Understanding what customers want from digital banking
The mobile money battleground is hot. From the likes of the O2 Wallet to Barclays Pingit, major names from across the retail, telecom, and banking sectors brought new products to market in 2012. Undoubtedly there will be many more in 2013. Consequently, the mobile money marketplace is becoming increasingly crowded, so providers must push the boundaries of innovation in customer experience to stay competitive.
It’s essential that any new mobile banking or payments product begins with the customer. To truly understand customer needs, Intelligent Environments reviewed most of the mobile and online banking applications in the market; analysing the benefits and faults of each to gain a balanced understanding of what is currently out there, and also the gaps in the current offerings that could be closed to provide superior customer experience.
What the customer really wants is almost always grounded in the most practical and useful features of a software application. In terms of mobile banking, it’s essential that the capabilities to check an account balance, look at recent transactions, and interact with the bank are easily available and a pleasure to use. Of course, the most important thing is that the customer is able to complete their transaction as easily and simply as possible.
As banking and payments go mobile, the time it takes for a user to complete a transaction must also decrease. The average user accesses their online bank account once per week, whereas the average mobile banking customer will access their account once per day. These mobile customers are not happy to wait for the information they need, they expect instant access to their account on demand. This expectation for performance puts immense pressure on mobile money solutions to process higher transaction volumes with faster response, and all this over the air whilst the customer is on the move.
Another critical non-functional aspect of the user experience is the security protecting users when they bank via their mobile device. Mobile security protocols are still very new, and therefore mobile app vulnerabilities and malware are not as well known to many developers. Bank grade security and encryption is a necessary component of any mobile financial services product, features largely invisible to the customer but nonetheless a key source of competitive differentiation for the banks.
The losses publicised in December’s Eurograbber PC to mobile malware highlight just how much consumer trust depends upon appropriate security protocols, and new technology enables banks to take these protocols to the next level. Biometric technology, for example, is being pioneered through the mobile device. Voiceprint uses the audio and computing features built into the smartphone to authenticate users more accurately and easily than having to remember and type in a password. Another example of improvements in both functionality and user experience is seen in transaction geotagging. Rather than simply seeing a list of transactions, the user is presented with a map of where the transactions occurred. This gives the user a richer experience in understanding their spending patterns, and could also be useful in helping to identify fraudulent transactions. For banks and other mobile money providers, these and many other innovations are now opportunities for competitive differentiation. The fact is that customers want improved access to their money, whether that be by tablet, computer or smartphone, and the providers that win will be the ones that get this right.
New entrants looking to make a splash in the mobile financial services arena will seek to deliver features that customers didn’t even realise were possible. Next generation features such as loyalty rewards or location based offers have become possible with the advent of mobile money. These added customer experience benefits are important to drive adoption – for example, the decision to use an app may well be swayed by the ability to access exclusive savings from a mobile payments app based upon the user’s location. Or take the QuickDeposit example already rolled-out by a number of banks in the US. Using the camera features built into the phone, customers can take a photo of a cheque they would like to deposit and pay in the funds without having to leave their home or post a deposit slip. Not only does this save the bank money in processing costs, it’s also incredibly convenient for the customer. This type of innovation keeps customers interested, happy and loyal.
Aside from the app design itself, it’s vital that help is offered to customers when difficulties arise. Poor customer support in call centres is a major source of dissatisfaction. This can be an area neglected by those developing mobile apps, who tend to pour investment into the mobile features rather than investing in the software or staff required for customer support. Innovation in mobile banking and payments must extend to the servicing of the customer as part of their overall user experience.
It’s essential that the user experience is integrated across all channels. With smartphone apps for banking and payments increasingly mirroring the services available via branches, ATMs or PCs, the customer should have a consistent and seamless experience across each channel. Call centre staff need a management console that enables them to offer a personal service – with technology, for example, that allows the agent to look at a customer’s smartphone screen via their console, so that they have exactly the same view of the app as the customer has at the other end of the phone.
In summary, future innovation will put improvements to the mobile customer experience at the centre of any successful mobile financial services application. It’s vital that those companies seeking to make a name in this increasingly crowded market make the most of technology to provide a truly innovative level of customer service, integrated across all of the multiple channels now used by today’s typical customer.