Experts Blog

The customer experience beyond channels and organisational structures: trend barometer for the financial services industry

  • Nicole Buri

Relationships between customers and financial service providers develop beyond channels. Throughout the entire life cycle, the customer interacts with banks and insurance companies through a wide variety of physical and digital points of contact.

A continuous customer journey that connects the offline and digital worlds is therefore an increasingly important factor for success in the financial services industry. There is a growing shift towards orchestration of different channels (branches/agencies, web, native apps). CEO of Citigroup, Michael L. Corbat, explains the challenge facing banks: “We allow people to be the architects of the information they’d like to receive, and when they’d like to receive it.” [1]

A trend survey [2] conducted by Unic in June 2015 revealed that the financial service providers who took part are well aware of the current paradigm shift and have already begun to enable customers to swap seamlessly between channels (without media disruption). Only a few companies still mostly manage their online and offline channels separately. The majority of respondents have integrated their online and offline channels to facilitate a multichannel customer journey – with the exception of processes that must still be carried out in person. However only a small number of companies have a shared data pool for the various channels.

To design a multichannel customer journey, new roles need to be created that are independent of individual channels, departments and functions. Such employees would focus on the customer (customer centricity) and ensure the provision of a consistent brand experience (experience management). Almost all respondents have identified the need for such roles for the digital transformation of their companies. Most of the companies surveyed have already begun defining these roles or establishing them within their organisations.

To what extent have you established roles in your organisation to focus on the customer journey and experience management?

Figure: Establishment of new roles within the organisation

The biggest challenges involved with the creation of a comprehensive, multichannel customer journey are related to the processes and the development of a comprehensive data pool. The value creation processes must be lean and industrialised and subsequently reproduced in the digital realm as well. Structuring and standardising customer service, which involves a great deal of personal consultation, will be particularly tricky.

Data relating to each customer is often distributed across different systems. This data needs to be aggregated so that the customer can access the same information in every channel – in the branch or digitally – and the company can analyse and manage the entire customer journey.

Many financial services companies have already overcome the silo mentality, i.e. organisational divisions between the channels, and in many places the purpose and added value of every channel have been defined.

What kind of challenges do you think the creation of a comprehensive, multichannel customer journey would involve?

Figure: Challenges involved in the creation of a comprehensive customer journey.

The decision-makers who were surveyed have provided an insight into the near and distant future. Their appraisals are consistent. The mobile processing of requests and the provision of tools for analysing and managing personal finances and insurance policies are already state-of-the-art. In the next one to two years, the ability to close contracts online, behavioural targeting and the personalisation of offers will all become increasingly relevant for the financial services industry. Most respondents do not expect new relevant players to enter and revolutionise the market in the next three years.

Figure: Insights into the future


As a financial services company, you need to tackle two central tasks while designing a customer experience beyond channels and organisational structures:

Identify and utilise patterns of behaviour:

You need a multichannel data pool to achieve a 360 degree view of your customers and their needs. You can only take appropriate measures (targeting and personalisation) and offer customers a suitable experience if you know what motivates their actions in certain channels at certain times.

Expand consulting expertise to all channels:

Financial services customers are more informed and independent than ever before. Reproduce your clearly structured consulting expertise online as well and create a multichannel expert experience. Using advanced analytics tools, assessments and needs-based opportunities for contact – e.g. with live chats – you can honour your promises in terms of customer orientation, proximity and consulting expertise.

[1] McKinsey&Company “Citigroup on engaging the digital customer”
[2] About the study: 25 decision-makers from the financial services industry took part in this qualitative study. These thought leaders shared their opinions and ideas with us by completing a structured survey. The survey was conducted in June 2015.
Google+ profile of authors: Matthias Schmid