Digital channels are all about sales. If they aren’t, then you’re doing something wrong.
First and foremost, banks are about creating wealth. To do that, banks need to help their customers articulate financial goals and identify financial needs. Once that has been done, banks can provide the products and services to enable customers to achieve those financial goals. This is all about helping customers to live the lives that they want to – and that comes back to selling products to customers.
In the past, the most effective distribution channel banks had to sell products were salespeople in branches. Even today, by and large, banks make most of their sales – and certainly most of their high value sales – through face-to-face interactions in branch. However the world is changing fast.
Today’s consumers are used to a 24/7 retail experience – with late night shopping on the high street, and 24 hour convenience stores. Scheduling banking around 9-5 branch opening hours is not what consumers want to be doing. They, or rather we (!), want to be able to use our digital devices, wherever and whenever we like, in order to get the information that we need in order to find the products that we want. The spotlight is moving onto digital channels as an effective distribution channel for products and services.
As customers migrate from branches, the spotlight is moving onto digital channels as an effective tool for delivering sales. Today’s digital channels are slowly becoming more evolved sales channels. It is usual to see a number of different marketing assets on a webpage. Some will be contextual, some will be personalised. Banks have started using in-site tagging to analyse sales pipelines and tweak sales processes. However there is still a long way to go.
Banks need to use digital channels applications to understand the needs of their customers better. With customers choosing to bypass human interaction by taking their banking online, the opportunity to gain customer insight and anecdotal lead generation is reduced. Digital channel applications will feed the bank with customer intelligence. Personal Financial Management tools or Gamification applications offer banks the opportunity to understand better what their customers are trying to achieve – and offer relevant, tailored products on that basis.
Digital channels must become an essential part of a genuinely multi-channel sales strategy for any bank. And by multi-channel – I don’t mean multiple channels operating in silos, side by side. I mean customer journeys that can pass back and forth between channels – as the customer wants. Customers should be able to start the research process online, create an application and then interact with a salesperson if they wish, be that face-to-face or via a video chat. That salesperson should be able to see the application that the customer has already started. The customer must be able to go back to their digital applications and continue in their channel of choice throughout the rest of purchase.
I believe using video chat to further integrate salespeople into the digital sales process will drive a significant improvement in digital sales – as banks can offer advice, identify other needs and continue to up-sell in the customer’s channel of choice. It’s about creating a process that is convenient and effective for the customer – to ensure that they’re not lost mid-application.
Mobile banking is the least developed of the digital channels for sales. There are many products which could be sold in one touch that would be appropriate for a mobile device – overdrafts and credit cards are obvious examples. In addition, there are a range of native capabilities still to be explored. Location based services can be used to target products at customers in specific locations (for example vouchers based on credit card rewards). Augmented reality could animate adverts or bring product illustrations to life.
Savvy banks will focus on helping customers create wealth. To do this, they need to sell more products and enable customers to achieve their financial goals. Customers want convenience – so that means banks will need to focus on digital channels. Sell, sell, sell!