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When we think of the word “bank,” many of us think of ornate high-ceilinged buildings, tellers, big safes, and old guys in bowler hats. Why? Because back in the day, a bank was a place you went to. Today it’s a thing you do.

Much of dynamism of today’s extremely dynamic banking sector is wrapped up in a larger digital transformation that is impacting industries everywhere. Cloud computing, mobile technology, social media, Big Data analytics, omnichannel communications – the list goes on. Big buildings and bowlers hats are nice – but to keep pace, banks are changing their tune.

Blurred Lines

The problem for traditional banks is that the digital transformation is open to one and all – and that adds up to tremendous competitive pressure. Today, all sorts of institutions are getting into the money game. Think about Paypal, Amazon, and Alibaba out of China. Think about Silicon Valley start-ups like Acorns or lending clubs like Sofort or Sofi.

The simple fact is that much of what we think of as banking today is more or less a technology play. The newcomers know this – and they’re blurring the lines of traditional banking by disintermediating the bigs with direct-to-consumer services.

Stayin’ Alive

The trick to stayin’ alive in this new world of banking is to find ways to engage individual customers wherever they are. This requires omnichannel capabilities so that your customers can bank with you on their computers, mobile devices, or tablets – or by phone or at a branch location. Everybody is on social media. This means you need to be there too, communicating with your customers across many different platforms, marketing your services online, and making it easy for you customers to get to you they way they prefer.

Come Together

And, yes, it all needs to come together to deliver a consistent, real-time, contextual, and relevant experience regardless of channel or device through the customer journey.  Fortunately for SAP customers, we offer a wide range of integrated technologies to support all of these needs.

Let’s say one of your customers is a young family just entering the market for a mortgage on a new home. Their journey starts on a market-leading home portal where they log on using Facebook Connect, which links their offsite profile with your bank. Using open commerce functionality from hybris, an SAP company, you can detect that the family is searching for a home and push out a mortgage calculator web app to the home portal to enrich the customer experience.

The next morning, when the customer uses the ATM, you use the customer engagement intelligence functionality, powered by SAP HANA to deliver a real-time recommendation that’s personalized to the customer using not just hard/explicit data but also soft/implicit data based on omni-channel behavior.

At the end of the week, you send the customer a personalized email inviting the family to a new home-owner’s day. The customer registers and attends.

Baby, Come Back

A few weeks later, it appears to your bank that the customer has lost interest. But in reality, the family is just taking their time, comparing options. One day, the customer visits a news portal. Using the SAP Ad Management application, you place a personalized add on the news site promoting your rates and services. These ads are highly effective – with an average click-through rate of 20%.

The customer clicks through, lands on the bank website, and is guided through a form-based mortgage quotation process. Recognizing the customer, your backend systems fill in all relevant details. The result is a completed form that the customer can print out and sign.

Something to Talk About

Of course, the customer may have something to talk about – given that for most people a mortgage is quite a big commitment. Fortunately, you have a built-in video chat component for assisted selling – with all relevant customer information instantaneously provided to the online agent. Alternatively, the customer can quickly book an appointment with a mortgage expert at the nearest branch and receive an email confirmation.

Keep on Movin’

In the end, the customer signs on for a mortgage with your bank. The upshot is a happy customer in a new home who feels well-served by your bank. But, of course, this is only the beginning. With leading-edge solutions and tools, you can keep on movin’ with this customer, building a relationship that can last years.

In upcoming blogs in this series, I’ll spend more time providing details of the precise solutions that SAP offers to help banks connect with and serve their customers better in an omnichannel world. Stay tuned.