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Multichannel communication - The rules of the game for communication with customers in the competitive financial market have changed

by: Dalia Robinson, Director of the Financial Solutions and Technology Division, Matrix

The changes that have taken place in recent years in the banking and insurance sectors, the capital market and the financial industry in general have changed our perceptions - the capital market has been dealt a new hand, and the rules of the game have changed. These changes have also influenced the activities of the banks, insurance companies and investment houses, and their products as well. Various organizations have entered new fields of activity and dropped other fields and related products. Mergers of financial organizations have changed (and will continue to change) the balance of power in the capital market. They have created confusion and given rise to questions such as: Who is whose client? Who is actually the consumer? Who is an agent and what is his/her role? Who is a consultant and what can and can't they do? Who is a manufacturer? Who audits the processes? And so it goes.

Channels of communication with customers - the main lever for product marketing and customer retention
Financial organizations are now in a situation when they have to establish new relationships with their existing clients and attract new clients. This means that they have to expand the information and databases they manage on both existing and potential clients to optimally tailor the products they offer to the nature and needs of their clients. Companies operating in the financial industry must therefore adapt to the changing reality and leverage the situation to their benefit. One of the main tools for getting a handle on the new situation is technology. With competition increasing, new players are entering the market and products are becoming ever more complex, and as a result, the channels of communication with customers are rapidly becoming the main lever for marketing, sales, client retention, competition for new clients and compliance with regulatory requirements.

Eve likes to go to the branch, but Karen calls on her iPhone and Facebook
To successfully promote the multichannel approach, the organization needs to examine the options for implementing advanced approaches to issues such as CRM, service and sales centers, Internet, mobile applications, computerization of branches and the like, because today you can't maintain your relationship with clients simply by talking to them on the phone or talking to them when they come into the branch. An organization that wants to keep its existing clients satisfied and attract new customers must expand its perception of channels and gain better understanding of how the different types of clients want to communicate: Eve, 66 from Tel Aviv, would most likely prefer to go to the bank or talk to the banker on the phone; Udi from Ashdod, who's 35, prefers communicating with the organization over the Internet and to view his balance on his cell phone. However, the organization should talk to Karen, 20 from Karmiel, on Facebook, Twitter or her iPhone application.

Management of a variety of communications channels with customers is an advanced business approach to simultaneously managing the organization's dialogue with its diverse target audiences at the same time. It requires a complete picture of the organization's channel strategy. The objective of this approach is to maximize the organization's relationship with its clients and the benefit it derives from the relationship. It is also designed to make the various tools it uses to respond to the preferences of each individual in its diverse target audiences more sophisticated, allowing every client, agent or consultant to communicate with the organization over the Internet, by e-mail, information kiosk, IVR (Interactive Voice Response), call center, branches, cell phones and the like.

An organization that wants to implement this business approach would do well to hire a consultant/integrator that has both in-depth understanding and significant experience in the financial sector and in-depth knowledge with the technological solutions from Israel and around the world. With the help of best practices, tools and infrastructures for multichannel solutions, it is possible to get a comprehensive solution, made up of several applications that work synergetically and support implementation of the multichannel approach.

The exact combination of channels is achieved through the following principles:

  • Consistency - clients receive identical service/information on all channels, with the exception of intentional and overt decisions that give business preference to a specific channel (for example, a discount on fees or benefit for using a certain channel).
  • Continuity - clients may begin a process on one channel and continue it on another (for example, order a service on the Internet and check order status with the call center).
  • Channel suitability - each service will be received on the relevant channel, such that it reflects the characteristics of the channel (not all services are accessible over every channel).
  • Channel policy - policy that supports integration and promotion of online channels. This includes business benefits for services over the Internet, use of other channels (call center etc.) to encourage use of the Internet, for example.

A bit about the experience Matrix has implementing a multichannel approach in the financial sector in Israel

Leumi Digital, the e-banking website of the Leumi Group
With the help of Matrix, the Leumi Group recently completed one of the biggest and most innovative Internet projects in Israel: Completely revamping Leumi's e-banking system to allow clients to receive financial information and perform a wide variety of banking operations over the Internet. Since the completion of all of the Bank's websites, hundreds of thousands of Leumi Group clients benefit from the revamped sites that offer a highly diverse range of options to receive information and perform banking operations through an accessible and user-friendly interface. Leumi's e-banking system is part of its Leumi Digital philosophy, according to which clients can receive information and perform operations easily and quickly through a variety of direct and advanced channels: Internet, phone, self-service terminals, cellular phone, e-mail and more. Leumi Group's new Internet system hails a revolution in terms of the user interface. It is user friendly for all clients and easy to use. Leumi's new Internet system was created over Fiserv's Voyager online banking system infrastructure, which is represented in Israel by Matrix.

Mizrahi-Tefahot LIVE - Mizrahi-Tefahot's approach to direct banking
At the end of 2008, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank launched its new system that combines direct banking and traditional branch banking under the name Mizrahi-Tefahot LIVE. It is a virtual branch, with a permanent staff of bankers that enables clients to work with a personal banker. Clients can access the branch through all channels of communication, including e-mail and text messages, from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M., and on Fridays until 1:00 P.M. Matrix and iTeam, Mizrahi Tefahot Bank's IT organization, worked on developing the website and implementing the channel philosophy. LIVE branches work like traditional branches, with a manager and a permanent staff of bankers. However, unlike traditional branches, the LIVE team provides remote service, by not only phone and fax like a regular branch, but also via video chat, e-mail and text messaging. For the first time in time in the banking system, Mizrahi Tefahot allows clients to send text messages of free text to the bank and to correspond with the banker via e-mail over the bank's website. ​