Banks and credit unions are readying themselves for the digital age of banking, with a stronger focus on technology-dominated products. While many have scrambled to throw something out there, few are thinking about how to differentiate their organization’s digital products from their competitors. Most are simply trying to figure out how they can gain a short-term competitive position in their market and also capture long-term customer loyalty.
Retail banking challenges in the US include dealing with pure play digital competitors, digitally empowered customers demanding a new set of products and services and developing a smart transition from branches to digital customer care centers.
What’s the bottom line for digital success? Don’t just dabble in digital. Take the time to read this Q&A and then launch a digital lifestyle experience as a market leader with highly branded, customized and useful products and services that meet the needs of your customers’ digital lives.
Mobile: The New Dominant Platform
Use of mobile banking has increased 50% since last year and nearly one-third of US consumers (32%) now do mobile banking at least once a month according to a recent Accenture survey. Mobile will soon be your bank’s central hub of service delivery and customer engagement. Surveys show that 40% of customers (of all ages) now factor mobile solutions into why they choose their primary financial service institution. By 2014, it is estimated that there will be 45 million mobile banking users, a number that is growing daily.
1. Do you have mobile apps already deployed for your customers?
If not, you better get in the game or get left behind. Surveys consistently show that mobile is one of the top priorities for bank CIOs which is an indication that it’s a priority for most financial institutions for 2014.
2. Do your mobile apps look like everyone else’s—same template, different colors?
If you are not developing your own custom app, you should select an app template that provides significant customization options for your brand. We see many banks and credit unions missing an important opportunity: an important branding opportunity.
3. Do your mobile apps offer robust features such as mobile bill pay and deposit?
Many financial institutions did jump on the mobile app bandwagon early to attempt to be first to market. But in doing that, their apps are not as robust as they should be. We tell our clients that if it takes an additional six months to get to market with an app that has the latest features available, then it is worth the competitive edge that the app will bring.
4. Have you integrated your bank’s brand into your mobile apps?
Many customers will interact with you via your mobile app most of the time. Your mobile app should be branded to represent your financial institution. The last thing you want is for a customer to be shopping in the app store and for your app to not stand out. View your mobile app as a branding project and not just a technical one. Make sure your mobile development team includes designers, marketing strategists and developers.
5. Do you monitor your app store ratings? And compare them to those of your competitors?
According to Rajesh Kandaswamy, Research Director with Gartner, “The average of Apple App Store ratings for the mobile banking apps of the ten largest consumer banks in the U.S. is 2.9 stars for all versions.” Know where you stand and strive to be in the lead.
6. How will you transition the bulk of your budget from operating and staffing branches to investing in Internet, social networking and mobile?
Your team should be planning now for the growing digital banking revolution in every aspect of your operations. There are no guidelines for transitioning away from branches and more toward digital. One thing is for certain, if you wait to follow a success story, you will be much too late.
7. Are you training your employees for your technology products?
Your front line employees should be your no. 1 brand and product ambassadors and they need to understand the technology you are offering such as mobile or PFM. Before you roll out online and mobile products, make sure they can talk about them intelligently with the customers they interact with in the branches and be able to answer any questions.
8. How are you educating your customers about the latest in banking technology?
Even if your bank has innovative mobile banking in place or plans to put them in place, most customers won’t stumble on them on their own. Bank marketers need to work to educate customers about the great innovative features that are available now and about new ones as they come out. Host in-branch seminars or webinars that you can promote via social media or online through a video series. Install technology oriented product kiosks in the branches that are designed to quickly educate your customers.
9. Are you updating your web site to become an information center for your new technology products?
The first place many will go to for answers to their questions when using your mobile products is online. Have you customized your web site to be user friendly with FAQ sections, User Guides, video tutorials and step-by-step instructions about how to download and start using your apps and other online features?
10. Are you keeping track of what’s on the horizon?
Many banks are scrambling now to add mobile deposit to their apps. Do you have mobile deposit in your plans, along with person-to-person payments, mobile bill pay and mobile funds transfer? What about voice and speech recognition – voice recognition for authentication and speech recognition to let people conduct banking transactions by speaking rather than typing? Make sure you have a team charged with plotting your next steps. Surveys show that consumers whose banks offer innovative mobile banking features are significantly more satisfied.