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Here’s a piece of the next normal coming. Successful competitors are embracing “Omni-channel.”

I first saw the term a little over a decade ago in financial services. Banks and credit unions expanded their “channels” to users dramatically over the past four decades. With competitive pressure they dumped “bankers hours” and offered alternatives to real-time, face-to-face interaction with human tellers standing behind a high counter.

The ATM, call centers, online banking, mobile banking, video kiosks, mobile video, and even banking by interacting with a holographic “universal banker” – an expert in many aspects of banking followed. The photo is of Heather – an employee of America First Credit Union in Utah that I took from their Innovation Center a few years ago.

Heather Hologram Smaller

Heather was physically located 80 miles from downtown Salt Lake City where I sat in a booth at the credit union’s Innovation Center. She wasn’t real. She was a human-sized, full-color hologram. It was the electronic equivalent of a branch visit. Practical? Hmmm. Technologically impressive? Absolutely. Applicable? Didn’t we prove it in 2020? Yes. A “nice-to-have.”

What’s this all about? Creating multiple “touchpoints” and methods for interacting with clients and customers. What’s the reaction from the consumer? “Thanks. I’ll take that too.” Consumers don’t want to use all the channels but they like the feeling that they could.

It’s not just financial institutions. It’s becoming “omni-present.” Here are some examples I offered to an economic development client.

Omnichannel Treadway

These are physical examples but the service realm is adopting the same techniques. Look at how Peloton has expanded offerings beyond the bike to other machines and exercise formats and how NordicTrak has jumped into the arena to go head-to-head.

In media, NBC Universal is using the term omnichannel. A recent press release from the new Chairman Cesar Conde states that the brand MSNBC is no longer about just television but a wider range of "channels" to consumers.

Have you thought through the opportunities to move, experiment, or at least think about your organization in this new realm?

Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash
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