Banking on smartphones

When online banking first came on the scene it heralded a new era where customers could check their balance and pay their bills any time, day or night. A few banks integrated it immediately into their strategy, others felt compelled to set up a separate brand, as if they were afraid of it themselves. In the end it became a normal part of everyday life. But 24 hr banking is no longer enough.

Customers’ expectations are growing. They want to be able to access their accounts where ever they are and they expect help to be available at any given moment. And if they don’t get it, they tell all their friends there and then. The immediacy that the smartphone has given us all, has a lot to answer for.

According to Google, 35% of people that start managing their finances on a PC continue the activity on a smartphone or tablet. Whether it’s to clarify specific features of an account before signing up or to make a payment, there are three key aspects customers are looking for: speed, 24/7 availability and the right response – first time. Not providing any one of these can result in frustration and dissatisfaction for the customer, and the potential loss of custom.

Supporting customers as they move around from location to location and device to device isn’t easy if you treat them as separate interactions. But key lessons can be learnt from the past. Those financial institutions that integrated online banking immediately into their overall strategy were the most successful. They reinforced their brand, they retained customers that wanted to embrace technology and gained new ones that were looking for the services they wanted with a name they could trust.

The issue for banks now is how to integrate mobile banking as part of an overall strategy for remote banking and maintain a close relationship with the customer, even though they may never physically meet them.

Whilst online banking and mobile app interfaces have been designed to make managing an account as easy as possible for the user, the customer support provided such as FAQs, static searches and knowledge bases often falls short. FAQs are notorious for being out of date before they’ve even been launched, and search and knowledge bases are often not much better because they rely on the customer knowing the right terminology to bring up the desired answer. Transfer this type of support over to a smartphone with its, by comparison, minuscule screen and it’s easy to see why 40% of mobile banking users fail to find links or help for technical support.

However, by using natural language interaction (NLI) technology to resolve this issue, banks may find the answer.

NLI enables customers to ask their questions in their own words and receive the correct response. Whether the input is speech or text is immaterial to NLI, it’s the brains behind the input that interprets what the customer is asking and then takes the appropriate action. It might be as simple as providing an APR or something more complex such as setting up an account. NLI isn’t just clever because it understands the customer and knows the organisation’s business to provide the right answer; it’s intelligent because it remembers conversations across both time and device, just as if the customer has their own personal advisor with them all of the time.

According to AlixPartners 39% of consumers think that a mobile offering is an important consideration when choosing to switch banks and the advisory firm estimates that 50% of US consumers will be using mobile banking services by 2016. With a rapidly rising consumer interest in other areas such as digital wallets, financial institutions that sit on the sidelines and don’t integrate mobile whole heartedly into their remote banking customer service strategy will lose out in the end.

 

Originally posted on www.finextra.com

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