Going Mobile While Staying Omnichannel

BAI Retail Delivery message: Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater as new age of mobile banking dawns.

 
 

Omnichannel is the new mobile, at least when it comes to dominating the conversation at one of the nation’s mainstays of financial services conferences.

While trade shows of late have seemed to focus on the mobile channel to the exclusion of traditional service delivery, presenters at the BAI Retail Delivery 2015 gathering this week in Las Vegas were stressing a broader vision.

A major theme emerging at the 3,000-attendee confab was that presenting the same experience — from the visuals of look and feel to making simple for the consumer the back-end gymnastics of completing an account application — is incumbent on all financial institutions that intend to survive and thrive going forward.

“You need to be great in all channels, including branches, ATMs, the contact center and on mobile, and on all devices. Technology is the great equalizer here,” says Lisa Simpson, chief operating officer at Air Academy Federal Credit Union ($491M, Colorado Springs, CO), one of about 100 credit unions in attendance at BAI this year.

Simpson was a panelist in a Tuesday morning session on digital banking for community financial institutions. She told the audience that while technology is a great leveler, it can also allow institutions like hers to maintain the personal touch that distinguishes credit unions.

“We do that, for instance, by offering live chat simply by touching a button on our mobile app,” she says. “That kind of service has always been our competitive advantage.”

That kind of service works because it hits an emotional button, a speaker in an earlier session noted. That was Elizabeth ErkenBrack, manager of global customer experience strategy and transformation for Western Union.

She notes that many of her company’s customers are people sending as much as 90% of their paychecks back home across oceans and other international borders. “There are a lot of emotions in those transactions,” she says. Treating customers with respect by using clear language, eliminating surprises, and generally keeping things as simple as possible are keys to customer loyalty and retention.

That goes for domestic affairs, too. ErkenBrack, an Ivy League-trained anthropologist who specializes in understanding human communications, notes her own experience in getting a mortgage. “Wells Fargo told me my money would be disappearing for a couple days during a wire transfer. That was really important for me to know. That was really smart of them to tell me that. It was very reassuring,” she says.

ErkenBrack says those same principles of consistency across delivery channels also are driving mobile app and other technology developments at Western Union, and she advised letting data do much of the driving.

“It all begins with a brand promise — ours is that Western Union is the easiest way to receive money when and where you need it — but you need to tie your metrics to that brand promise,” she says. Data diving is a good place to discern where. ErkenBrack pointed to Amazon as an example. The retail giant found that customer inquiries and complaints took off on day three after an order was placed, and thus was born Amazon’s two-day delivery policy.

“Look for those kinds of things in your data,” the Western Union executive says.

And, again, be consistent. For example, “keep your business rules the same regardless of the channel,” advises Simpson at AAFCU. “If you immediately release $500 of a $1,000 check and put the rest on a hold in the branch, do that with a mobile deposit, too.”

Another thing all this data show: “Mobile banking is entering its second phase,” says Robb Gaynor, founder and chief product officer of mobile app maker Malauzai Software Inc. “It’s now beyond simply just having mobile. It’s more about differentiation, and it’s about how it’s part of the whole omnichannel experience.”

Gaynor was a co-panelist with Simpson in the community banking session. He shared some data that showed that while mobile is part of the picture, it’s a big part and its growing. He says his company’s analysis of some 6.5 million logins by customer credit unions and community banks shows that more than 30% of mobile users no longer use Internet banking at all.

“They’re just using mobile,” he says. “We have about 300 clients live in the app stores today and they’re seeing a 2 to 3% growth in active users every month.”

Simpson says she sees that in her member base, which includes local school teachers and military people around the globe. “We expect to have more mobile bankers than online bankers in three years. Cash and checks will eventually be their last resort to move money, with mobile as the primary way they’ll do business with us. It’s taking place very quickly,” the AAFCU executive says. 

 

 
 

Oct. 13, 2015


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