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Mobile Banking – Getting Customers Past Fear

Posted on  16 August 11  by 

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During my recent search for a new bank, I discovered that several banks now offer a mobile feature that allows customers to make deposits by taking a picture of an endorsed check and sending it to the bank using a smartphone banking app.

And that’s not all.

Banking customers can also use smartphones to pay bills, receive updates and take actions via text message, make transfers, and easily reach service reps.

And although the global mobile banking industry has doubled in recent years and is projected to reach 1.1 billion customers by 2015, sources point out that customers are still very reluctant to adopt mobile banking apps.

A Javelin Strategy & Research report outlines two specific reasons for this:

  1. customers don’t see the full value in these apps and
  2. they have concerns around information security.  (In fact, between 2009 and 2010, the number of customers who rated mobile banking apps as “unsafe” increased by 54%.)

Does this mean that mobile banking apps are doomed?  Not necessarily.  Banks just need to change the way they position apps to customers to ensure that they give customers what they want.  After all, it wasn’t so long ago that we doubted the staying power of online banking – but the 60% of consumers who now bank on the Web prove that self-service shifts are inevitable.

A few thoughts on how to engage customers in the shift to mobile banking:

  • Emphasize the app as a differentiating service channel.  CCC’s study of customer channel preferences demonstrates a rapid shift to self-service:  across the last 3-5 years, the percent of customers who use self-service has grown from 10% to more than 40%. It makes sense that self-service follows technological trends: first e-mail, then Web, then social media, now smartphones.  While some banks may wait for customers to gain confidence in mobile apps, true differentiators will proactively drive that confidence.
  • Target tech-savvy customers first. A recent McKinsey study found that consumers can be characterized into groups based on the types of digital experiences they prefer. “Digital media junkies” (mostly younger men) are 3 times more likely than their peers to embrace new technologies across digital channels.  Pointing these customers in the direction of the mobile app may therefore be a smart move.  CCC members, learn how Cisco used segmentation to align different customer types with distinct channels.
  • Proactively guide customers to the app. Customers may not realize how much value they can get from mobile app functionality.  To encourage use, guide customers to the app using e-mail messaging, targeted Web site language, or proactive mention by reps.  CCC members, read about best practices on guiding the customer experience in self-service channels.
  • Address customers’ privacy concerns.  Read Corey’s three recommendations on how to ensure information privacy in service interactions. Be transparent with customers. Provide clear information on how customer data is protected on smartphones and be proactive in addressing threats.
  • Allow customers to “experiment” with mobile banking before committing. Customers might not be willing to take the full plunge into mobile banking, but companies can benefit from offering varied mobile services, such as proactive text and e-mail alerts (reminding customers, for instance, when their balance is low), maps (allowing users to find nearby branches or ATMs), or streamlined customer service functionality (providing easy access to reps via text message, social media, etc.).

Though customers still have doubts about mobile banking, I would argue that its future is clear. Sixty percent of customers now embrace online banking via PCs and, as smartphone functionality evolves, it is inevitable that mobile banking will follow.  Successful service organizations can differentiate and gain customer loyalty by being proactive in driving this movement, not reacting when it’s too late.

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