The way we search for and buy products and services has changed dramatically in the last few years. A survey by analytics firm comScore and UPS revealed that consumers now purchase more things online than in brick-and-mortar locations. While we all may have seen the writing on the wall and believed this would eventually happen, it is nonetheless a significant milestone consumers’ buying patterns, with massive implications on every industry — including banking.
Financial institutions that offer a true mobile experience enjoy a competitive advantage in today’s marketplace. With all the attention paid to mobile banking, mobile apps and payments — a reflection of the need to “bank consumer where they are” — it is concerning that most financial institutions still do not offer the ability to open new accounts online. Studies suggest that fewer than 25% of financial institutions offer the ability to open new accounts on a mobile device, and even fewer have a solution that is uniquely optimized for the mobile channel.
The account opening processes is often one of the very first experiences someone has with your brand, so you want to ensure that it creates a positive and lasting impression. As the Millennial generation comes of age and forms the primary segment for new customer acquisition, mobile optimization must be a top priority for the industry. Millennials are digital natives, so they prefer mobile channels vs. traditional channels that tend to frustrate their mobile-first lifestyle. They don’t want to visit a branch or contact the call center if it can be avoided (who doesn’t?).
In a study by research firm Javelin, it was found that financial institutions continue struggling to provide a true start-to-finish account opening solution on a single digital channel. Of the survey participants, only one out of eight offered a start-to-finish experience on a smartphone or tablet. With high abandonment rates on mobile channels, financial institutions that are first to market with an end-to-end mobile account opening solution have a leg up when attracting the highly-coveted Millennial consumer segment.
There are four strategies that a financial institution should consider to ensure that the user experience caters to the limitations of the mobile channel as well as capitalizes on its advantages. Just remember, a mobile-optimized experience goes beyond responsive design or a website that works on smartphone.
1. ‘Responsive’ is Not ‘Mobile-Optimized’
Often websites that are built for the desktop first using responsive design lack the refinement that can be the difference between a new customer and a detractor on a mobile channel. Nothing is more aggravating for consumers than hitting the wrong button or having to retype information. Simple design elements can make a big difference in your mobile experience, such as:
- Increasing the size of buttons to make them “thumb friendly”
- Stacking buttons as opposed to placing them next to each other.
- Using larger text.
- Using mobile friendly features of the operating systems such as the calendar controls used by the Android and iOS as opposed to desktop preferred versions.
2. Photo Op: Capture the Opportunity
Any opportunity to reduce the number of fields a user must complete is HUGE, and mobile devices offer great advantages in this area. Users are far more likely to use the camera on their phone than on a computer. In fact, according to Flickr’s Year in Review study, smartphones accounted for 48% of devices used to upload pictures and video across all their users. Because they are so commonly used a potential customer is often willing to capture a picture of their license or passport, which can help to complete large portions of the application as well as provide the institution with an identification document for their records. Today’s technologies can even allow you to compare a driver’s license or other picture identification to a user-captured selfie and eliminate additional ID verification steps.
3. Getting Personal With Geo-Locational Data
In a survey by IDC, 30-40% of internet access is spent on non-work related internet usage; at the same time, 60% of all online purchases are made during work hours. This indicates that many of the visitors to your site are using a company computer. This, coupled with the use of proxy servers, means that much of the location data you pick up from an online experience may be inaccurate. For example, a potential customer could live in Denver, but their computer would indicate that their location is in New York where the company proxy server is located. This could result in the financial institution offering the wrong promotions or products based on the proxy server location and not the new customer’s home location. Mobile, on the other hand, determines location based on cellular towers so the likelihood of accurate data is far higher and more personalized.
4. Ready to Continue? Welcome Back!
Don’t assume that a new customer will complete their application in one sitting. The process can be interrupted by a number of things — a phone call, a subway stop, a Snapchat from a friend. Mobile optimization should allow for the new customer to easily resume the application. An email or a text offering the opportunity to continue from where they left off can significantly bring down abandonment rates from the mobile channel. To be effective, the “Resume” function must allow for a user to restart the application on any device with no difference in the user experience. A study by business intelligence firm L2 indicated that consumers spend 60% of their time shopping on mobile devices but only complete 16% of transactions on those devices. Today’s fast pace life means that users often start task but fail to complete in one session and that reminder can come when they are on their phone, a tablet, or a desktop.
A mobile-optimized experience not only allows your new customers to immediately interact with your institution at a convenient time for them, but it’s the first step to building trust and creating an engaged financial relationship. With accurate data, institutions can personalize and deliver relevant communications to better position themselves to boost engagement and improve cross-sell opportunities throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
Adam Westley is the VP Business Development and Commercial Client Services at Computershare Communication Services. Computershare partners with retail banks to create client-centric communication strategies for the entire customer lifecycle. You can connect with Adam on LinkedIn.