How an omnichannel approach empowers consumers, businesses, and community institutions

With omnichannel, applicants can move freely between digital channels while opening accounts. Here's how it works—and how it benefits today's FIs.

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Key points:

  • Digital account opening can be a headache for consumers, business owners, and financial institutions. At the same time, the bar for customer experience has been set higher than ever.
  • Banks and credit unions can overcome the difficulties that come with opening complex accounts by adopting an omnichannel approach. Omnichannel enables applicants to move freely between different channels—like desktop, mobile, or in-branch—and open all kinds of accounts quickly and easily.
  • An omnichannel approach to account opening will help you meet prospective customers and members where, when, and how they want to be met—now and in the future.

Building out an efficient account opening process can be a challenge for financial institutions (FIs) who want to provide great experiences for both consumers and businesses, but it can also be an opportunity. A great account opening experience offers convenience at every step and allows customers to perform critical account opening functions from anywhere at any time—enabling FIs to match their customers’ exact needs no matter where they are.

If an institution’s account opening process is overly complex, repetitive, or prone to manual error, customers and businesses will simply look elsewhere. As it stands, many competitors to community FIs such as neobanks and money-center banks are able to focus more of their effort and a larger budget on developing seamless digital banking experiences throughout the customer journey. These investments are made in an attempt to meet widespread customer demands for convenience—demands inspired by current customer experiences inside and outside of banking that aim to make customer actions as simple as possible. If your community FI can’t provide a customer with convenient options, the competitors will.

Overall, good account opening requires you to create streamlined processes that work for consumers and businesses, while also boosting efficiency for your institution’s internal team as they manage customer relationships.

Omnichannel account opening—allowing applicants to open accounts through multiple channels—brings everyone’s needs together and guarantees adaptability throughout the account opening process. Using omnichannel, FIs can deliver standout account opening experiences that suit the needs of any consumer or business. 

The challenges of account opening today

To understand why omnichannel is key for effective, flexible account opening, it helps to understand the challenges that individual consumers and businesses face when opening accounts today.

  • Legacy systems — Using old and outdated technology can result in repetitive, overly-involved processes that force applicants to redo steps or supply large amounts of disparate information. Just under half (49 percent) of FI respondents to a Onespan survey say their processes rely on legacy systems with manual processes.
  • Identity verification and document collection — Proper identification is necessary to open new accounts, but validating a customer’s identity through digital channels can be especially tricky and time-consuming if you’re relying on legacy methods. Some banks are already taking steps to move away from these old-school methods and are seeing less customer abandonment as a result. 
  • Lack of guidance throughout the process — Oftentimes, customers don’t get the information they need to complete the bank account opening process. According to our Small Business Account Opening Imperative, more than half (56 percent) of banks cited clients not having all the information they needed as a significant pain point of business account opening.
  • Long processes — Many customers give up on opening an account simply because it takes too long. The Digital Banking Report found that when online and mobile account opening take more than ten minutes and five minutes respectively, as many as 40 percent of applicants are at risk of abandoning the process.

With these factors in mind, it makes sense that business owners and consumers share a strong, sweeping demand for better account opening experiences. According to the 2021 Banking Impact Report, more than half of businesses (57 percent) and consumers (58 percent) consider online account opening a “must-have,” for any bank they use. This ever-increasing demand for convenience means your account opening processes must offer dynamic and flexible customer journeys between in-branch, desktop, mobile device, and tablet experiences. An omnichannel approach allows you to do exactly this.

According to an Accenture study, 50 percent of customers would prefer the ability to switch between online and telephone channels during a transaction. 60 percent would like to see their banks blend physical and digital services together.

On top of their demand for more convenience, consumers are already accustomed to omnichannel-like experiences from retail shopping and now expect the same from their bank.  An Accenture study revealed that 50 percent of customers would prefer the ability to switch between online and telephone channels during a transaction, while 60 percent would like to see their banks blend physical and digital services together. With omnichannel, you can meet these demands today, and easily adjust to the needs of future customers and members.

The difference between omnichannel and multichannel account opening

Many banks support multiple channels for account opening, enabling customers to open bank accounts through the channel they prefer (online or in-branch). But these multichannel account opening capabilities don’t allow customers to switch between channels once they’ve started the account opening process—at least not without having to start the process over from the beginning.

This is where omnichannel makes the difference. Although multichannel and omnichannel approaches seem similar, omnichannel account opening allows applicants to move freely between all channels during the account opening process. This small difference has a huge impact on customer experience as it allows customers and business owners to change their preferred channel mid-process without losing their progress, repeating steps, or interrupting their sign-up experience. Take these two scenarios for example:

  1. Remy and Jesse are two newlyweds who want to open a joint bank account at the community bank in the neighborhood they just moved to. They begin the account opening process on their computer at home, but run into some confusion when the online system won’t accept their new address. To fix the problem, they decide to take a trip to their local branch and speak to an employee. When they reach the bank, a branch employee helps them resolve the issue and they’re able to finish signing up right there in person.
  2. Claire is a business owner who wants to open a business savings account for her new pottery shop and studio. After closing the shop one day, she travels to a nearby branch of her local community bank and begins opening a business account in person, only to find that she needs to upload documents that are back at her studio. The next day, Claire continues the application from the desktop computer in her shop, allowing her to watch over the studio while she does it. She gets sidetracked by customers and has to step away, before eventually finishing the application later that evening from her phone after arriving home.

Demonstrated in the examples above is the reason that omnichannel approaches are so valuable. Opening an account can be a moving target made more difficult by logistical challenges, process hiccups, and lack of flexibility. By allowing applicants to move across channels during the account opening process, omnichannel fosters a faster, smoother, and more enjoyable experience for consumers and business owners alike while preventing potential customers from walking away mid-signup.

By allowing applicants to move freely between all digital channels, omnichannel creates a more convenient and enjoyable account opening experience for consumers, business owners, and financial institutions.

Omnichannel also makes it easier for financial institutions to expand their reach beyond their immediate community. While customers of FIs who offer omnichannel can always take advantage of the hybrid approach of in-branch and digital options, they can also elect to have a purely digital experience—meaning customers don’t actually need to live near a branch to be able to use a bank. Offering omnichannel allows you to widen your marketing efforts and target potential customers who may live further away from your physical branches. 

Future-proofing your bank with omnichannel

Today, consumers and businesses alike crave seamless banking experiences that align with modern-day definitions of convenience. Although we may not call them by the same name, omnichannel capabilities are everywhere—healthcare management, retail and shopping experiences, and even employee processes now enable individuals to move freely between different channels and platforms. Omnichannel approaches are quickly transitioning from a ‘nice-to-have,’ to an essential part of customer experiences, and the banking industry is no different. Research from Capgemini reveals that 76 percent of customers in 2021 already expect an omnichannel banking experience. Consumers will always prefer options that are convenient and efficient. With omnichannel you can deliver on this expectation no matter where your customers are. 

Curious about the role MANTL plays in an omnichannel approach? Schedule a demo with us here.

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