This article originally appeared on CMO.com.

The banking industry is adapting to the mobile-first era. Bank of America spent half a billion dollars on mobile banking between 2011 and 2014 and recently doubled down on its digital services. In October the bank announced a virtual banking assistant named Erica, joining a handful of banks offering chatbots. These smart assistants only add more complexity to an omnichannel customer journey that includes search, web, email, TV, direct mail, phone calls, and in-person visits.

The future of banking is omnichannel, and in many ways that future is already here. Today’s customer experience encompasses much more than digital interactions. While banks are introducing new ways for customers to interact, many marketers are failing to connect online touch points with offline conversations and are missing key opportunities with customers. Banks that want to keep up with the demands of today’s mobile consumer need to think beyond digital. Phone calls are a key part of understanding your target audience and creating the kinds of experiences that build trust and lead to sales.

Invoca conducted a consumer survey to better understand how offline interactions, specifically phone calls, influence a big financial decision: where to take out a loan. We surveyed 1,200 people who took out a loan worth more than $15,000 in the past three years.

The results show that calls are key to the decision-making process for people across generational lines. Eighty-four percent of consumers made at least one phone call during the loan process, and 72% made at least two. While consumers prefer mobile apps for checking an account balance or transferring money, they want to talk to a representative about more complex or sensitive matters, such as reporting a fraudulent charge, clarifying a statement, evaluating a loan, or opening an account.

These calls are influential and affect the bottom line. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of survey respondents said their calls during the loan process influenced their decision to take out a loan from a particular institution; this increased to almost three-fourths (73%) among people who took out a loan of $100,000 or more.

Customers want service tailored to their individual needs, and this is particularly true for offline interactions such as phone calls and in-branch visits. Eighty-four percent of survey respondents said that being immediately routed to the right rep had a positive or extremely positive impact on their decision. Further, 80% said they were positively influenced by a rep knowing their relationship to the bank and account history when they picked up the phone.

As personalization becomes a widespread consumer expectation, financial institutions need to know who’s calling and be able to immediately route the customer to the best representative. Better yet, they should arm that rep with background about why they’re calling, what interactions they’ve had with the bank up until that point, and how likely they are to make a decision. Call intelligence can provide the insight that makes this level of personalized service possible.

Mobile apps and responsive websites are important, but it’s a mistake to invest in these properties at the expense of phone calls. These conversations build trust, confidence, and long-lasting relationships, which are critical for consumers choosing an institution from which to purchase high-value financial products and safeguard their finances. As a result, financial institutions must not only prioritize a great phone experience, but also look for opportunities to connect the powerful insights from these conversations to the rest of the customer journey.

 

Kyle Christensen

Posted by Kyle Christensen

Kyle is a SaaS veteran, having spent over 15 years working in enterprise software. Before Invoca, Kyle was VP of Marketing at Responsys, a leading cloud platform for cross-channel digital marketing, where he launched the company's mobile product line and drove the growth of the enterprise business up until the company's acquisition by Oracle for $1.5B. Kyle has also served in senior strategic product marketing and management roles at Zuora and at Salesfore.com where he ran enterprise marketing for Data.com and helped launch the Service Cloud line of business.

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