The Retail Design Institute’s 2014 Store of the Year award was presented to a concept for Umpqua bank! Some banking myths were definitely broken here. And some furious brainstorming later, here are some similarities with what’s going on with the Retail battleground as well.
The first realization was that we must question the momentum of the charging herd. For several years we’ve compared the branch experience with the online experience. Were we on the wrong track? Is the branch expected to serve a very different, much more profitable business? For banks the answer is yes, and perhaps for retail, the answer is a resounding positive too. Too much time has been spent on trying to counter the movement of customers from one channel to another. It’s time to help that movement and get on with bigger, better things.
Given that assumption, does it imply that that the concept of Omni-Channel customer experience must be looked at in a slightly different way. Is it really about “Omni-Channel relationships” – with the data, transactions, people, motivations and history stored in a central place for “multiple stakeholders” to contextually access? Does a customer really need a persistent shopping cart, or should their underlying need come across more clearly instead?
That brings us to the question of partnerships. In a store like that, who else needs to be involved? Should banks engage wealth, retirement and business advisors, and should the retail stores engage fitness, entertainment and lifestyle experts? It seems very much so because I think the best customer experience in this context is truly about making dreams come true, nothing more and nothing less. The new store (bank or otherwise) is helping to meet your goals, whether they are to make the best birthday cake for your 6 year old, or figure out where to best keep the savings for your retirement.
If you’ve had the grit to be with me so far, here’s the kicker! What happens to efficiency and self-service? We should just let our customers go online for that, and very gladly make it happen for them. Match prices, expedite shipping, take alternate payment types – suddenly all of that is commodity and low value anyway.
And finally, by being the relationship owners, we implicitly direct the transactions. Can we take unfair advantage of that? Of course! However it is apparent that trust and sincerity are obvious prerequisites to build this new model. Moreover, if we lose the relationship in this new model, a commoditized promotion isn’t going to get someone back.
In this new order of things, the most dazzling innovation is to create transactions from new experiences. That’s a complete about turn from trying to create experiences from transactions. So, slow down, break away from the herd, and invest in the real consumer – the consumer behind the one that’s clicking on your website and or walking through your store.