Banks and credit unions offering mobile banking options face competition not only from other institutions but also neobanks and apps. And that’s not all. They must continue to enhance their mobile properties to keep up with consumer experience expectations set by other industries’ apps.
Innovation is particularly essential as mobile channels are rapidly becoming the first place consumers shop for financial products and open new accounts.
That’s not the only challenge. Financial institutions must design a more personalized customer experience in the next generation of mobile banking. One advantage traditional institutions have over new competitors is the capability to analyze customer information, account activity and spending patterns. This allows them to deliver personalized financial insights and guidance to consumers in a wide range of financial scenarios.
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Three Key Mobile Banking Trends to Follow
Much is going on in mobile services, but a trio of areas demand close attention.
1. Personalizing the Digital Experience
Consumers expect a lot out of their mobile experiences. They want apps with efficient navigation that anticipates their needs. And they want real-time information and personalized guidance and insights on their current and future financial picture.
Know Your Customer (Or Lose Them):
Consumers want a personalized experience based on their preferences and known customer data. This might include contextual lifestyle and lifestage insights derived from finely honed profiles.
Institutions have the data to be able to do this, and following through will help them understand consumers’ needs.
Customers want to be able to select the type of account information they first see on their authenticated dashboard screen. This includes transactions, individualized financial insights, and navigational shortcuts to their most frequent banking tasks. The dashboard could also include the ability to track significant account and spending changes, savings goals and notifications for savings and investment opportunities.
Providing real-time alerts about significant transactions or balance changes is also essential. 60% of banks’ mobile apps send real-time alerts for low balances, according to Keynova Group’s Q1 2022 Mobile Banker Scorecard. However, the research also found only 35% of banks offer real-time alerts for NSF or overdrawn accounts.
The next wave in mobile banking will also include more depth in predictive and proactive insights. This will help customers harness financial opportunities and reduce unnecessary expenses.
2. Intelligent Virtual Assistants on the Rise
The availability of virtual or digital assistants via a financial institution’s mobile properties is widespread but not every digital assistant is created equal. Banking customers expect an experience that is the equivalent of working with a customer service representative — offering guidance and personalized help with the aid of today’s leading consumer technologies.
Banks are taking note and taking advantage of emerging artificial intelligence technology to make their virtual assistants quasi-intelligent. True virtual assistants are more than simple chatbots or systems that operate on a script. They understand and respond to speech nuances and interactive clarifications to provide help or guide the user to contextual screens.
In addition to providing customer support, these assistants may also aid clients in completing critical activities, such as opening an account, by guiding them through each process. Intelligent virtual assistants can also recommend the best course of action when posed with questions about spending, transactions or balances.
A Critical Missing Link in Bank Apps:
Fewer than 20% of banks offer intelligent or smart virtual assistants.
Bank of America’s Erica continues to lead the pack and U.S. Bank’s Smart Assistant is gaining traction with the ability to relay customer’s financial information, respond to important questions with relevant answers and even perform key action items such as transferring money and paying bills. Wells Fargo’s revamped mobile app, to be fully rolled out in the summer of 2022, will also offer a digital assistant.
3. Humanizing Customer Service Channels
Digital innovations are an imperative, but consumers demand personal service when it comes to their money and personal finances.
Banks cannot emulate the efficiency-driven customer service models of large tech companies, where users must resort to third-party forums to receive answers to important questions or rely on chatbots. Instead, banks must offer high-touch customer assistance for less ordinary inquiries via clear and simple ways to connect for service.
Two alternatives: one-click access for authenticated app users to connect with a live customer service agent without re-authentication through interactive voice response, or offering two-way communication in-app for near real time customer assistance which users can access later if necessary.
Making sure phone numbers for live agents are easy to find while shopping, opening accounts and within authenticated banking is also critical. Currently, only one-third of banks list a phone number for new-to-bank customers in the open account journey.
Growth Opportunities for Banks
In spite of all of the innovation in mobile banking, there are still some fundamental gaps in usability and customer experience. Basic elements such as displaying the customer’s saving account interest rate in the app or showing the account balances before and after a transfer without having to navigate to another screen are not widely available features. Other disparities include the lack of an adequate transaction history and the ability to search for transactions older than six months.
Also, some critical privacy and security features that personalize the mobile experience are still not widely available, such as enabling users to set marketing and privacy preferences and control card settings to block certain types of purchases and transactions. Today, only one in four bank apps enable users to set privacy preferences and only 30% allow users to set marketing/email preferences.
And, as touched on earlier, banks and credit unions should accelerate the availability of critical real-time notifications to flag low account balances and high-risk transactions. These notifications not only help mitigate overdraft fees and rejected payments, but they also engage users in helping to spot security vulnerabilities.
The journey for banks to evolve their mobile banking properties to match consumer expectations for personalized care has just begun. The key is to mix digital self-service for routine questions and account management with human support and expert guidance for more complex or nuanced issues and for identifying new financial solutions.