Why omni-channel sets the best banks apart from multi-channel banks

Omni-channel is being hailed as the future of banking. We explore what it looks like and more importantly, what it means for your customers.

Why omni-channel sets the best banks apart from multi-channel banks

We all understand what ‘multi-channel banking’ means and how it gives customers a choice on how they engage with their bank: in branch, online, on their mobile, on the phone, through Twitter and more.

More recently the term ‘omni-channel banking’ (from the latin meaning “all” or “every”) has been gaining traction too, so what’s the difference and how do multi-channel and omni-channel banking compare?

In multi-channel banking customers can choose their preferred means of dealing with the bank but each channel functions independently from the others.

In omni-channel banking customers can still choose which channels they use to engage with their bank but the channels are joined up so that the customer experience is seamless across them all.

What omni-channel will look like

Let’s use the example of an omni-channel mortgage application to demonstrate. It’s 2017 and Sara is applying for a mortgage. She starts the application process whilst commuting to work:


Sara uses her large screen mobile phone to read about her bank’s mortgage products and offers, and to try out a few different options with its mortgage calculator until her research is cut short by the end of her journey.

At lunch time she uses her work laptop to resume her research and her bank’s website automatically takes her to the last thing she looked at on her phone, during her commute.


After navigating to the ‘mortgage application’ page on her bank’s website she logs into her bank account. To authenticate herself she opens up the biometric app on her NFC smartphone, holds her forefinger against its biometric fingerprint reader and then taps the device against her laptop. Logging in and authentication is simple, seamless and persistent across channels.

Information gathering

To apply Sara needs to complete an online form but almost all of the information is filled in automatically rather than typed. Because she is already ‘known’, her name, address, contact details, bank account, date of birth and other personal details are pre-filled. Similarly, Sara can automatically fill in the terms of the mortgage she wants by selecting one of the scenarios she tested with the bank’s mortgage calculator earlier.

For the fields that require information about the property she plans to buy, Sara uses an NFC tap to send information from the estate agent app on her phone to the form.

Customer support

There is one field on the form that Sara needs help with. She touches the webchat icon next to that field and a virtual customer support assistant appears instantly. The assistant already knows who she is, what she is trying to do and where she has got stuck. In a multi-channel system she would have had to call the customer support centre, answer a range of security questions to re-authenticate herself and then explain what she was trying to do.