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It’s Tax Time 2015 — Do you know every channel your customers want to use?

I wrote a couple of pieces recently about the strategic value of an effective omnichannel platform, and the danger of confusing simple mobile access with seamless omnichannel capabilities that bring cell phone access into better coordination with branch, call center, internet and ATM channels. Working as closely as I do with major banks, both as a vendor and as a customer, I thought I had all the angles covered in my laundry list, right up until I started to try to do my 2014 taxes.

My tax preparation is, for the most part, pretty straightforward. I have a W-2 from SAP, and a relatively small collection of mortgage, credit card, checking, savings and loan account statements to go with it. (Did you know the average American has almost 2 dozen financial products from over a dozen institutions? I’m glad to be on the low side every time I have to tell the IRS all about it). The fun started last year when I had to try to find that one last charitable donation I had made, and then frustratingly discovered that it was via an account I hadn’t been able to download into my personal finance software. (I use Quicken, but there are plenty of other creditable options out there). 2014 will be the last tax year I need to worry about that, because I closed that account soon afterwards because it just didn’t make sense as a customer to have to constantly work to find my bank’s preferred access channel. I want my bank to find MY preferred access channel—or, more accurately, be there for me no matter which access channel will be useful at any given moment.

2015’s revelation is that certain brands of personal tax reporting software (I use TurboTax, but, like personal finance software, there are plenty of other creditable options out there) now enables direct downloading of brokerage and other tax reporting forms from selected institutions directly into the tax preparation routines for both accuracy and convenience. You can bet I noted that several of my outfits weren’t yet in on that part of the game. I wonder how long it’s going to be before I end up closing one of them in favor of a more convenient option?

Omnichannel access already makes a difference to many of your best customers. There’s very little way to predict which particular access channel is going to be the one to either lock in their loyalty, or drive them to one of your competitors, but it’s pretty easy to bet that, sooner or later, it’s going to be one of them. Who walks to the branch anymore to make a balance inquiry? Who wants to trust an oversimplified web page with a complex question about personal loan options or alternate terms? Where will your high-net-worth customers want to engage with you for advice next? An omnichannel platform gives fresh appeal to the kinds of customers you most want to acquire and keep.

Take a look at how ATB in Alberta, Canada, is building their platform for the future. Then have a read through this piece describing 6 ways to wring more value out of omnichannel banking. Give it some thought while you’re wrestling with your yearly tax preparation as well as your daily personal finances. Think about the kinds of banks that you’re doing business with, and why. And then realize everyone else is thinking about it, too. Will you be where your customers want to find

Interested to learn more from ATB and other first-movers? Check out the Agenda Builder for SAPPHIRE Now. ATB is hosting an ASUG session to explore how they’ve been upgrading their internal systems with zero downtime. (Session BT1537). I’ll see you there!

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