The Bold War

The Hard Cell

Mobile banking is no longer coming. It is already happening. Every major UK bank now offers a reasonable service for multiple platforms. Core online banking functionality has been replicated. Consumer adoption of the channel is high. Great job everyone, right? Unfortunately not...One of the consequences of all this growth is that mobile banking users are moving away from using traditional channels; channels that currently offer greater opportunity to cross-sell products and services. Because most banks offer little to no sales capability on their mobile banking service, a big sales gap is beginning to emerge. It’s time for banks to sort out their mobile sales strategy.

Consumers are using mobile banking services in record numbers for payments, shopping and financial management. Most banks have at least 10 per cent of their customers using mobile banking at least once month. It is quite common for some users to even log in once a day. This is an amazing shift. The number of interactions consumers are having with their bank has increased from once a week, for much of the last century, to once a day. Last year’s research report by Future Foundation, ‘Emerging Trends in Mobile Banking’ proves that payment and banking services are now an accepted and valued part of the mobile experience:

• 57% of users reported using mobile banking more in 2011 than in 2010
• Nearly 70% recommended, or will recommend this type of banking to others
• 85% think that mobile technology helps manage their money more efficiently
• 70% are interested in using their mobile to pay for goods and services.

All of this adoption was initially what the banks wanted.  Most banks based their mobile banking business cases on transaction migration.  To justify the spend they focused on the benefits of moving transactions out of higher cost channels.  It was the perfect win-win.  For consumers, mobile banking offered a new service they wanted.  For the bank, it was the perfect excuse to reduce head count in the branch and call centre.  What the business cases failed to calculate however, was the subsequent reduction in sales in these traditional channels.  When you migrate 10% of your traffic from one channel to another, you are not just migrating a transaction.  You are also migrating an opportunity to sell.  The problem with mobile banking apps today is that they don’t offer a capable sales engine.  This 10% is vanishing into thin air.  The traffic is moving but not the sale. 

To add to their woes most traffic has migrated from online banking to mobile banking.  One low cost channel to another, but more importantly, one sales rich channel to zero.  This is creating a major opportunity cost.  Furthermore most banks have implemented shiny new online sales platforms over the last 18 months.  A lot of these business cases were predicated on online banking growth which has started to plateau due to mobile.  New customers are skipping online and going straight to mobile banking.  Some banks were so focused on delivering sales in online banking that they completely ignored mobile banking from scope.  Not having mobile front of mind has resulted in platforms being designed in a way that makes it difficult to integrate into other channels.  Both of these areas are huge concerns and present obvious risks to bank revenue streams.

To counteract these challenges, banks need to move fast to formulate their mobile sales strategy. Projects that are still delivering sales tools should look to change request mobile into scope. Or create a plan for a subsequent phase. For banks with nothing planned, start now. If you don’t believe your existing sales engine is suited to mobile, bite the bullet, and look at other solutions. Make the tough decisions early to reap the rewards later. As always develop your strategy and targets in conjunction with the plans of the other distribution and communication channels. Mobile banking can not only fill the gap it has created, but it can generate incremental return. Here are four tips to help you on the way:

1. Make someone accountable

Assign someone to manage the initial stages of implementing your mobile sales strategy. Someone with a mobile advertising background would be recommended. They can sit either in the channel or the product team itself. Let them drive forward the capability and be a champion for its differences. Give time for the mechanics to mature and for the organisation to adjust. Once you’re comfortable, slowly transition the responsibility of the role onto the product managers themselves.

2. Treat it differently

Mobile banking needs to be treated as a channel with its own distinct sales strategy. Seeing the same offers, imagery or calls to action across channels is only going to dilute the message. Besides the smaller real estate, traditional and non-traditional channels are used by different customers and in different settings. Treat the ability to use a new communication channel as an opportunity to offer tailored messages to your mobile audience.

3. No trespassing allowed

Customers love the fact that their mobile banking service is less cluttered than its online equivalent. Don’t make the mistake of ruining all that design work by incorporating some tacky banner adds. Mobile marketing needs to be relevant and timely. It can’t intrude on the experience or take away from the customer completing their main task. Avoid interstitial banners between login and view accounts at all costs. This is what customers want direct access to 90 percent of the time.

4. More than capable

Use the capabilities of the device. All smartphones have geolocation capabilities that can be leveraged to promote relevant offers in the right environment. Push notifications are also a great tool. A push notification at the right time can be the perfect call to action for a cross-sell. Even the capability to integrate into the device calendar means that branch appointment bookings can be synced for customer convenience.

If implemented correctly mobile has the potential to deliver sales performance that far exceeds those seen in current channels. The rich capabilities on offer and the high frequency of customer interaction means it can become a product manager’s dream. Banks need to face up to the harsh reality. As most banks progress with delivering their second wave of mobile banking services, look for more to take the opportunity to deliver relevant and timely cross-sell messages. Mobile is not going to go away anytime soon. Invest in your architecture, design and technology appropriately and you can reap the rewards for many years to come.

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