Omnichannel, this revolution will change the way we work for the customer

This new concept leads to the integration of channels and boosts the creation of a single database, updated and distributed.

23 May 2016

Fabio Pittana, COO di BNP Paribas Cardif

For years, banks and insurance carriers have engaged in multi-channel projects introducing gradually and increasingly contact and interaction channels with customers: call centers, web, mobile, etc.

Today this seems outdated, blown away by a new concept that will force us to revolve the way we work and design customer experience: the omnichannel.

The huge difference is in the wording: “multi” means substantially more than two channels each able to provide a different user experience, while “omni” stands for all possible channels, designing the same identical experience for the customers, regardless of the channel used.

The high standard of focusing on multichannel led to the creation and uncovering of an issue: the lack of common databases and the risk of departmental databases misalignment.

So far, the orientation was towards subsequent alignments of the different database (data collection centers) that supplied and, in turn, was supplied by the different channels. Not always the base was a refined architecture, and often it was necessary to obviate with batch alignment.

Track down the origin of the term Batch is useful to better understand the situation. Batch is a typical word of the period of programming for punch cards, when programmers had no direct access to the computer, writing off-line programs and giving them to a sysadmin that run them as soon as possible, delivering the processing results at a later time. There was no internal network and therefore operators and mainframe worked “asynchronously”.

multichannel is in some way such a situation, with lots of people who regularly had to exchange and update data making “batch processing”, with the risk of duplicate operations and the need for crosschecking among the different channels.

Omnichannel is a revolutionary concept since, pushing the real integration of all the channels used, encourages the creation of a single database, constantly updated, delivered wherever needed, whether it is a call center, a mobile device or any other interfaces. In doing so the logic is reversed: no longer have to align the channels, but it is the center that collects and provides access to real-time information. This allows the customer to choose the time, the manner and the access device, creating better customer experience, unique, transparent and pervasive, offering a better service level.

Today, to avoid being “dismissed” by the customer, this must be the end point, the goal to work for, also overcoming internal resistance, not only technological. It must be overcome the difficulty of standardization of the various databases but there is also a historical controversy on the “ownership” of the customer, never fully closed, that the omnichannel opens again with a simple question: who owns the database? The answer, whatever it will be, cannot be a disempowering to achieve the strategic objective: to offer an outstanding service, with constantly updated information. This is the customer demand, which will continue to grow and with 4G it becomes possible even in mobility.

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