What Is Omnichannel Banking and How Can It Help Your Business?

Digital transformation in banking is charging forward. Yet many banks have yet to make the transition from multichannel to omnichannel banking. Here's why it's a smart move.

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In recent years, financial leaders and customers alike have come to value digital solutions like online deposits, mobile banking, and e-bill payment options. In 2022, it's predicted that 200 million Americans (77.2% of the population) will use digital banking, according to Insider Intelligence. By 2025, that's expected to top 80.4%.

But as the industry undergoes massive digital disruption, many banks have yet to make the transition from multichannel to omnichannel banking, especially when it comes to their contact centers. Some may even be wondering what is omnichannel banking?

For customer communication and service, most organizations are still finding their footing or are relying on ineffective traditional systems. While promotional campaigns can certainly generate new customer accounts, maintaining and nurturing long-term relationships means enhancing the customer experience with every engagement. Here's where flexible, scalable, and customer-friendly omnichannel solutions come into play — and why improving customer experience by using a cloud contact center is a critical component of successful omnichannel banking.

What Is Omnichannel Banking?

Omnichannel banking is all about integration — giving customers a variety of service and support channels and the ability to switch seamlessly between them.

In 2021, consumers increasingly reached out to financial service providers across several different digital touchpoints before opening an account or doing more business with them, according to The Financial Brand. The article pointed out, "The most successful organizations had a holistic data and technology strategy that could individualize at scale, with customer journey capabilities that could adapt in real-time, and intelligent decisioning to automate the self–reinforcing cycle of tailored experiences."

With this in mind, it's no surprise that key customer experience priorities for banks in 2022 include:

  • improving relationships and product penetration

  • providing personalized advice

  • proactively engaging customers

  • understanding customers better and highlighting churn risk

With an omnichannel cloud contact center in place, banks can avoid the pitfalls of traditional systems and deliver the efficient, interconnected service that customers expect from their financial institutions. Banks gain the flexibility and scalability to accommodate customers through multiple channels, including voice and phone, chat, SMS, social media, email, and video.

Customers gain the flexibility to choose from a wider selection of contact touchpoints to better accommodate their preferences and serve their needs. One customer may prefer to use a social media platform like the bank's Twitter account to ask general mortgage questions, whereas another may prefer to use an online chat rep to acquire a replacement debit card. Another may find comfort in talking to a rep over the phone to transfer money between two accounts. No matter how customers engage with the bank, financial reps can interact with them in real time, providing them with the best possible service through multiple integrated channels.

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What Is the Difference Between Omnichannel and Multichannel?

Multichannel means using multiple channels to serve and engage customers. Omnichannel means integrating all those channels (and their data) to improve the customer experience.

Many banks are currently at the multichannel stage for customer service. Customers can visit banks in person, email bankers, ask questions on social media or mobile, or call a contact center. But none of the bank representatives they communicate with know what was discussed in the customer's previous engagements.

Contact centers can be particularly frustrating for customers. The endless automated menu options can be confusing, especially when callers miss an option. Assuming they don't incorrectly enter their account numbers, their success entitles them to a precious spot in the queue. Relief kicks in when they finally connect with a representative — who again asks them to answer more security questions before finally getting a chance to explain the reason for the call.

Legacy PBX systems like this burden banks as well. They require steep, upfront investments in hardware and software — plus an IT staff to maintain them. And then contact center agents have to deal with overloaded queues and bounced-around callers. It's a high cost to pay, especially when many institutions are losing customers to online-only banking and struggling to stay competitive.

What Are the Benefits of Omnichannel Banking?

Moving to a cloud-based omnichannel contact center can seem like a big step for banks that are knee-deep in the digital transformation, but it's a move that can augment existing contact centers into a growth driver. Omnichannel banking enables organizations to diversify and bolster revenue streams, driving down costs and boosting margins while dramatically improving the customer experience.

Everyone has had the frustrating experience of calling a banking contact center to ask about an account discrepancy, only to have to recite their information for each new representative they're transferred to. Imagine replacing that sequence with a more streamlined version: "Hi there. I have your account details on my screen. It looks like you last experienced [X]. How can I help you solve that problem?"

This kind of personalized and efficient customer interaction is the result of omnichannel banking, where various channels of communication are connected and able to pass customer data seamlessly among them. Instead of the caller having to repeat their information, the cloud collects it and sends it along to the representative most equipped to handle the inquiry. This is especially critical for today's brick-and-mortar financial institutions in competing against digital banking solutions. These banks provide the quick, personalized service customers want, while keeping center agents from becoming overloaded.

Cloud-based omnichannel banking not only enhances the customer experience, but it also transforms the contact center into a robust data turbine that collects real-time customer data. With artificial-intelligence-powered bots sifting through data to spot trends, nuances, and patterns, banks can leverage this data to enhance personalization initiatives that match relevant products to specific customers. This kind of data collection is key to meeting — and exceeding — customers' expectations of value.

Reshaping Engagement Models

Omnichannel enables contact centers to maximize engagements by parlaying relevant solutions to a captivated audience in real time to compound positive outcomes. While a customer may call about replacing a debit card, omnichannel enables the agility to connect relevant product solutions that can result in the customer upgrading to a high-interest checking account or applying for a mortgage or exploring wealth management services. True omnichannel enables simultaneous connectivity without friction, which is the magic formula to nurturing long-term relationships.

Banks creating an omnichannel experience for their customers are heading in the right direction of their transformation initiatives, using the benefits of an omnichannel contact center as a foundation for building more effective customer engagement. And they're beating the competition in the process.

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