Making omnichannel work: The “to do” list for banks

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September 2015

Five obstacles banks face when delivering an omnichannel experience

Whenever consumers board a flight with a scannable code on their phone or check inventory at a store kiosk, they're reminded that physical and digital touchpoints can work together. They expect the same experience from their banks.

However, even leading banks are still trying to work out how best to make omnichannel work. We’ve identified the five biggest obstacles:

Obstacle 1: Organizational and operational silos. For many banks, branches are still primarily for selling, call centers are mainly for servicing and digital means marketing. And while some financial institutions have moved in the right direction, combining call centers with virtual channels, operational processes and technology haven’t caught up. In many cases, staff and systems are still primarily set up to serve in a single stream. But consumers have moved far beyond this model.

Obstacle 2: Product-centric (instead of customer-centric) cultures. Most banks are organized around products: product teams define and package specific capabilities, and then channels figure out the best ways to sell them. But customers don’t think in terms of products, or even channels. Customer segments have to be based on behaviors. And according to PwC’s Banking 2020 Survey, while 61% of bank executives say that a customer-centric model is “very important,” only 17% feel “very prepared.”


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PwC's David Schiff and Dean Nicolacakis explain omnichannel challenges and what are the solutions.

To learn more, download our report Making omnichannel work: The “to do” list for banks

Obstacle 3: Customer advocates either don’t exist, or they have no power. Most banks are reluctant to give their customer segment owners P&L ownership because it may introduce massive complexity into the organization. But we think segment owners must have a seat at the table.

Obstacle 4: Immature “customer listening” skills. At most banks, product owners design and branches sell. Bankers who aren't trained to sell and aren’t paid to do so are rarely effective at determining and delivering on current and latent customer needs.

Obstacle 5: Cumbersome product development processes. For many years, banks have been rewarded for being followers, and their product teams have followed suit. They lack the skills and inclination to iterate quickly. Today, with customers demanding better personalization at lower cost, banks have to manage many more variables, and they need to respond quickly as circumstances change and new information emerges.

What do we recommend?

Omnichannel shouldn’t be treated like a bolt-on capability. It calls for new ways of thinking that go beyond typical organization boundaries. Banks will have to break down the walls between functions, abandon their product-centric business models and change their assumptions about how channels work. They'll need to go beyond a consultative approach to business. And they'll need to adopt a test-and-learn approach to stay ahead of the competition.

To get started, banks will have to take steps to rethink and reorganize across all of these areas:

  • Channels
  • Customer experience
  • Product
  • Marketing and sales
  • Technology and analytics

In this paper, we take a deeper look into each of these areas.

Some banks will find this particularly costly or complicated to do, and many of the issues go to the heart of a company’s culture. However, we feel the benefits of omnichannel banking—less operational complexity, happier employees, positive impact on risk, regulatory and compliance functions and most of all, stronger customer engagement—are worth the effort needed to implement it.

To continue reading, please download the full article.

Contact us

Dean Nicolacakis

Partner, Digital Banking and FinTech, PwC US

Tel: +1 (415) 498 7075

David Schiff

Principal, FS Digital and Customer-Driven Transformations, PwC US

Tel: +1 (213) 356 6921

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