In my last post, I talked about why a digital omni-channel customer engagement strategy is important for financial services firms (if you haven’t yet, then read it here). In this post, I’m going to go into those strategies in more detail.

First and foremost, the easiest strategy for mastering customer engagement is to streamline any interaction. This means avoiding having to ask me a question your firm already knows the answer to, and making processes like onboarding as painless as possible. I worked with a firm that had the average account opening process take weeks to complete. WEEKS! All just to get at a client’s assets before doing anything worthwhile for them. But worse, they almost never got it right the first time, and had to go back and forth with their clients to get all the proper documentation in place. I was shocked they were still in the market, but thankfully we were able to quickly turn their situation around with some business process automation and integration of key customer systems.

Second, “outside-in” also means letting customers connect with you on their terms. You need to support a variety of channels, including web, phone, email, Twitter, Facebook, in-person, etc… Anyone should be able to pull the basics of your offerings from any channel, anytime, anywhere. For example, I should be able to visit your website and find out about your investment offering and why you’re better for me than the competition. Digital consumers also expect to engage with you through digital channels as well – so I should be able to ask you a question on Twitter and get a response.

Third, you’ll want to “connect the dots of each interaction” so that you understand my journey. So that if I call your contact centre after tweeting at you, you should know that. You should greet me by name, and already know why I’m calling based on my interactions on any of your channels. We call this journey mapping, which is giving every customer-facing person a clear map of my journey with the company across all channels. Here’s a great example of that… I recently checked out a self-directed online discount brokerage offering on a website, and was prompted for some basic information (which included my telephone number). I had a question, so I called the toll-free number to get a quick answer. It was as if they had never heard of me before – I had to re-introduce myself. From the CSR’s point-of-view, he didn’t know anything about me. But the firm did, and there’s the gap. The CSR should’ve automatically seen that I entered information on the website and known my name and what I had been looking at. I would’ve easily said “yes” if he said “Hello, Bryan. I see you spent some time on our website looking at our online self-directed portfolio product. Did you want me to help you sign-up for one?”

That brings me to the final strategy, which is to direct the journey. Now that you’ve connected the dots, use that information to drive insight-producing analytics. Data scientists are more than happy to show you how you can “predict” the best offer and likeliest path I will take, given my journey so far. So that you can spoon-feed your front-office and call-centre employees with exactly what to pitch and what the next journey point should be. Extend that beyond customer-facing employees and bring that to proactive Twitter, email, and messaging engagement – and you’ll be miles ahead of your competition. So that if you know someone is looking at retirement planning on your website, you have an advisor tweet them about their retirement goals.

In the final installment, I’ll dive into how to implement these strategies – particularly important for my IT readers (or my business readers that need something to point at when they talk about this to their IT counterparts). If you just can’t wait until then, feel free to leave me a note in the comments below or contact me directly for a discussion.