An Overview of Multi-Channel Banking

Banking Turns Increasingly Digital

It is not an exaggeration to say that digital consumers are like no other. They belong to a generation that is more educated, more technology savvy and better connected socially than any other that came before. If they need information, they will research it on the Internet; if they want advice about a particular purchase, they will ask their social network. Their demands fuel innovation in the technology and communications space, giving rise to new, better products that they can’t get enough of. They seek convenience, reach, availability and instant gratification.

These expectations have split over to their banking activities too. Now, digital consumers want their banks to acknowledge these needs and fulfill them, just like other retail businesses are doing. Banks are responding by delivering their services over a range of digital channels including the mobile and the Internet.

Digitization in Africa and the Middle East

Today, digitization is a worldwide phenomenon. The following data indicates how it has pervaded banking in this part of the world.

Banks in Africa and the Middle East record the highest number of average monthly ATM cash withdrawals. In 2009, this figure was 3,914 compared to 1,631 in North America, 2,797 in Western Europe and 2,789 in the Asia Pacific region.

In the Middle East, Internet penetration is 33.5% which is 3.3% of the world’s Internet penetration. Mobile penetration in the UAE is already in excess of 200% and broadband penetration is expected to reach 100% by 2012. On the African continent, mobile adoption has crossed 50% in 26 nations; South Africa achieved twice that number at the end of last year. As a natural progression, this region will surely see high rates of adoption of these media as banking channels in the Middle East and African regions.

What is Multi-channel Banking?

With the availability of alternative modes of banking, consumers started to use more than one channel. They went to the ATM to withdraw cash and enquire about their account balance. Then they started to use Internet banking, first to monitor their accounts, and then to make payments and transfer funds. At the same time, they also made visits to the branch. This was the time when consumers “banked on multiple channels”.

The drawback of this kind of banking was that each channel was isolated from the other. Data generated on one was not visible on another, which meant that if a consumer initiated a transaction at the call center, but resumed it at a branch, he would have to explain the entire situation all over again to the staff. Banks too lost the opportunity to render efficient service or cross-sell, to these channel siloes.

With the integration of channels on a single platform, multi-channel banking became reality. Today, banking is integrated across devices, channels, products, and functions to provide seamless experience to customers across all touch points. Accordingly, banks have a 360-degree view of customer activity on every channel at any point of time. Customers enjoy similar visibility, and are also able to seamlessly transition from one channel to another, even during the course of a single transaction.

What Multi-channel Banking brings to Banks

A recent report by a research firm indicates that although branch investment still tops the list of a bank’s spending, investment in other channels like Internet and mobile banking is on the increase. In Middle East and Africa, spending on online banking channels is expected to touch US$ 50 million in 2012.

Banks stand to gain substantial benefits by investing in integrated multi-channel banking.

• Cost reduction

Multi-channel banking helps banks optimize operating costs and resources. For instance, branch staff engaged in routine operations such as cash disbursement may be deployed in other, more critical functions. With fewer customers walking in, branches can be smaller, and more cost effective to establish and maintain. Channel integration reduces data duplication. Overall, it is estimated that the cost of serving a customer or transaction through Internet and mobile banking is a fraction of that incurred at a branch.

• Customer satisfaction

Seamless multi-channel banking makes banking convenient for customers as it allows them to transact from anywhere, at any time. Since transactions and data are updated in real time, customers have access to the latest information irrespective of the channel. Integration also provides customers a single view of all the accounts held by them at the same bank. These facilities improve customer satisfaction and with time, loyalty.

• Customer acquisition

Banks with an advanced multi-channel banking system can attract customers of other banks, which are lagging in channel integration. They can also use channels – such as mobile banking – to make in roads into markets where they have insufficient branch presence.

• Revenue enhancement

By providing a unified view of customers and enabling tracking of their channel usage, integrated multi-channel banking improves banks’ cross-selling efficiency to bring them more business from existing customers. By reducing cost per transaction as mentioned earlier, and improving sales, multi-channel banking can make a reasonable impact on banks’ top and bottom lines.

The Profile of an Ideal Multi-channel Banking System

A multi-channel banking system should be simple, convenient, affordable and anytime anywhere accessible, providing a unified view of customer’s banking relationships for customers as well as for relationship managers. True multi-channel banking extends beyond the provision of banking access over multiple channels, to add value through:

• Superior user experience

Seamless customer experience is the essence of multi-channel banking. A customer should be able to use a bank’s service on any of its channels. Also, having initiated a transaction, he should be able to continue it on another channel without obstruction. For instance, if he receives an offer about a new high interest deposit on SMS, he should be able to buy into it using his mobile, but send all the supporting documentation via the Internet banking channel.

• Personalized banking

Today’s consumer has a strong sense of uniqueness that he would like service providers to acknowledge with personalized products and services. He desires personalized banking facilities that enable him to set reminders, quickly access links and”favorite activities”, and choose the channels on which the bank must send alerts or initiate contact. Not only that, he may also want to personalize each channel separately. Multi-channel banking must be able to fulfill all these expectations.

• Interactivity

While customers are happy to conduct routine transactions on self-service channels, they invariably seek human assistance when faced with a problem. If ready help is not available at that time, they may give up the channel altogether. Banks can prevent this eventuality by making help available to customers on every channel, at the touch of a button. This can be achieved with a text chat facility – already provided by many – or an audio/video help service, or even co-browsing, whereby a customer care representative can remotely see the customer’s desktop and walk him through the solution. What’s more, using social media, banks can not only make these situations more interactive but also enable a customer to seek assistance from other customers who have had similar issues.

Asian TV Channels Available In The USA

Asian TV channels now available in the United States can enhance the viewing pleasure of many Asian Americans. Keeping up with events in their homeland is as easy as turning on the tv. There are a lot of channels available now from Directv and Dish Network. So for those who are not aware of them, we have Korean and Vietnamese channels. They are listed below.

DirecTV Korean

CTS is a premium network which brings to you 24 hours of Korean Christian programming, including sermons, testimonies, praise and worship, documentaries and news.

MBC One of the most watched channels, MBC is a 24 hour Korean broadcast network. Catch some of the most popular children’s programs, latest news and drama everyday.

SBS Stay in touch with what’s happening in Korea through this 24 hour channel with latest information, variety shows, and hit dramas.

SBS Plus Catch the best of Korean “Halliyu” with popular drama, movie programs, and other original programs – 24 hours a day.

YTN Korea’s first round-the-clock news network.

Directv Vietnamese

SBTN Saigon Broadcasting Television Network is the first 24-hour Vietnamese programming network in America which broadcasts a great mix of news, sports, variety, movies, talk shows, children’s programming and more – all in Vietnamese.

TVB Vietnam Catch up on the best TVB dramas and telemovies from past and present dubbed in Vietnamese including themes such as martial arts, costumes, episodic, modern action and situation comedy.

VHN–TV A visual treat for those of you who want to get acquainted with the Vietnamese customs and traditions, this channel believes in creating awareness and education. Features news, drama, education, public service, comedy (traditional and contemporary), entertainment and variety programs.

Dish Network Korean

ARIRANG TV broadcast live from Korea 24-hours-a-day, Arirang TV showcases entertaining and informative programs for viewers of every age and background. Programming includes Korea’s latest box office releases, news, sitcoms, dramas, quiz shows, financial updates, music, documentaries and current affairs programs.

BTN is a 24-hour Korean-language Buddhist channel. BTN’s programming includes Buddhist news, ceremony, priesthood, worship, mass, world temple tour, vegetarian cooking, meditation, yoga, missions and much more from Korea.

JSTV is the #1 rated 24-hour-a-day Korean-language Christian channel in North America. JSTV’s programming includes Christian related news, business, music, bible studies, gospels, worship services and much more. JSTV will also broadcast locally produced programs and programming from the Korean broadcasting channel commonly referred to as CBS.

KBS WORLD, a Korean-language channel with English subtitles, is a general entertainment channel which is the oldest and most popular broadcasting station in Korea. Programming includes the most watched news, sitcoms, dramas, documentaries and current affair programs.

ONGAMENET is a top-rated 24-hour Korean-language gaming channel. Ongamenet’s programming includes gaming industry news, video games, pro-gamer league, competitions and other game-oriented programming straight from Korea.

WOW-TV is a 24-hour-a-day Korean-language business news channel broadcast from Korea. WOW-TV’s programming includes economic updates, the latest stock market information, real estate, e-business, news and much more.

So there you have it, 14 different channels. Entertainment for the whole family, young and old alike. Instead of seeing a five minute clip of news from the Asia, watch indepth coverage of the same event. It’s like bringing your homeland in to your livingroom.

How Contact Centers Can Best Serve Customers in the Asia Pacific Region

If you or your clients are planning to expand into China or other growth markets in the Asia Pacific region, there are a number of issues to consider when offering contact center services.

The first of these is that of language. If you would like to cover all of China, agents should be able to communicate in both Mandarin and Cantonese. If you plan to reach out to the region as a whole, you should include Filipino, Thai, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese and both Malaysian and Indonesian Bahasa too.

Second, it is important that customers can call in by means of a domestic regional telephone number. Making an international phone call remains a psychological and economical barrier not only in emerging markets, but in established ones like the United States too.

Next, consider the communications channels available to you.

Like us in the West, the Chinese are voracious consumers of social media. But Twitter and Facebook are irrelevant in China, whereas Sina /Tencent Weibo, Renren, Qzone and WeChat are not.

Of these, WeChat is fast becoming defacto the standard way to communicate in China, and already boasts a user base of 600m and growing. Furthermore, Its number of international users is also growing exponentially, so a WeChat Channel should be integrated into any contact center activity.

Whilst the concept of the virtual office is nothing new, for western companies looking to expand into China the benefits of a virtual office versus the costs and risks associated with establishing a real one are particularly attractive, and they instantly help bridge the cultural and linguistic challenges associated with overseas expansion.

Those involved in the contact center industry probably already have clients that are using their services as part of their globalization efforts. Rarely do such companies wish to focus on just one market. By offering multi-lingual voice and data solutions, or by teaming up with a company that does, you will be able to add value and help clients grow and prosper internationally.

Doing so will help customers grow domestically too. After all, there are over one million Chinese speakers in the UK and more than two million in the USA.

Mindful of the fact that the vast majority of the Chinese population worldwide cannot read or speak English, those companies that interact with them in their own native language stand a much better chance of benefiting from the enormous opportunities afforded by the Chinese market than those that do not.

Finally, when working with your clients with regards to promoting any new engagement channel, it is best to engage in the services of a native speaker for translating purposes, since automated translation tools can sometimes do more harm than good.

According to the IMF, China is now the World’s largest economy, with the US relegated to second place. Therefore North American, Australasian and European contact centers that look eastwards will be able to add value for their customers both now and in years to come.

In his bestselling book ‘The World is Flat’, Thomas Friedman describes it as a level playing field in terms of commerce, where all competitors have an equal opportunity.

That metaphor is particular apt for those involved in the contact center space.