How a Great App Can Help Your Bank Achieve Its Customer Service Goals

Banks continue to report that enhancing customer service is their number one priority. Dan Weis, Mobile Product Leader at NCR Corporation explains how a feature-rich app can help accomplish this goal.

Women using a banking app on her mobile phone

There was a time when you could walk into a bank and tell the size of its budget based on look and feel alone. Mega-banks would have luxuriously decorated spaces, whereas locally owned branches may not have been as elegantly styled but made up for it with “know your first name” customer service.

Today, this line has completely blurred – every bank, no matter how big or small, knows not only your name but also your personal preferences, thanks to automation.

And while smaller banks still may not have the budget to roll out the latest technology on a large scale, their mobile customer experience often feels similar to something that a larger bank may offer. In fact, most of the top-rated mobile banking apps are from credit unions. Eastman Credit Union, a regional enterprise in Tennessee, claimed the top spot on last year’s MagnifyMoney “best banking apps” list. It even has an Apple Watch offering.

So, have apps leveled the customer service playing field in retail finance? Banks continue to report that enhancing customer service is their number one investment priority.

How can app functionality help accomplish this goal?

Make It Personal

Just as knowing a customer’s name in a branch setting can make them feel special, your app needs to do the same. The ability to personalize an app makes users feel more connected to your brand, while also making life easier. For example, Barclays allows customers to assign a different profile photo for each account to help more easily distinguish between them.

Marketing automation provider Marketo recommends that you take advantage of the data already at your fingertips (such as a user’s location, open frequency, time spent in the app, and features used) to provide personalized messaging that links to different places within the app, serving relevant, useful content to your customer, which can result in greater user loyalty and retention.

Focus on Functionality

This may seem like a no-brainer, but have you ever downloaded an app only to question what value it provides? Don’t rush to put out an app just for the sake of saying that you have one. The functionality needs to be robust enough to provide a positive customer experience. Specifically, you should focus on the following:

  • Speed matters: While you have no control over users’ network speed, you can manage how quickly they can find the info they need at a glance, without having to swipe or hunt through nested menus. Be sure that your interface is clean and easy to navigate.
  • Money transfer capabilities: Being able to move money between accounts or make payments should be a minimum requirement of any app. To make this as easy as possible, some apps have enabled users to send money to contacts using just their phone number.
  • Mobile deposit: Check use may be declining in some countries, but it’s still an important payment method for many people. So the ability to deposit a check via mobile is vital. In fact, a reliable and easy to use offering of this functionality helped Eastman Credit Union claim the number one spot.

Peace of Mind Matters

Just as customers who feel safe and looked-after in a branch setting will keep coming in, they will keep logging into an app that provides the same sense of security. This means that you should be thinking through:

  • Alerts and notifications: The ability for an app to send an alert (for example, when the account’s balance drops below a preset amount) can be highly valuable when it comes to helping people manage their finances. But alerts can go both ways. The ability to use the app to notify the bank of a lost or stolen card is another valuable feature that makes customers feel like their bank is looking out for them.
  • Simplified security: User authentication is a vital security step for any mobile banking app but it doesn’t have to be a tedious process. With a growing number of phones offering biometric tools, support for solutions like Apple’s Touch ID is now a must.

While many banks have already done a thorough job of thinking through the above, they have made less progress in integrating their app with the rest of their operations.

The Boston Consulting Group states that more banks need to adopt a journey mindset. This means that you should be considering what the customer’s path looks like and providing them with the information they need to take the next step before they even recognize what the next step may be. Keep in mind the following:

  • Context matters: Effective mobile banking apps offer customers contextually relevant information. For example, if your customer is at a car dealership, you could provide the latest auto loan rates. You can further take advantage of GPS functionality by using beacons to automatically check the customer in when they arrive at a branch location.
  • Moving between channels: Apps can’t work in isolation. Connecting with other channels such as social media or phone banking from within the app also make users’ lives easier. Being able to call a representative from within the app and seeing an estimated wait time, or withdrawing cash from ATMs through an app, helps create a more connected omni-channel banking experience.

No bank’s customer service strategy can afford to omit a mobile app anymore. But developing one requires a strategic mindset and true dedication to enriching the customer experience. This is increasingly important in an era where customers can complete more functions autonomously and have less frequent interactions with customer service reps.

By offering a feature-rich app that provides a seamless experience, banks big and small can continue to deliver excellent customer service, further driving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

About the Author

Dan Weis works at NCR leading the retail banking mobile app team. The mobile apps are used by nearly 5.5 million consumers.

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