Perhaps more than anything, mobility is fundamentally changing the relationship people have with banks, as customers become increasingly reliant on technology for everything from routine transactions to financial advice. And maybe a bit surprisingly, it’s also dramatically improving access to financial services regardless of income, location, or even one’s appetite for new tools and technology.
Digital banking has truly reshaped how people bank. Not long ago, online banking was at the pinnacle of convenience. Whenever people were at their computers, they could access their accounts, get the information they needed, and conduct basic transactions. It was one of the most important advances for banking in decades.
However, the increasing ubiquity of smartphones has accelerated the rate of change within banking at a breathtaking pace. Just five years ago, two-thirds of deposits were made at banking centers – today, that proportion has been cut in half.
At the time, Bank of America had a little over 6 million mobile banking users, and now that number has reached almost 22 million. Accordingly, mobile logins have also increased 1000 percent during this five-year period. During the fourth quarter of 2016 alone, mobile banking clients logged into their accounts more than 967 million times – greatly surpassing the 485 million desktop logins during this same timeframe.
Our own research into consumer banking habits supports this usage trend. For the first time, our Trends in Consumer Mobility Report showed that the majority of people are using a mobile banking app. These numbers have increased with the functionality of mobile banking.
Beyond checking balances and transferring between accounts, customers can deposit checks and check their FICO scores via mobile. Nearly nine in 10 customers use mobile banking alerts, especially for fraud or unusual activity, deposits and low balance notifications. And nearly three-quarters of consumers have taken action as the result of a mobile alert.
Given the rapidly evolving needs and banking behaviors of our clients, our challenge is to change with them so that we continue to be a trusted resource for all their financial needs. Our success is based fundamentally on the relationships we have with our clients – all 60 million – and we listen carefully to them so that they remain at the center of everything we do. We accomplish this through client surveys, focus groups, one-on-one listening sessions, and by paying close attention to client feedback on social media and in the app store.
As a result, we’ve made changes in how we work with clients across every channel – whether they’re using their smartphone or computer, stopping into a financial center or calling us on the phone. Each of these interactions have been revolutionized by technology: our vision now is to make it easier for our clients to manage their financial lives as an extension of their daily digital activities. We see digital banking as a way to put the full power of the bank in our clients’ hands, allowing their mobile device to take on the role of a bank teller, an ATM or a financial advisor.
As you might expect, a key area of focus for us is continuing to enhance our clients’ digital experience through ongoing improvements to our mobile and online banking offerings. For example, we just launched a new spending and budgeting tool that offers a dynamic income and spending comparison and outlines spending trends up to the past 13 months.
Last year, updates to our mobile platform included a redesign of our mobile app, including easier navigation and the ability to set the language to Spanish; the introduction of My Balance, which allows clients to check balances without signing in; an update allowing clients to redeem rewards for BankAmericard Cash Rewards and BankAmericard Travel Rewards credit cards; and a new option for clients to view their FICO Scores. These are just a few ways that we are continuously refining and enhancing our clients’ digital banking experience.
As much progress as we’ve made with our mobile and online offerings, when it comes to improving financial lives, there is still no substitute for face-to face contact with the people we serve. It’s about being as much high-tech as we are high-touch. That’s why we’re investing heavily in our financial centers – opening new centers and refurbishing and renovating hundreds more – making them destinations for our customers to come when they need help and advice.
A part of this effort has also been to update our financial centers so that they are seamlessly integrated with our digital platforms. In fact, we view our financial centers as a key part of our high-tech, high-touch approach to serving our clients.
At a time when technology can sometimes seem like a depersonalizing force, integrating it with the face-to-face human element of financial services will allow us to work even more closely with the people and the communities we serve. That’s also why we have trained “Digital Ambassadors” to help our customers understand how they can more conveniently manage their finances through mobile.
By enhancing our financial centers so that they become a destination for our clients – and by increasingly integrating our digital and physical offerings – we’ve driven traffic to our physical locations, with 1.2 million client appointments made in our financial centers in 2016.
But it’s not all about the bells and whistles. Innovation helps people improve their financial lives by giving them greater access to education and planning tools than ever before. Our financial education website, BetterMoneyHabits.com, is accessible to everyone online and via mobile and is a useful way to introduce how banking works and to create good financial habits. In the last year alone, we had 18.6 million views of the Better Money Habits experience within our mobile app.
From my perspective, adapting at the pace of innovation is key to not only building stronger relationships with our clients, but also to improving their financial lives. We aim to offer our most advanced capabilities to make interactions with our clients easier and more secure, and also so that we remain a trusted resource for our clients when they have a question or need advice.
Our goal is not just about delivering access to resources and convenient solutions – it’s about anticipating and meeting our clients’ ever-changing needs. Running at the pace of innovation is a challenge for virtually all organizations in today’s world, and Bank of America is no exception. However, if we remain connected with our purpose – to make financial lives better – we are sure to succeed.
Additional Insights on Improving the Customer Experience
The Improving the Customer Experience in Banking report, sponsored by Deluxe, provides insight into the progress being made by financial institutions globally in the area of customer experience. Beyond a review of goals and investments, this report delves deeply into the strategies, effectiveness, challenges and measures around improving CX in the banking industry. The report includes the results of a survey of more than 250 financial services organizations worldwide. The report has 85 pages of analysis with 52 charts and graphs.
Michelle Moore is Head of Digital Banking for Bank of America. In this role, she is responsible for developing and executing Bank of America’s mobile and online strategy, roadmap and transformation. She is focused on making banking more convenient for customers by delivering innovative products and services across mobile devices and online platforms. Moore is also responsible for ATM, Fraud, Preferred and Small Business Call Centers, and Financial Centers and Market Growth Strategy.