Standing in a queue at the bank to cash in a cheque or access funds was commonplace twenty years ago. Today, you can deposit cheques via your bank's mobile app and transfer or collect funds without ever seeing or physically handling any money.

We have smartphones and the internet to thank for the shift from physical to digital banking. Mobile and desktop banking apps have transformed traditional brick-and-mortar banking into a digital service that can be used anytime and anywhere. With just a few taps or clicks, you can carry out everyday banking, apply for financial products, manage investments, exchange currencies and contact a support agent.

Omnichannel banking is the future of digital banking, enabling customers to have a seamless and positive experience. Read on to learn the benefits of this concept and why it's different from multichannel banking.

What is omnichannel in banking?

Omnichannel banking is all about providing a unified financial experience for customers. In this concept, all online and offline communication channels are integrated for a seamless customer journey, even if the customer switches channels during the same interaction. Branding is consistent across all channels, and customers can use all banking functions from any device or channel without any friction or complications.

To be fully omnichannel, data must sync across all channels so customers can access the same information wherever they are. Some banks have already taken great strides towards omnichannel by offering a wide range of products and services through branches, ATMs, digital, telephony, and intermediary channels.

The difference between omnichannel and multichannel banking

Multichannel banking allows customers to place transactions via multiple channels. Such channels may operate asynchronously, so transaction data isn't shared or synced effectively.

In contrast, omnichannel banking enables customers to interact with and use banking functions via multiple channels, with data being synchronised and shared across all channels in real-time.

Santander is one example in the banking sector that offers an omnichannel presence to its retail customers. You can deposit checks, check balances, and transfer funds on mobile or the desktop app, and your account is instantly updated everywhere. A minute or two later, if you call a support agent, they can see the changes you made to your account.

Common channels used in banking

Banks can adopt various digital and traditional channels to reach customers. Here are the most common ones and the types of communications and interactions they're best suited to.

  • In-branch – many bank services are now digitalised, but some still require in-person interactions. For example, to meet with a financial planner or access a safe deposit box in the bank's secure vault.

  • SMS – a text alert system often used for urgent notifications that customers can't afford to miss, like an overdraft warning or a 2FA PIN code that customers must enter to send a large money transfer.

  • Email – ideal for non-urgent but necessary communications like monthly or periodic financial statements.

  • Mobile app – used for everyday banking and contacting support. Customers need to provide biometric verification to access their account on mobile.

  • Web portal – helpful for more complex banking needs like investment management or accessing detailed financial reports.

  • Social media – used for promotional messages, announcements and educational information. According to a 2023 report by the American Bankers Association (ABA), 89% of banks place great importance on social media. ABA's Executive Vice President of Member Engagement, Russell Davis, said: “This report shows that social media serves as an essential marketing channel that allows banks to connect with customers by meeting them where they are.”

  • Instant messaging (OTT messaging) – frequently used in customer service situations alongside text chatbots for rapid responses to enquiries. The most common channels include Facebook Messenger, Viber and WhatsApp.

Mobile banking app

How to unite multiple channels for an omnichannel experience

A successful omnichannel banking experience requires investment in a centralised IT platform. It also involves considering many factors, such as the interoperability of different systems, integration methods, data sharing and timely synchronisation, access control and timescales for deployment.

Once channels and data are integrated, customers can enjoy cohesive and frictionless banking interactions. Here's an example of an omnichannel experience that seamlessly uses three channels to resolve a customer problem.

  1. The customer receives an automated text message alerting them to a large payment taken out of their bank account.

  2. Unsure of what the transaction relates to and worried it might be fraudulent, the customer sends an instant message to discuss it. A chatbot takes the customer through the verification process and identifies the issue the customer wants to discuss. Since this is a possible fraudulent transaction, the customer is routed to a live agent. After checking the customer's record and conversation history, the agent provides more details on the transaction, and the customer responds by saying that it's valid.

  3. Following this interaction, the customer is emailed proactively to check whether the threshold for large payment notifications needs altering.

From the customer's perspective, their experience is cohesive and virtually effortless. The only information they need to submit is during the chatbot interaction. Following that, the agent is equipped to handle their enquiry efficiently and can follow up with a tailored email to try and improve the customer's service in the future.

The benefits of omnichannel retail banking

One of the main benefits of omnichannel banking is convenience. It allows customers to access banking services whenever and wherever they like, saving them time and effort. Here are some other essential benefits.

Real-time data

In omnichannel banking, customer data flows seamlessly across systems in real-time, making information instantly available across different departments. This ensures transactions can be processed quickly, and customers can see an up-to-date account balance whether logged into mobile or online banking or using an ATM.

Real-time data also reduces the chances of manual errors. Suppose a customer pays off their loan in full at a branch. With data fully integrated across departments, the collections team would receive this information instantly and update their systems to cancel the customer's standing order and collect no further payments.


The constant flow of real-time data allows banks to monitor customer behavior and engagement. They can then use insights to proactively address customer queries and deliver personalised communications, such as tailored product and service recommendations or investing advice.

Omnichannel and automation are the foundation for personalising the customer experience. With the right automated workflows and digital marketing techniques in place across all channels, banks can reduce repetitive tasks, enhance their content strategy and provide customers with better, more efficient service.


Although implementing omnichannel banking involves significant costs, there are plenty of cost-saving opportunities once established. Through integrated systems, operational processes can be streamlined, redundancies removed, and resource utilisation optimised.

An omnichannel strategy gives customer support agents a 360-degree view of customer activity, helping them resolve issues during the first customer interaction. Not only do first-call resolutions increase customer satisfaction, but they also save time and money. Research from SQM Group suggests that every 1% improvement in first-call resolutions correlates to a reduced operating cost by 1%.

Furthermore, by utilising a range of digital channels and making self-service options readily available to customers, banks can reduce the number of physical branches needed across their network, cutting overheads in the process.

Better availability

Going omnichannel gives banking customers greater accessibility to services. Banks remain 'open' 24/7, allowing customers to manage their accounts or contact customer support outside of branch banking hours using multiple channels – even if they're in a completely different time zone than usual.

With all channels operating effectively in parallel, banks can reduce downtime. So if a bank's phone line is down, and customers can't call to ask an urgent question, they could still reach out via live chat, social media, or the web portal.

Greater customer satisfaction

Omnichannel enables customers to experience an interconnected banking journey that blends physical and digital banking. It provides ease, convenience and accessibility at all touchpoints, even when customers switch channels during an interaction.

Messente's Head of Support, Anneli Eesmann, explains further: "Customers don't need to repeat themselves when switching from an online chat to a voice call because the agent is armed with real-time information about the customer's query. That, in itself, is a major contributor to delivering an excellent experience. And because customer issues and complaints can be resolved faster, other customers in a queue for support can benefit from reducing waiting times."

Omnichannel banking also ensures branding and messaging are the same on every channel, helping improve brand awareness and message consistency. Automation tools make measuring customer satisfaction easier, as agents can collect customer feedback on autopilot after every interaction, e.g., with a text message or instant chat survey. This data can then be used to improve staff performance management and banking services in the future.

Customer survey on mobile

Elevating the customer experience via omnichannel banking

In omnichannel banking solutions, all communication channels are integrated and synced to provide a unified and seamless customer experience. This customer-centric approach removes friction so customers can carry out their daily banking activities using all available services from any device and on any channel.

The benefits of omnichannel banking are plentiful. First, it enables the syncing of customer data in real-time so all departments have a holistic and accurate view of each customer. It also enables automation and personalisation so customers can receive tailored communications and recommendations that they're more likely to engage with. Omnichannel banking also drives down operational costs by streamlining operations, maximising resources, and reducing overheads.

Finally, by providing a banking experience that helps exceed customer expectations, satisfaction levels will increase, and customers will be less likely to switch to another bank.

Related reading: Choosing an Omnichannel Platform: 7 Best Options