Ushering in a New Era of Customer Engagement with an Omnichannel Approach


Exceptional customer service and customer experience is the foundation of any business. Customer expectations are changing fast, and businesses have to figure out a way to constantly keep up with customers’ needs. But how does a company rededicate itself to the customer experience if they have already fallen behind? It’s a matter of reinvention and reengagement, and Ibercaja Banco is not afraid of either.

Ibercaja Banco is the ninth-largest banking group in Spain, and has provided its customers with top-quality financial services for 140 years. We have 5,500 employees and 1,200 branches across the country, and three million clients, who include individuals, institutions, freelancers, and SMEs.  

For years, I’d worked at the Spanish telecommunications multinational Teléfonica. Two years ago, Ibercaja decided it was time to undergo a transformation in its online and digital relationships with customers. I was offered the chance to lead the project, called Ibercaja Connect. I’d take charge of the bank’s public-facing online channels and manage all non-face-to-face relationships. My larger task was to turn this project into a fully-functioning business unit for the bank. 

Meeting Customers Where They Are

As valued as the customer has always been, Ibercaja faced several challenges with its digital customer interactions. At the time we launched Ibercaja Connect, we lacked the capacity to connect with our customers on multiple platforms and move from one platform to the next, which meant that we had an incomplete picture of our relationship with the customer.

If you’re not connecting with customers across multiple platforms, you’re missing out on key relationships with those customers.

The main challenge was not only to add new channels but to integrate digital communications with customers into the CRM, in order to maximize these communications in an agile and efficient way. In addition to turning Ibercaja Connect into a business unit, Ibercaja also wanted to develop new strategies and services that focused on the end customer. 

Omnichannel vs. Multichannel: The Quest for a Complete Customer Picture

The first step at Ibercaja Connect was to analyze the market and identify the most advanced technological solutions available. From there, we worked with other departments of the Ibercaja team, such as Technology, Marketing, Purchasing, and Connect, to issue an RFP. 

Our search for a technology partner was about much more than a technical proposal, though. We needed to work with a company that fit into Ibercaja’s customer service philosophy. For Ibercaja, the customer is always on top, and that had to remain the case even when looking for the best technology available. 

Ibercaja already had a longstanding relationship with Atos and Telefónica. We’d previously worked with them on an Atos Unify OpenScape Contact Center upgrade project, using OpenScape Voice to support more than 8,000 users in 1,200 locations. Beyond the results of the current RFP, we knew that we could reuse part of the existing Atos Unify infrastructure for our new solution. That would save us a considerable amount of money, in addition to offering potential for a smoother deployment. 

Having selected Atos Unify as the communications provider, it was an easy decision to choose Telefónica as the main contractor. Telefónica is by far the market leader in Spain in fixed and mobile voice communication, as well as in the integration arena. In this case, the CRM integration was key to tracking relationships with the end customer. Atos Unify provided the OpenScape Contact Center, and Telefónica provided the integration of all the little pieces that had to be put together.

Everyone can have a multichannel approach to reaching customers; but a true omnichannel approach allows you to trace the complete #customerjourney.

What we ultimately developed together was a true omnichannel platform. Many companies have a multichannel platform, which involves communications across multiple channels. An omnichannel platform, however, is much more beneficial to a business. 

The differentiator is that an omnichannel platform allows you to trace the complete customer journey. If a customer started a conversation with Ibercaja on Facebook, Twitter, or WhatsApp, for example, then they moved from there to a voice call or communication directly through our website, we’d be able to see that. We’d also add the ability to identify where and when a customer abandoned contact along the way. The OpenScape Contact Center solution enabled us to deliver a true omnichannel platform. 

Getting Ahead of the COVID Communication Rush

The entire deployment process took only seven to eight months, and the timing of this deployment could not have been better. As the world was thrown into a tailspin due to COVID-19, everyone had to find new ways to maximize digital and virtual communication both within their company and with their customers. Many companies were caught off guard and had to scramble to find a solution, but we were ahead of the game. 

So many aspects of life have been put on hold due to restrictions and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic, so it was reassuring for our customers that they could get in touch with their bank however they saw fit. Because we’re now available through more channels, our customers can use the channel of their choice, rather than being restricted by our limited presence.

We’ve already seen some early results that demonstrate how much our processes have improved since partnering with Atos Unify on Ibercaja Connect. One of these improvements has been our data processing. The optimization of private data processing has jumped by 20%. Now, we have a better understanding of the customer by the time they connect with us. That allows us to make decisions faster than before and be more precise in our targeting. 

Making that process more agile also saves us time. Response time has improved by 60% and service costs are down by 40%. Knowing our customers better has actually opened up new business opportunities and marketing campaigns, and overall productivity has increased by 20%.

Getting Results for Our Business and Our Customers

Those metrics speak volumes, but it’s also nice to be recognized by our peers. Platinum Contact Centers Awards are given to companies that improve the customer experience through technological development. The Ibercaja Group, Telefónica, and Atos Unify received the award in August 2020 for the “Best Omnichannel IT Project” within the category of Platinum Awards for Technological Innovation. 

Leading Ibercaja Connect has been a great adventure. We knew from the beginning that it would be a challenge to update our approach to reaching customers and move to a new platform with new channels, but through it all, everyone worked as a team. My personal history with Telefónica was helpful, but the long-term relationships between Ibercaja, Telefónica, and Atos Unify made a huge difference in the outcome. Our partners knew our values and our existing processes, and they also understood our goals for this project. That understanding helped facilitate the integration of this complete solution. 

The best part is, this story isn’t over yet. The next steps for us are to increase our use of AI and chatbots. We want to automate as much of our early communications as possible, to facilitate and optimize the information-gathering on our customer and their situation before that first human touch. That will ultimately improve the customer’s experience when they connect with a live person. 

Before, we were behind the times. We weren’t available to customers via their preferred channels. Now, we have entered a new era for Ibercaja. Through the development of our omnichannel platform, we can serve customers where they are, wherever they are.