Monday, March 31, 2014

10 Ways iBeacon Can Improve Banking Sales & Service

At a time when banks and credit unions are trying to improve the economics of branch banking, iBeacon could deliver a personalized digital sales experience as soon as the customer enters a branch office.

iBeacon, working in conjunction with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), can integrate the physical and mobile channels, enabling a bank's mobile app to deliver highly tailored digital promotions, coupons or offers directly to the consumer's smartphone when the customer is in the general vicinity of an office, at any specific location within an office or at an ATM.

There are already more than 200 million iBeacons in the form of phones in our pockets. Google has included BLE into the Android 4.3 and other recent phones. Apple has been including BLE in their devices since the iPhone 4, meaning that every iPhone from the past two years is an iBeacon in itself. More importantly, standalone low cost iBeacons ($40 - $100 each) can be placed in physical branch locations, linking the bank branch with consumers' smartphones.
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iBeacon technology is designed to deliver continuous content based on the precise location of a customer within a branch, allowing for highly relevant messaging or special offers on products to be sent to smartphone users at the exact time and place they are most useful. This immediacy is a big advantage over other technology like NFC or QR codes that are either less accurate or require additional steps by the customer.

In order for iBeacon to work in banking, customers must first install the mobile app of the bank they are visiting and opt-in for personalized promotional alerts. By providing the bank access, the bank could track activities performed both online and in the branch in the past to customize both mobile and in-person communication the moment they step inside the branch.

Consumer Acceptance of In-Store Alerts

While there is virtually no research on the acceptance of in-store alerts by financial institutions due to the current lack of use by banks, there is positive response from consumers when in-store alerts are used by retailers. According to a study of 1,000 smartphone users commissioned by Swirl, 67 percent of consumers reported having received shopping-related push notifications on their smartphones during the previous six months. Of those, 81percent said they read or opened these alerts most of the time, and 79 percent made a purchase as a result.

The research also found that the alerts delivered must be both relevant and valuable from the customer's perspective. When asked what caused them to ignore mobile push notifications;

  • 41 percent said they were not relevant to their interests or location
  • 37 percent stated the offers did not provide enough value
  • 16 percent fount the alerts to be annoying
  • 6 percent did not opt-in to receive the notifications
It is clear that the lessons learned in the retail world apply also to the world of banking. While iBeacon technology can provide the power to deliver highly relevant digital content and offers personalized to the customers' location and banking relationship, the use of these alerts must be used judiciously. 

In both retail and banking, privacy remains an ongoing concern for consumers, especially when disclosing their smartphone's location. The good news is that 77 percent of consumers said they would be willing to share their location information, as long as they received enough value in return. An opt-in process helps to establish this trust and consent.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

How to Become Your Customers' Everyday Bank

Banks have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the vast amounts of customer insight they hold to go beyond simply facilitating payments. They can reinvent themselves as an Everyday Bank, helping customers reach decisions about what to buy, when and where to purchase, and even helping to negotiate the best deals in a ubiquitous format.

Non-banks are capturing more and more of the banking value chain, providing services such as payments, checking and even savings accounts that could erode as much as one-third of traditional bank revenues by 2020 according to Accenture. These new entrants pose a threat to banks by raising service expectations and coming between banks and their customers.

According to a new report from Accenture, entitled "The Everyday Bank," the response is not just about closing branches, improving online and mobile banking offerings or making current products and services "more digital." Instead, banks need to move further into the daily lives of customers, providing assistance before, during and after the financial transaction.

Customer behaviors and expectations are quickly adjusting to a world where products and services are recommended based on past behaviors and where location-based offers are provided instantaneously on their mobile device. Customers want information to be fingertip-ready. 

The Everyday Bank

Subscribe Today According to Accenture, an Everyday Bank leverages the vast amount of insight it possesses to become central to a customer's financial and non-financial digital ecosystem. The Everyday Bank reinvents itself as a value aggregator, advice provider and access facilitator, acting proactively on the customer's behalf, improving reputation and trust. 

An Everyday Bank drives continuous daily interaction by building partnerships and connections with provider partners who offer goods and services in every area of area of consumption, including retail, home services, health and security, travel and leisure, communication and transportation. By tapping its wealth of transactional data, without ever sharing analytic information outside of its four walls, the bank reaches out to the right third-party providers and other key players to build a digital customer experience combining mobile, big data, analytics, digital marketing coupling, ticketing capabilities (at ATMs?) and more.

The Everyday Bank uses its digital engine to automate front- and back-office processes to optimize for speed, efficiency and scalability. According to Accenture, a highly functioning Everyday Bank can:
  • Slash back-office effort by as much as 80 percent
  • Reduce its managed applications portfolio by 70 percent
  • Cut time to market by 40-50 percent
  • Increase operating income by 25-30 percent
In a real-life example, an Everyday Bank has the rich customer data to know when a customer may want to purchase a car (based on the age of current vehicle, family structure, etc.). After offering the customer assistance if they agree that a car purchase is in order, the bank can recommend vehicle models that might fit their lifestyle, personal preferences and budget. 

Next, because the bank is in a position to negotiate thousands of car deals on behalf of their customers, they can get a price that meets both the customer's and dealers needs. After bundling in insurance and any other after-market products, the bank then recommends a payment plan that is best for the customer.

According to Accenture, the five critical elements of an Everyday Bank include:
  1. Provides services that are digitally optimized across a variety of platforms
  2. An omnichannel approach
  3. Uses big data and predictive analytics to help anticipate customer financial and non-financial needs
  4. Offers a human touch for high value interactions
  5. Is attuned to their customers' moments of truth
The Everyday Bank also brings pricing transparency, trusted advice, social recommendations and transactions - as easy as one click.
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Monday, March 24, 2014

Omnichannel Banking: More Than a Buzzword

As customers continue to change their channel usage patterns, banks and credit unions must focus on delivering a consistent and seamless experience across various touch points. More than just a buzzword, omnichannel banking is an opportunity to deliver bottom line results by gaining insight into customer's channel preferences and behavior.

Today's customers are becoming highly sophisticated and are accustomed to receiving seamless service and targeted offers from companies like Amazon regardless of the device in use. So, it should come as no surprise that these same customers are beginning to expect similar experiences from their banking partner(s). From researching new services, to opening an account, checking balances, conducting transactions or getting customer support, delivering an omnichannel experience has become table stakes in a highly competitive marketplace.

The Importance of Omnichannel Banking

Banks are in an unequalled position to understand their customers. They already can see product use, transaction patterns and demographic profiles. By leveraging channel usage insight, they can develop an even more detailed customer profile. Understanding not only what the customer looks like, but also how they conduct their banking can allow for improved product offers using their preferred channel.

Developing strategies to integrate disparate digital and physical channels into a single, seamless experience has to be a priority. By analyzing the activity and preferences of their client base, banks can tailor offerings to address the priorities of each individual customer. Mass, low profit segments can be serviced accordingly as can high margin services and clientele.

Streamlined, integrated systems, a single customer view and an optimal customer experience are all objectives to work towards. Banks that focus on these objectives will get the edge over the competition.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Retail Bankers Unprepared For The Future

At a time when powerful forces are disrupting the retail banking industry, financial services executives agree that a transformation of the banking landscape is inevitable. Unfortunately, while they agree on the priorities that are integral to success in 2020, fewer than 20 percent feel prepared to address these priorities.

In a survey of 560 executives from leading financial institutions across 17 markets entitled, "Retail Banking 2020: Evolution or Revolution," PwC  found that 90 percent of financial services executives agree on the priorities that are the foundation for success in 2020, yet only a fifth (20 percent) feel well-prepared to address these priorities despite the fact that nearly all (96 percent) believe that a fundamental transformation of the banking industry is inevitable.

"Growth remains elusive, costs are proving hard to contain, returns remain stubbornly low and regulation is impacting business models and economics," said John Garvey, U.S. banking and capital markets leader at PwC. "Simultaneously, the evolution of technology and heightened customer expectations combined with the emergence of disruptive competitors creates new pressure to deliver higher levels of service at a time when value and trust in the sector is at an all-time low. Surviving and succeeding in this environment may require a fundamental rethink in approach."

Today's Challenges

The impact of growing and changing regulations is the primary challenge for retail banks in the U.S. (47 percent) and Europe (40 percent), where banks are trying to stop seeing regulations as a burden and hoping to weave compliance into the fabric of their operations.

In the U.S., attracting new customers (35 percent) and increasing profitability (33 percent) ranked second and third respectively, aligning with the hierarchy of investment priorities (56 percent regulatory compliance, 46 percent enhancing customer service and 30 percent implementing new technology).

Source: PwC Banking 2020 Survey
Nearly all respondents (97 percent) view innovation as a critical driver of growth – with companies who consider themselves innovative predicting 62 percent growth over the next five years, nearly double the market average of 35 percent and triple the 21 percent for the least innovative companies.

Despite understanding the importance, only 10% of CEOs view their organizations as innovation leaders. Further, 64% of CEOs agree that neither innovation nor operational effectiveness are dominant – and are looking to succeed at both.

PwC believes executives recognize they need to do things differently. According to the study, over 50% are planning to enhance their internal capabilities to foster innovation, and to create innovation management teams across business units. There is also a recognition that partnerships and third-party relationships may be the best way for banks to reap the benefits of innovation.

In the U.S., the primary areas mentioned for innovation were products (43 percent), customer interfaces/channels (60 percent), core platforms (50 percent) and customer need identifications (40 percent).

Finally, nearly three quarters (71 percent) of U.S. retail banking executives consider non-traditional competitors a threat, significantly higher than executives in Asia (42 percent), where more view them as an opportunity for partnering.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

Bank Switching Increases As Consumers Look For Better Mobile Capabilities

After a period of relative stability, the primary bank switching rate increased by more than 40 percent in late 2013, with 60 percent of smartphone/tablet users reporting mobile banking capabilities as being either "important" or "extremely important" in their decision to switch.

After relatively stable switching rates since the financial crisis, the number of consumers switching primary banks jumped from 7.1% in the first half of 2013 to 10% in the fourth quarter of 2013 according to the "Mobile Financial Services Tracking Study" from AlixPartners. This is the highest rate of switching since the end of 2008.

The highest incidence of primary bank switching was evident among millennials, where the annual switch rate approached 20 percent. The rate of switching quickly drops for older segments of the population, with baby boomers and seniors switching primary banks at low single figure annual rates. 

% Who Switch Primary Bank in Past Year
Source: AlixPartners (March, 2014)

% Who Switched Primary Banks in Past Year by Age
Source: AlixPartners (March, 2014)

Among younger consumers, technology and innovation was of greatest importance, with the reasons for switching primary banks including:
  • "My previous bank didn't offer the level of technology/innovation that I wanted"
  • "My previous bank didn't offer the online services that I needed"
  • "My previous bank didn't offer the mobile services that I needed"
For older consumers, the primary reasons for switching were because of a bad customer experience or because of a move, new job, etc.

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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Millennials Find Banks Irrelevant

A three-year study from Scratch, an in-house unit of Viacom, found that a third of millennials believed they won't need a bank in the future. These millennials, defined as those between ages 18 to 33, also ranked the top four banks in the "ten least loved brands" and would rather go to the dentist than to their bank.

Is this surprising? This segment of the population has grown up in an era that saw trust in banking erode due to the financial crisis and a near stagnant economy. This is also a period when new technology has enabled firms like Simple, Moven, Square and PayPal to be more relevant with a generation that would rather handle finances on their phone than in a branch.

Here are some of the findings from the Millennial Disruption Index:

  • 53% don't think their bank offers anything different than other banks
  • 1 in 3 say they are switching banks in the next 90 days
  • 71% would rather go to the dentist than listen to what their banks are saying
  • 33% believe they won't need a bank at all in the future
  • Nearly half are looking for tech start-ups to overhaul banking
  • 73% would be more excited about a new offering from Google, Amazon, Apple, Paypal or Square than from their own bank
These beliefs are coming from the largest generation in the U.S. (84 millions) with a new found purchasing power of over $1.3 trillion that represent the vast majority of new home buyers. They are far more tech savvy than previous generations, use their mobile devices continuously, look for deals in every buying category and are connected through multiple social networks.

According to the TD Bank Financial Education Survey, many millennials look to their parents and friends for advice on financial services and many still rely on their banks. Ninety percent use online or mobile tools for everyday banking activities, with 57 percent saying they used mobile banking more frequently than last year.

It is clear, however, that banks are having a difficult time keeping up with the needs of this segment. While banks spent time improving the online banking experience, millennials had already moved to mobile devices for communication, transacting, entertainment and information. The industry's response, for the most part, has been to provide mobile access to online banking platforms. Only banks built for the mobile device like Simple, Moven, GoBank, Fidor, mBank, Soon and Hello seem to see the future.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

9 Secrets to Building Customer Engagement in Banking

Virtually every bank and credit union has the acquisition of new customers as a top priority for 2014. But generating a new account is only the beginning. To generate near-term profitability and long-term relationships, the new customer must become fully engaged. 

Customer engagement can not be achieved in a day, week or a month. It is the foundation of a relationship that includes trust, dialogue, a steady growth in service ownership and a growth in share of wallet if done correctly. The alternative to focusing on building customer engagement is a relationship that does not meet its full potential or customer attrition.

According to Gallup research entitled, The Financial and Emotional Benefits of Fully Engaged Bank Customers, the tangible benefits of a fully engaged customer that is both attitudinally loyal and emotionally attached to the bank include the following:
  • Increased Revenues, Wallet Share and Product Penetration: Customers who are fully engaged bring $402 in additional revenue per year to their primary bank compared with those who are actively disengaged, 10% greater wallet share in deposit balances and 14% greater wallet share in investments. Fully engaged customers also average 1.14 additional product categories with their primary bank than do customers who are 'actively disengaged'.
Source: Gallup (2014)
  • Greater Purchase Intent and Consideration: An engaged customer not only holds more accounts at their primary bank, they also look to that same bank when considering future needs. At a time when so much of the shopping process is done online, improving your bank's chances of being in the customer's consideration set is important.
  • Becoming a Financial Partner: Less tangible, but no less important, the Gallup research showed that an engaged customer builds a bond with their bank or credit union that every financial institution would covet. According to the research 54 percent of engaged customers strongly agree that their bank helps their financial dreams come true and a similar percentage believe their bank makes their life more enjoyable. Most importantly, 71 percent of engaged customers say they will use their current bank for the rest of their life.
Here are the secrets to setting the foundation for strong customer engagement:

1. Improve Acquisition Targeting

Customer engagement begins before a new customer even opens an account. With today's depth of data and processing capability, it is possible to find new prospects that are similar to the best customers who already have accounts at a financial institution. By building acquisition models that look at product usage, financial behavior and relationship profitability, opening accounts that have limited potential for engagement or growth is reduced.

Beyond demographic, financial behavior and product use modeling, geographic modeling is also important since the strongest potential trade areas are not always clearly defined by branch radius mapping. 

2. Change the Conversation

One of the key elements of building an engaged customer relationship begins with the conversation during the initial account opening process. To build trust, the conversation must focus on making sure the customer believes that you are genuinely interested in getting to know them, are willing to look out for them and that, over time, you will reward them for their business/loyalty.

This early conversation needs to focus more on capturing insight from the customer and discussing the value different products and services will have from the customer perspective as opposed to simply discussing features. The goal is to illustrate to the customer that the products and services being sold will meet their unique financial and non-financial needs. 

Some of the insight that should be collected (beyond the basics) includes:
  • Financial objectives
  • Primary financial decision maker in the household (it is often the wife)
  • Communication channel preference(s) 
  • Accounts held elsewhere (balance details are not as important as knowing the category)
Unfortunately, research studies indicate that the majority of branch personnel have difficulty having in-depth conversations with customers around needs and the value of an organization's services. In other words, having a firm grasp of product knowledge is no longer enough. The initial focus should also be on sales quality as opposed to sales quantity. 

Interestingly, some financial institutions have begun utilizing iPads to collect insight directly from the customer. While seeming less personal, an iPad new account questionnaire standardizes the collection process and usually is able to collect far more personal information than the bank or credit union employee is comfortable collecting.

3.  Communicate Early and Often

It is interesting how banks and credit unions set objectives for expanding a customer relationship and engagement and then establish arbitrary rules around communication frequency and cadence. It is not uncommon for a bank to limit the number of 'touches' to one a month or less despite the fact that a new customer has been shown to desire significantly more interaction as part of their new 

In fact, research from J.D. Power has found that the optimum number of communication messages during the first 90 day period from both a customer satisfaction and relationship growth perspective is seven 'touches' across various communication channels.

An example of an onboarding engagement communications plan is shown below. The contacts below don't include additional media such as online and mobile banking messaging, ATM messaging, digital retargeting, etc. It is important to remember that at the very least, an engagement communications plan should include a 'thank you' message within the first 5 days of the account opening (from either as new or existing customer).

FocusMessages SentEmailMobile
Day 1Welcome
& Activation
Welcome Kit
Preapproved Offer
Email CaptureMobile Capture
Day 2Thank YouWelcome EmailWelcome Text
Day 5UtilizationNew Account Follow-Up
'Go With' Service Discussion
Alert Notification
Alert Notification
& Engagement
Branch Phone Check-In
Engagement Letter
Engagement Email
(Direct Deposit/Online BillPay)
Engagement Text
(Direct Deposit)
& Engagement
Engagement Call
Day 30
Engagement Email
Day 45
Utilization Email
Engagement Text
(Mobile Deposit) 
Call Center
Relationship Expansion
Modeled Engagement
Service Email
Engagement Text
Rewards Offer 
Cross-SellCall Center
Relationship Expansions
Modeled Service
Modeled Service

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