By Nikhil Govindaraj, VP of Products, Moxie

Nikhil Govindaraj
Nikhil Govindaraj

The entire world is obsessed with their mobile devices. In 2016, the number of smartphone users will pass 2 billion-more than a quarter of the global population.[1] Financial firms know that mobile engagement is now a necessity. But how to deliver a mobile experience that attracts and retains customers? We see five mobile trends for 2016 that firms can leverage to attract the growing army of consumers who are always on the lookout for a better mobile experience.

1. Mobile Devices Will Become Swiss Army Knives

Originally, we used mobile devices to make calls, play games and do a little research online. Today, they are the modern-day Swiss Army Knife, morphing into all sorts of useful tools for running our lives from wearable devices to monitor health to smart gadgets that manage our homes. Consumers now expect everything they do on a desktop computer or in a branch to be available to them on a mobile device. Consider that nearly 75% of 18-29 year old smartphone owners have used their phones in the last year to get health information, while 70% have used them for online banking or to look up job information.[2]

Next Steps: Financial firms have made strides, moving beyond account balance access to letting mobile users pay bills, transfer money and deposit checks. Don’t stop here. Continue to expand mobile offerings with the goal of “mobilizing” every service, including complex services like loan applications or stock trades, along with the ability to get information in lots of ways, such as from a specialist or through self-service.

Make sure every experience is mobile friendly. Don’t simply squish the desktop experience onto that little screen. Start from scratch to design an experience that is tailored to the mobile environment, leveraging unique capabilities like geolocation, cameras and fingerprint identification to streamline transactions.

2. Digital Communication Will Continue to Dominate

Forget the phone part of the mobile phone. Mobile users are now multi-tasking whirlwinds who prefer to communicate via digital channels like chat or text rather than call your 800 number. Digital communication channels will continue to dominate as new types of devices enter the market.

Next Steps: Offer every digital channel in a way that aligns with mobile users’ natural behaviors. For example, a chat window that transparently overlays the screen, keeping the webpage visible, is far better than a box that obscures the page. Using swipe can enhance mobile chat, allowing users to swipe a chat window to the side to minimize it. As more devices come online, examine how to leverage their unique capabilities, such as near field communications which could allow a smartphone and a banking kiosk to “talk” to one another.

3. The Online and In-Branch Experience Will Converge

No bank would build a shiny new branch and not staff it. Banks know that consumers expect a knowledgeable person is available every time they walk in the door. Mobile users now expect exactly the same quality of service on their devices as they see less and less difference between the online and in-branch experience.

Next Steps: Staff your online branch with people who are every bit as knowledgeable about your products and services as your physical branch representatives. Keep in mind that online customers do not limit themselves to typical branch hours, so 24×7 staffing is a must. That 3 am customer can be just as valuable as the 2 pm customer!

And staff for the right skills. Online staff need to be experts in digital channel usage and etiquette, such as chat and email agents who should be fast, accurate typists with good business writing skills. In addition, make sure your representatives have easy, quick access to relevant and contextual content during every step in a customer-facing conversation or process.

4. Improving the Customer Experience will Require Mobilized Employees

Every business knows that giving employees mobile devices can benefit the organization, boosting collaboration, communication and productivity. But mobile-enabling employees shouldn’t be just about operational efficiency gains. Employees will need to understand what the mobile experience is like for customers and be able to leverage mobile capabilities to deliver a better quality customer experience.

Next Steps: Focus on how mobile technology can create a stronger employee-customer relationship. Just recently, a major U.S. airline announced that it is buying 6000 iPhones for their service representatives at U.S. airports specifically to improve the service experience. At first, the reps will do basic tasks, like print boarding passes and baggage tags. Eventually, the apps will let airport staff check fliers in and rebook flights. Granted, the phones aren’t going to eliminate frustrating flight cancellations and delays, but they will enable employees to provide a level of one-on-one service that can resolve customer issues more quickly and more personally.

5. The Cloud will be the Path to Personalization at Scale

Digital disruptors, like Amazon and Uber, have conditioned consumers to expect a personalized experience. They now believe their banks should provide “just for me” service as well. This is not impossible given the fact that mobile devices generate unprecedented amounts of data which can be used to gain insights for personalization. The way to do this is to leverage the benefits of cloud computing to aggregate, integrate and analyze all the sources of data and deliver person-by-person, device-by-device experiences at scale.

 Next Steps: The cloud is a hard one for financial firms as it raises anxiety about security and privacy. But it’s not insurmountable. Given that their survival depends on how well they protect client data, cloud providers are dedicated to meeting every security certification and standard out there including ISO 27001, PCI DSS and others. Start the transition to the cloud with lower-risk applications, such as customer-facing digital communications like chat, email and web self -service before using the cloud for mobile loan applications. It’s a great way to begin delivering cloud-based apps to your mobile customers while reaping the benefits of the faster-time-to-market, flexibility and scalability the cloud offers.