Are Your Servicing Channels Ready to Compete with Walmart?

Are Your Servicing Channels Ready to Compete with Walmart?

If anything good has come out this pandemic, it might be the resiliency and flexibility that many businesses have shown as traditional methods of selling and servicing became more difficult, or even impossible. Practically overnight, the old ways of doing business with simple face-to-face interactions were gone. Many businesses were forced to implement new ways to interact with their clients, while others saw significant increases in the use of some of these “less personal” ways to conduct business (think call centers, online, and app).

A tip of the hat to these companies that were able to (forced to) change so quickly. I’m sure it was not without its challenges.

The net effect of all this is that many consumers have now been exposed to service delivery channels they would have avoided in the past. As a result this exposure, these consumers are starting to realize that there are more service channels available to them. For example, the individual that used to deposit checks at a teller may have been forced to use an ATM or remote capture via a banking mobile app. Now, they have more options available that they have previously not had experience with. Gone are some of the excuses and rationale people have used in the past – “I can’t be bothered,” “it’s too difficult,” it’s not secure,” “those things don’t work,” etc.

Forbes published an article this morning, How The Health Crisis Has Changed The Digital World Permanently which speaks very well to this shift. While the title leads the reader to believe it is only about healthcare, it really speaks to the entire customer interaction/customer experience ecosystem. While they use healthcare as an example, the idea of “Opti-channel” transcends just healthcare.

An opti-channel approach derives from the idea that not all channels are created equal, and not all channels are necessarily suitable for every interaction. An opti-channel strategy requires businesses to not only find the best channel to reach each type of customer, but to use that channel to its fullest potential in order to maximize engagement at each and every point along that customer’s journey while ensuring continuity of experience and personalization.

The old adage comes to mind – “water seeks its own level.” Customers have now been exposed to new ways of interacting with business across many merchant verticals. Like some of their more tech savvy brethren, a new wave of customers will be choosing the interaction channel that best meets their needs. Sometimes it will be in person, sometimes they will use a call center, sometimes they will go to a physical location, and sometimes they will use an app. They will choose the perceived “path of least resistance.” Businesses have less control of the interaction channel than ever before.

To complicate matters even more. The consumer desire for more channels will not be limited to single merchant vertical. If Walmart offers these servicing option, why can’t my credit card issuer or my other financial institutions?

Overview by Peter Reville, Director, Primary Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group

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