How Banks Can Use “Free Text Messaging” to Deliver a Better Customer Experience

OpenMarket – September 29, 2015

Before I talk about the concept of convenient banking, let me tell you a story that happened to my friend recently. This story is so common that almost everyone must have either experienced it or observed it.

A week or so ago, my friend and I were spending the weekend on a hill station near Mumbai and were having a good time. After having our lunch, my friend realized that his wallet was missing. Hell broke loose. We retraced our paths and recreated the sequence of events multiple times, but the wallet was untraceable. My friend, understandably, was worried about the money in his wallet, but more importantly, he was more concerned about his credit card. After some time, when the wallet was not found, he decided to block his card.

OpenMarket SMS Short Messaging Service

Now the real story starts. My friend reached out to the call center of the bank, but he had to wait on hold for almost 12 minutes before he could reach a human voice. And, during this entire time, as every minute passed, his blood pressure seemed to increase rapidly. Finally, once his card was blocked, he was relieved and feeling a bit better.

Fast-forward to today. After this incident, the important question that entered my mind was, “what could this bank have done better to support common customer issues like this one?

Banks have many tools at their disposal to help with customer care. Here are a few of the pros and cons associated with each one:

  • Mobile apps – Banks provide apps so that customers can access banking services quickly. But, because a) we all face connectivity issues even in large cities (forget remote areas), and b) many people are still are apprehensive about doing banking through an app, this solution may take time before gaining broad acceptability.
  • Call centers – As in the story mentioned above, my friend contacted the call center of the bank for service. Unfortunately, there was a significant amount of wait time, at least from his perspective. So, what can be the remedy? Do banks recruit more people in their call centers in order to reduce the wait time? Maybe, yes. But is it a cost effective solution? Perhaps not.
  • SMS/Text messaging – Banks have traditionally offered a self-service solution called “SMS Banking” whereby a customer can access banking services by simply sending a text message. This solution is easy to use, but has a major bottleneck in the sense that a customer has to remember a keyword associated with each service. Do banks expect their customers to remember the keywords associated with each banking service? No. I bet that even bank employees may not know about the keywords.

So, the big question is, what can banks do to provide frequently-used banking services to their customers?

We at OpenMarket have come up with a solution for the above question. Our Free Text SMS Helpline bypasses the problems with today’s SMS Banking. This new solution is based on text messaging and can be extended to cover email. The solution allows your target audience to text their questions in free text format and complete their transactions; there is no need to remember any keyword.

If this service would have been available at my friend’s bank, here is what would have happened.

Customer – “Please block my credit card. It’s URGENT”

Bank – “Thank you for submitting your request. To authenticate this request, could you please provide the CVV of your credit card?”

Customer – “123”

Bank – “Thank you for providing the information. Your credit card has been blocked. The request# is 123456. Would you like to order a replacement card? If yes, please reply YES”

Customer – “YES please :)” (watch the usage of free text)

Bank – “Thank you for your request. We will mail your new card to your communication address in next 2 business days.”

Now, take a look again at the interaction. The entire communication would have taken less than a minute, and would have been immensely convenient to both the customers and the bank. In other words, this solution would have provided a better overall experience for customers and a cost savings to the bank.

If you would like to know more about this Free Text SMS Helpline, please contact us here. For more information on how financial services organizations are using mobile messaging, please download our recent white paper.

P.S. – on a separate note, we did tease our friend for ‘losing’ his wallet again at the time of payment 🙂


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