A Bruce Springsteen song from 1992 has a secret message for today’s banks

Financial services firms want to offer all things to all people — and IDC says that may be just the problem

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Omni-channel banking overload

Who knew technology analysts were such a musical bunch?

In a blog last summer, Gartner’s Heidi Wachs wrote that Blurred Lines is the perfect theme song for the tricky task of managing personal and corporate content on enterprise mobile devices.

During a recent webinar on tech trends in the finance sector, IDC’s Marc DeCastro referenced the Springsteen classic 57 Channels and Nothin’ On. In his 1992 song, The Boss lamented that having more TV channels doesn’t necessarily mean there’s better content to watch.

How does this relate to banks?  Like the cable TV providers of yesteryear, many banks are still trying to be all things to all people, said DeCastro, research director at IDC Financial Insights. They do this by continuing to offer up a smorgasbord of service channels to customers: branch, ATM, online, call centre and mobile.

This has created what DeCastro calls “channel overload.” Like Springsteen, he warns of the dangers in providing people with too many channel choices. If they don’t like what’s on many of your channels, they might switch off all of them – or switch to another provider. As Springsteen wrote in his lyrics:

I can see by your eyes, friend, 

You’re just about gone. 

There’s 57 channels and nothin’ on.

This ‘more is more’ approach is a holdover from the days of banking when “IT drove the business units, which in turn dictated to the end users and customers what they wanted,” said DeCastro.

But those days are over. “Customers are now dictating what they want and are using their non-banking experiences to set the stage,” said DeCastro. “The customer is demanding access to solutions that can be run on the platform of their choice — any time, any place and on any device.”

How can banks adjust to these new demands with a more strategic omni-channel banking strategy? DeCastro outlined some key steps:

Change their mindset: “It’s about the individual or the consumer. It’s no longer about the product or the service,” said DeCastro.

Harness big data and analytics: Use these tools to assess each individual’s channel preferences, cater to them in a targeted way and predict their future needs. This builds a strong relationship with each customer that can foster loyalty, create operational efficiencies, save costs and drive profitability over time. Says DeCastro: “Focus on the profitability of the customer, not the profitability of the product line.”

Look outside: “IT is rapidly losing control and should be using less time building platforms (internally) to support each business unit and focus more on an individualized solution,” said DeCastro. That includes acquiring third-party solutions that, thanks to cloud, have become cheaper to deploy, he added.

Embrace the “third platform”: DeCastro defines the third platform as the culmination of mobile, social, big data, analytics and cloud solutions to deliver customer service in the most targeted, efficient, cost-effective way possible.

Forgive me for the Billy Joel reference, but instead of herding all customers toward multiple channels, perhaps banks should sing just one tune to each of us: I Love You Just the Way You Are.


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