How Financial Institutions Can Win the Hearts of Their Mobile Customers

By David Lione, Senior Enterprise Account Director, OpenMarket for Bank News

Mobile will play an increasingly critical role as financial institutions seek to redefine personal banking in the digital era. Javelin Strategy & Research predicts that by 2019, 52 percent of U.S. consumers – 126 million people – will receive email or text messages from their FIs. Rather than stress about losing quality client relationships to digitization, FIs should adapt and create new communication strategies to reach customers where and how they want to be reached – via mobile. Many FIs may be surprised to learn that mobile messaging actually allows for more communication and brand loyalty, not less.

Below are the key ways FIs should use mobile messaging to strengthen relationships with their customers.

Become a Day-to-Day Mobile Advisor

Although an increase in mobile messaging can mean a decrease in traditional in-person meetings between financial companies and their customers, it also brings an opportunity for FIs to become their customers’ financial watchdogs in a way that was never possible before. Imagine the powerful connection FIs can have with their clients if they can effectively stand behind their shoulders, giving them financial insights with the important information they want, and a sense of security that their money is being protected every day.

By using mobile messaging, FIs can – and should – initiate one-on-one conversations with their clients consistently, whether it’s to alert them of a suspicious charge on their account, provide tips on better interest rates, or send updates on their investments.

Technologies like machine–learning virtual assistants make this easier than ever for FIs. With virtual assistants, customers can have natural, back-and-forth text conversations where the assistant recognizes their questions and provides instant, intelligent responses. This provides convenient assistance for customers who would rather solve their problem by texting, as opposed to speaking to a customer service agent on the phone. Through valuable daily communication, FIs can increase engagement and build trust with their clients.

Let Customers Decide How They Want to Communicate

Customers have a wide range of preference when it comes to communication channels, and much of it depends on things like location, urgency, type of alert, and personal choice. Many people want a mix-and-match combination of texts, emails, and push notifications.

Email messages have the highest adoption rate and work well for less urgent updates that clients don’t want to receive via text. However, emails are passive and have a high risk of being ignored, overlooked, or deleted, which could be a concern in a critical situation like potential fraud. FIs should let consumers decide which alerts they want to shift away from email to a more direct communication channel, like texting or push notifications.

Push notifications are targeted toward app-savvy customers. However, they need to download the FI’s app to receive push notifications, and 57% of consumers don’t receive notifications from any smartphone apps at all. It’s an effective form of communication for some customers, but for many others it falls short. FIs should give customers the opportunity to download the app and receive push notifications, but people will keep using push only if it works for them.

When it comes to texting, 64% of millennial consumers prefer this method of contacting a company versus calling them. Another compelling statistic is that 90% of all texts are read within three minutes of receipt. Through text messages, FIs can feel confident that important alerts are being seen by their customers almost instantly. It should be noted that although consumers may want text alerts for the majority of their communication, especially for notifications like fraud alerts and large transactions, they may want email updates for less urgent information.

Whether clients are at home, at the mall, on the bus, or at work – their situations are constantly changing, and FIs must let them choose the combination of communication channels that best fits their lifestyles. Moreover, honoring your customer’s communications preference is more effective for encouraging them to interact with you when it’s needed or desired.

Personalize Communication to Specific Types of Customers

FIs have a lot of information on who their clients are, what their financial situation is, and what they’re looking for from their financial advisors. Based on the type of customer an FI is working with, it’s important to cater messages specifically to the respective needs of each person. Examples of different customer types as identified by Javelin include: Traditionalists, Moneyhawks®, and Emergents.

Traditionalists prefer old-school methods of banking, meaning face-to-face meetings and less digital communication. These customers are worried about the safety of digital banking, so FIs should use text messaging to reassure them of their accounts’ safety. This includes texts for two-factor authentication, fraud alerts, and account sign-in reminders.

Emergents are the opposite. As tech-savvy mobile users who grew up in the digital era, they are less concerned about security and care more about convenience. For these users, FIs can use texting to provide updates on gift card balances or when bills are due.

Moneyhawks have greater assets and regularly make large transactions, so they want to know the status of these transactions in real-time. With one-third of Moneyhawks wanting to receive fraud alerts via text, FIs should use this method to send notices for suspicious activity, transaction alerts, and account updates.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for a successful personal banking experience. However, if FIs provide daily value with the type of mobile communication clients want, they will win the hearts of customers and build long-term loyalty that will keep them coming back for all of their financial needs.

About the author: As a Senior Enterprise Account Director at OpenMarket, David Lione sells global messaging services to large enterprises in the financial services and logistics industries. He works with new and existing accounts to find ways in which SMS (text messaging) can be used to deliver a better customer experience and improve operational efficiencies.