Multi-Channel Integration And Account Opening: One Big Happy Family

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There is a divide within banking consumers today. Many younger consumers have a preference for online or mobile banking and the older generations, in general, prefer branch banking and contacting customer service over the telephone. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule--some college-age consumers may prefer branch banking and middle-aged business people who prefer to do their banking online.

There are many channels a consumer can choose to use and every person has their preference, but no matter the channel, financial institutions (FIs) must make sure there is a consistent experience throughout those channels. It is proven that consumers who have a positive experience with online banking (for those who prefer it) are 50% more likely to purchase additional products from their bank. This can be said for other channels as well, if FIs can achieve effective multi-channel integration, they will be able to increase their account opening across the enterprise.

Today, more than ever, it is important for FIs to keep every channel connected. Consumer preferences are shifting to online channels, but there are certain products, such home mortgages, that some people (and banks) will never feel comfortable opening through an online channel-this means that multiple channels are still relevant even though preferences are changing. Consumers want to know that their needs are being met and that their investment in their future is safe.

This requires the consumer to trust the bank and the people they are working with. Multi-channel integration is one way to increase consumer trust; banks can have consistent messaging and also track consumer activity from each channel. Based on consumer information collected, banks can make the interactions personalized, giving the consumer the feeling that the bank cares about what they are interested in, and that they want to be a trusted advisor instead of a big brick building.

When customers feel comfortable with a FI, they will feel more comfortable using their products. Once a consumer decides to use a bank's products, no matter the channel, it is important to use enterprise cross-sell to capitalize on the consumer's buying state-of-mind to increase account opening. If a customer is applying for a student loan, FIs should stress the convenience of being able to link their student loan and DDA accounts online. This would allow the customer to make payments to their student loan and track all of their accounts in one channel that is easy to use. FIs must employ an enterprise strategy in order to be able to use multi-channel integration to their advantage to increase account opening.

Multi-channel integration is a daunting task for FIs, but there are modern technology solutions that can help FIs achieve this goal. New technology might be a big investment for some FIs, but it is important to compare the costs to the benefits that a FI receives from it. Technology solutions can enhance their customers' experiences by allowing FIs to portray a consistent message across all channels. This means that all lines of business are available to consumers across all channels. For example, consumers can start an application online and use the branch and customer service representatives as a resource to finish the application. When customers are having positive experiences, banks are more likely to see increased account opening.

Multi-channel integration can be a powerful tool for banks to enhance the account opening process. With the right strategies and technology solutions in place, FIs can enhance their customers' experiences by communicating a consistent message across all channels (i.e. online, mobile, or branch banking). This will foster deeper long-term relationships between the FI and its customers.

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