In today's hyper connected environment, mobile represents everything from SMS and email, to Web and social-all from the comfort of the consumer's palm. But as smartphones get smarter, banks and financial institutions across the globe must also beef up their brainpower as they work to expand their mobile offerings to meet the demands of the evolving customer.
As the banking landscape continues to shift from one-on-one teller interactions to self-service transactions, mobile provides users with on-the-go conveniences, such as online transfers and bill payments. Yet, while most banking customers are aware of these tools and use them regularly, said financial institutions must actively work to enhance these offerings and exceed expectations. According to Forrester Research, the number of mobile banking users will likely double over the next five years, reaching 108 million by 2017 in the U.S. alone. Thus, banks must assess their mobile maturity and take the necessary steps to increase engagement and build customer loyalty.
For most financial institutions, mobile applications occupy their primary strategic focus, for such tools drive productivity, streamlining the customer experience by putting the basic banking tools in the customer's hands. According to the Pew Research Center, 32 percent of U.S. customers currently bank using their mobile devices, and this number will only continue to grow. Thus, banks must make mobile conveniences, such as checking account balances, transferring funds, and paying bills, the norm, for said capabilities are quickly becoming commonplace and no longer pose the competitive advantage they once did.
However, as David Lloyd, CEO of IntelliResponse, highlights, banks should use these mobile applications to differentiate themselves through superior customer support. "Many banks have developed mobile apps that don't provide adequate mobile customer support," Lloyd says. "If customers have a question while looking through their statements or paying a bill, they need to leave the app to find the answer to their questions, either by calling the help center or going to the bank's website. One solution to this problem would be to offer customers the option of asking questions on their app using virtual agent technology. This can be done either though voice or text, and banks can present a virtual agent that is engaging to the customer and fits the brand's image."
While most banks and financial institutions remain at the beginning stages of their mobile strategies, introducing customers to the aforementioned tools to meet growing demand, most recognize that their mobile applications must evolve into mobile dashboards. This will allow customers to monitor and access all their personal information via the device of their choice. Mobile may currently act as an extension of the physical bank branch, but as self-service continues to grow, mobile will soon begin to replace the most common interactions and transactions as brick-and-mortar locations come to focus on more sensitive matters, such as personal loans, mortgages, and retirement funds.
Nationwide Brings Mobile Banking to the Customer's Side
When Nationwide (U.K. Division) revamped its online banking experience, the financial institution also recognized that, in order to remain the most trusted bank in its sector, the brand needed to develop its mobile offerings, as well. To advance its multichannel transformation strategy, Nationwide saw the opportunity to develop an application for its expanding customer base that would embrace both Android and iPhone users and enable the organization to deliver an improved customer experience to all members. Nationwide also felt it needed to shrink the gap between its channel strategy and those of its competitors, for other banks in the area were implementing cost-effective processes that moved low-value transactions to the self-service, mobile arena, allowing branches to focus their attention on higher-value transactions and sales.
Inevitably, Nationwide teamed with IBM Global Business Services to create an application that would capitalize on the bank's recent online banking transformation, thereby bringing customers a clean, simple interface that reflects the individual's needs. Employee engagement became the central element for success, as the program's pilot portal spanned the entire enterprise, providing all employees with insight into how customers really interact with the mobile banking app. Not only did these insights empower Nationwide to improve registration, log-on, and navigation within the app, but the program itself also built strong employee advocacy, enabling branch staff to promote the new service with genuine enthusiasm and pride.
Nationwide's mobile banking application now offers customers a clean, modern interface that provides easy access to statements, transfer services, payment options, and support facilities right in the palms of their hands. Upon its release, the app was trending as the number one finance application in the U.K. Apple App Store, peaking at number 21 on the list of top free apps. The application also earned a five-star rating after being downloaded more than 50,000 times within less than two weeks of its initial introduction. By gaining over 43,000 enrollments, Nationwide's member response clearly indicates the strong customer demand for mobile banking options and the overall benefits of investing in the customer.
Granite State Credit Union Embraces Mobile for Millennials
While Granite State Credit Union of New Hampshire offered online banking and bill payment, the organization understood that its current functionalities didn't meet the expectations of its 30,000 members. But, as the financial institution sought to improve its customer acquisition strategy to boost penetration into the millennial market, Granite State recognized the need to tap into today's emerging channels in order to attract this generation's attention and satisfy the demands of customers across all demographics. The credit union wanted to provide the digital banking solutions and enhanced features customers wanted most.
Working with Fiserv, Granite State introduced Mobiliti, thereby producing an application that puts financial information and transactional capabilities in the palm of each member's hand. Though Granite State's ultimate goal was to create tighter integration across channels in order to develop a consistent look and feel throughout the customer experience, its mobile initiative received special attention, for this channel resonates with the millennial set in particular. The credit union's app presents an experience in line with its online banking presence, allowing customers to access their account balances and complete transactions. Granite State also implemented Popmoney, which enables person-to-person payments, allowing customers to send and receive money from friends and family using their credit union account and the recipient's email address or mobile phone number. Though not currently mainstream, Granite State implemented this emerging technology in order attract younger members by satisfying millennial demand in the future.
By June 2013, member satisfaction jumped 4 percent among members who consider Granite State Credit Union as the preferred financial institution, while September 2013 saw 1,300 mobile banking sign-ons-more than 5 percent if its total registered online banking users. Such behaviors not only indicate its customers' satisfaction with the service, but also their eagerness to embrace the conveniences mobile has to offer and the increasing demand for such capabilities.