TD Bank Designed an Omnichannel Strategy from Scratch: Here's How

Transforming a fragmented customer experience into an integrated one

Kindra Cooper

Omnichannel strategy

When a TD Bank executive tallied up the value of all the abandoned applications customers started in digital channels and never finished, it came to the tune of $1 billion in lost revenue.

Clearly, something was amiss - namely, the bank’s omnichannel strategy, which was creating unnecessary customer effort and dissuading prospects from completing a purchase.

Customers could apply for new products and services on twelve different systems; the platforms customers interfaced with were not the same ones used by employees on the backend. Customers who’d banked with TD for years would sign up for a new credit card or business loan and be asked to fill out an entirely new application as if they’d just walked in off the street.

Finally, the bank used different methods to authenticate customers depending on the touchpoint; the call center used voice recognition technology, a customer on a mobile device provided a password, answered security questions or used Touch ID. Someone using an ATM or visiting a branch would dip their card.

The omnichannel experience essentially promises seamless movement between channels. Today, TD has a personalized authentication system across its channels that allows customers to choose their preferred type of login method - such as fingerprinting or taking a selfie - and authenticate the same way every time.

TD’s new analytics modelling can now interpret about five years of consumer data in just 15 minutes, and if a customer walks into a branch having started an application for a mortgage online, the representative knows and can help the customer pick up where they left off.

omnichannel strategy“We recognized that in order for us to have a truly connected customer experience we had to somehow find a way to share context data that moved with the customer wherever they went,” Montresa McMillan, head of omni strategy for TD North America, said at the CCW Executive Exchange in Miami last week.

McMillan was hired four years ago to design and deploy an omnichannel strategy for a bank that was founded in 1885. The first thing she did was consult with customers to understand what perspectives they were missing from the “corporate glasshouse.”

Customer commandment #1: Know me

The “know your customer” rhetoric is not just about schmoozing - it’s about doing business with the customer in a context-informed way. McMillan found that existing customers said they wanted to be acknowledged for their patronage, but not for the “soft” reasons you might think, like validation or appreciation.

“We dug a little deeper and what customers said is if I want an additional product, guess what, you ask me the same 12 questions you asked when I signed up for the last five products with you,” she explained. “Or if I started an application on a digital channel and I walk into your branch or call the contact center, there’s no knowledge of that.”

Read more: Special Report - How to Choose an Omnichannel Provider

Data silos between business lines such as retail, lending, mortgage and wealth management meant that not only was each division pursuing their own profit and loss metrics, but there was no customer information-sharing between them, thereby begetting the inside joke “the better the customer, the more questions we ask them,” when the opposite should be true.

McMillan and her team consolidated the twelve systems into one digital platform for onboarding customers buying new products and services.

“That same platform would live in our assisted channels - our contact center and branch channels - so that when a customer wants to onboard with us regardless of where they are in the bank they can use the same system,” she explained. “They can save it in one channel, they can resume it in a different channel.”

Customer commandment #2: Help me

McMillan and her team were surprised to hear this, because they thought helping the customer was exactly what they were doing. But what the customer really meant, she says, was Help me help myself. “And when I can’t help myself, help me seamlessly get to an expert that can help me.” Now, customers who are signed into TD’s mobile app can speak to a live agent on their mobile device without being re-authenticated. And when customers transition from one channel to another, their data migrates with them.

When your business starts offering multiple channels and self-service portals, you automatically create an expectation that customers will be able to easily move between channels, which also means you need to proactively route customers towards the right channel to get their issue resolved, such as through a contextual IVR.

Customer commandment #3: Make it easy

Before the omnichannel overhaul, the bank’s digital channels, contact center and physical branches each had their own P&Ls, “which means they were responsible for their own channels, not so much how a customer moves from one to the other.” Before, it took a branch employee 45 minutes to onboard a new customer, whereas a customer can enroll themselves in two minutes through the online self-service portal.

Customer commandment #4: Be consistent

Without an omnichannel strategy, the customer experience was fragmented. Customers complained that policies differed between distribution channels, as did the authentication process. Inconsistent policies create friction not only in terms of effort but customer sentiment towards the brand - there may be the feeling of being duped, or, when certain privileges are withheld at one touchpoint but not another, being shortchanged.

After implementing a five-year omnichannel roadmap, TD saw its bottom line and shareholder value soar.

We’ve now been able to generate 60% of what we promised the bank in just a year. And if you look at the numbers now they have far exceeded what we anticipated,” said McMillan.

But omnichannel is not a set-it-and-forget-it effort; rather, it’s an iterative process that constantly begets new insights and room for improvement.

“Every time we think about our environment, there is one more customer journey that we haven’t looked at,” said McMillan. “We believe this is the way for the future: aligning ourselves to the customers, aligning our channels such that they work together seamlessly.”