5 Best Practices To Optimize Your Omnichannel Strategy

Omnichannel success has eluded all but the biggest players in banking. Here are five ideas that will help community banks and credit unions achieve similar results.

Every bank or credit union seems to be talking about how they want to be — or even claim that they already are — a true “omnichannel institution.” You see, omni-channel is nirvana in the banking industry — a utopian place where every retail financial institution dreams of being, but none have really attained. I don’t think they know what omnichannel really means.

An omnichannel organization has gone beyond single-channel, multi-channel and cross-channel models to deliver and orchestrate offers across all customer touch points and channels seamlessly. This means that if I were to accept an offer on my online banking mobile app, then the ATM I visit moments later will react accordingly. Or when someone walks into a branch to apply for a mortgage, the institution knows all of the previous actions they’ve taken to get that far. For most financial institutions, they may claim “omnichannel,” but the reality is that they aren’t there yet.

Analytical Firepower Required to Contextualized the Experience in Real Time

One of the core capabilities for true omnichannel organizations is being able to perform analytical optimization. You must have the capability to select the optimal message from a pool of potential messages that could be presented to a someone, based on supporting data such as time, channel, device and stage in the customer journey and/or life cycle. This can be particularly challenging to pull off, especially if you are using business-rules-based or priority-based optimization instead of analytical optimization. Most systems typically deployed today rely on if/then conditional logic — SQL or event-triggered responses — to present a message, but this doesn’t always work, especially when more than one single variable is the input to an optimization problem (much less a matrix of variables).

How does a financial institution decide what an individual customer needs at a precise and particular moment on any specific channel? Many large banks set out to answer that question using marketing optimization. The goal of marketing optimization is to analytically decide which campaign, communications or messages should go to what individual using the entire customer population as the pool. It also can determine the frequency and channel preference the customer has, all while staying inside the confines of any organizational rules, constraints, policies or budgets that may exist. Often this decision is needed in real time — while the institution is interacting with the customer via a call center, in the branch or at the ATM.

Here are five best practices for any financial institution looking to find a level of success with omnichannel strategies that has eluded all but the banking industry’s biggest players.

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1. Set Requirements and Define Success Early

Ask: What do you consider a requirement? Hardware, software, resources on the project, teams and channels that should contribute to the running of the optimization scenarios – define all of those things up front. Define and plan for integrations and APIs to channel. Then ask: What are you optimizing for? Fewer pieces of direct mail sent, fewer emails sent per day, higher profit or ROI from certain channels? Define success for the implementation and deployment of the solutions as well; it’s important to know what you want to achieve before you start shooting in the dark.

2. Don’t Let Data Stand in the Way

This typically isn’t an issue, but make sure wherever you are sourcing your data from is on board with the project. If it’s just customer data, or risk data, or even fraud data, ensure departments inside the organization (like IT) are on board with what you are asking of them. Often, they have to be educated on how the optimization solution works as well, so consider doing that during the beginning stages of the project.

3. Have the Right Number of Cooks in the Kitchen

This one is important, especially at financial institutions where there may be many departments vying for ownership of the solution. Make sure that the digital marketing, optimization, analytics, measurement and IT departments are involved up front in determining roles and responsibilities.

4. Fail Early and Often, Because You Can

With the optimization solution, you can attempt many scenarios and tweak input variables as needed until the scenario is correct and the sensitivity analysis is on point. Know that you can try these varying scenarios over and over again, iterating on them, before they are pushed live into market.

5. Don’t Limit Yourself to Marketing

As the name suggests, marketing is often the first place brands begin to use marketing optimization. What you will find, however, is that there are many other uses for the solution – including collections, risk, sales, service, etc. While in the planning stages, consider how the solution might evolve over the years.

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