challenge is determining whether a multi-channel approach to customer communications will be in-house or outsourced. If it is a third-party service provider, banks need to make sure that their partner will be able to meet their needs in the areas of agility, flexibility and control. If it is in-house, the solution has to be user-friendly and offer the flexibility to allow customer service representatives and marketing staff to create point-of-need documents for customers while collaborating with print service providers for fulfilment.

Q: Why is it important for banks to have a consistent brand to customers across all their channels especially for those embracing a multi-channel approach?

Wong: Consistent branding across all channels strengthens top-of-mind recall of the brand and conveys messages like competence and reliability. Brand consistency over time matters as well. While new customers are often presented with colourful, glossy brochures and welcome kits, monthly statements are typically in black and white and much duller, weakening mindshare and the reputation of the brand.

One way of enabling consistent branding and messaging is via customer communication management (CCM) solutions. CCM can streamline document creation processes and produce higher quality, relevant highly personalised communications of all types for delivery through print, electronic and interactive channels.

By using digital communication channels, tracking customer clicks and views and enabling highly personalised offers, banks can also provide a better customer service. In an IPSOS Mori survey for GMC in Europe, UK and the US in 2013, only 10 percent of bank customers felt valued and only 16 percent felt that banks understood what they want. An effective enterprise CCM can guide businesses on customer preferences thus improving customer experience. Moreover, banks can now determine which services really matters to each customer so that they can introduce relevant products and services to them.

One bank that has benefited from CCM is Ping An bank in China. After implementing a customised integrated billing management system, the bank is now able to import data in different formats from multiple sources to produce documents across multiple channels including paper, online, SMS/MMS, and fax. The system also allows the bank to provide personalised promotions through dynamic documents which enable the recipient to interact with the data, reformatting it or drilling deeper to display more information. In addition, the system enabled Ping An to track responses and customer interest in order to fine tune its offerings.

Q: If banks are all moving towards digital banking and services, is there a future for physical branches or banking locations?

Wong: While there is no doubt that digital banking is growing, there will still be a segment of customers that will prefer face-to-face communications from brick and mortar bank branches. These physical banking locations will thus remain to cater to this group of customers.

Keywords: Industry Verticals  
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