Mobile platforms have the potential to truly revolutionize customer experiences in retail banking, provided that banks approach mobility in a structured way. Any movement on this front must have cross-channel consistency at its very core. While this objective can be appear to be overwhelming, but failure will often result in increased customer dissatisfaction -- something no bank can risk in this hyper-competitive environment.
As global economies try to emerge from the shadows of recession, what seems certain is the drop in consumer confidence and the general wane of optimism among global consumers. A 2011 Ernst & Young Global Consumer Banking Survey revealed that 44 percent of customers said their confidence in the banking industry had declined.
In this atmosphere of lower confidence, the customer experience can create a sustainable differentiator for retail banks. Around the globe all banks are attempting to retain and acquire customers, as well as win their confidence, since customer experience is controllable vs. extraneous factors, such as economy and government policy.
With so much discussion surrounding mobile banking, the biggest mistake banks can make is to rush into on-boarding a mobile channel without a strategic assessment, particularly in the context of customer experience and multi-channel integration.
A recent Forrester Customer Experience Index (CEI) report noted that it is increasingly difficult to please customers. 160 large North American brands were evaluated and only three percent had a CEI in the “Excellent” range. The banking industry had an average CEI of 70 and came in sixth out of 13 industries.
Critical to delivering a superior customer experience across all banking channels is the need to provide consistent sales and service transactions across branches, ATMs, online and call centers, while adopting and introducing mobile and social media features to the consumer.
So what are the key business components of a sound mobile banking strategy?
- Understanding mobile device capabilities: Factors such as mobile device features, real estate, technology components, roadmaps, market players and portability are all highly relevant and must be understood from a banking “possibilities” standpoint. This sets the tone and context for a grounded, yet forward-looking mobile strategy and will help decide on aspects such as “Triple play” (SMS, WAP and Mobile App.).
- Defining business drivers and the business case: This requires an outside-in view, wherein the bank understands its customer segments, customer preferences and competitive pressures in the context of mobility and channel integration. A clear business case and possible ROI scenarios need to be formalized to understand the real need and benefits of going mobile. Banks must be willing to wait it out to get the desired results – a myopic view of ROI will not work in mobile banking.
- Commitment to a larger customer experience strategy backed by a vision: A bank’s mobile strategy needs to be aligned with its overall multi-channel approach and customer experience philosophy. Mobility needs to be viewed as a strategic differentiator.
- Creation of an executable strategy: Identifying strategic themes supported by interlinked activities will help bridge the gap between mobile strategy and execution. For example, “highest degree of self-service” could be a mobile strategy theme and “all feasible information services to be offered via mobile” could be a linked activity.
- Agility & Flexibility: Banks that have developed a strategy and then taken an inordinate period of time to deliver it will find their plans becoming infeasible or antiquated in the wake of rapidly -changing customer preferences and technology innovation. The key is to inject a degree of agility and flexibility in mobile strategies.
- Innovate: For banks to be successful in mobility, they must embrace the culture of innovation. The opportunities arising from the mobile revolution are limitless. However, a manufacturer like Apple or Samsung can only provide the device – it’s up to banks to leverage the inherent capabilities of the device to drive customer value.
- Strengthen industry ties and leverage developments: The mobile banking ecosystem is significantly different from traditional banking models. It includes other participants such as payment networks, mobile-only banks, mobile network operators and device manufacturers and new generation of organizations like Google and Paypal. Banks must acknowledge this complex matrix and decide where they can partner.
Banks have several critical factors and components to consider as they develop and implement their evolving mobile channels. While this concept may seem daunting, the rapid adoption of mobile devices and the abundant possibilities associated with better servicing and retaining current customers and attracting new ones all suggest that most retail banks will continue to embrace mobility. Those that fail to understand the importance of cross-channel consistency do so at their own peril.
Sudarshan Palliakaranai is a senior solutions consultant for HCL Technologies.