By adaptive - July 6th, 2015

The traditional banking model has evolved over the past two decades, but now the rate of change is moving even faster. Fewer people are visiting banks in person and talking to a teller. Most consumers now use online and mobile to check balances, send money, or even pay with checks.

This means that banks need to offer a variety of products from all channels to reach out to new and existing customers. That means banks must change their business models to meet customers where they are—and the channels they are using, or want to use.
Brett Pitts, executive vice president and head of digital, Wells Fargo Virtual Channels, discussed with Open Mobile Media’s Robert Gray just how the bank plans to achieve omnichannel through mobile.

OMM: Can you explain, in your own words, your role at Wells Fargo? And what the group does within this large financial institution?
Pitts: My team and I help to enhance our customers’ digital banking experiences. This includes product development, platform management, experience design, and implementation planning across Wells Fargo’s digital properties – mobile, web, social, multi-channel and lab innovations – for consumer, small business, and wealth customers.

OMM: How does a 150-year-old bank such as Wells Fargo keep up with the young tech companies of today?

Pitts: As the first major financial institution to offer internet banking in 1995, Wells Fargo has a proud history of pioneering in the digital world. It’s not about innovation for innovation’s sake, but innovation with a purpose and a deliberate focus on bringing value to customers. From online banking to mobile banking to embarking on new payment options for customers, WF provides customers with choice and convenience through the introduction of these new innovations.

OMM: What are the major challenges facing you when trying to implement an omnichannel approach?
Pitts: We want to make sure the customer experience is seamless, and we want to make sure we’re able to host that experience in a safe and secure environment. Customer privacy and security is always at the forefront of everything we do in the mobile environment. We’re also operating in a highly regulated industry, which adds complexity to our development process. We’ve made some great strides in the last few years, and we’re excited about the future.

OMM: How important is mobile in this approach?
Pitts: Mobile continues to be critically important, and it’s become the primary way in which millions of our customers interact with us daily. We’ve surpassed 14 million active mobile customers, and we’ve seen increased transaction growth as people use mobile devices to interact with Wells Fargo 20 or more times per month.
We also know that many of our customers like to begin interactions with us in a self-service mode like mobile, but may want to shift into assisted or full-service experiences for more complex needs. We’ve enabled features like “click for care,” so when a customer says, “I want help” from their mobile device, they’ll be passed into the phone experience, fully authenticated. It’s a much better and more seamless experience, and that’s our goal: to bring channels together so it’s easier and feels more seamless for our customers.

OMM: What do you see as the driving factors behind moving towards omnichannel?
Pitts: Our innovation strategy and multi-channel approach are driven by trends in customer usage. We see our customers using all of our channels – everything from mobile to phone to stores to ATMs – to manage their finances. In fact, more than 75 percent of our deposit customers interacted with a banker or teller at least once within a recent six-month period. Customers value choice in how they can interact with us, and we need to be where they are.

OMM: What are the benefits of omnichannel?
Pitts: Offering customers a mix of interconnected channels is the way that we can truly be their bank of choice. We have learned that the more channels our customers use, like retail stores, ATMs, online and mobile, or phone banking, combined with using more transaction types, leads to more value for the customer and generates better business outcomes. On average, they have six more products with us per household.

OMM: What do you see as the next important channel for banks and why?
Pitts: We want to be where our customers are, so we’re always monitoring their trends and usage. We’re paying close attention to the proliferation of different devices and wearables, and alternative forms of data like voice recognition. We’re also looking to reimagine customer interactions, use new forms of data input to complete financial tasks, leverage mobile wallets and rewards, and explore the possibilities around the Internet of Things, among other advances.

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