Traditionally, the former was more difficult. With all the marketing noise and bombarding messages, getting a prospective customer to actually “listen” was arguably the greatest challenge of all.
However, I’m starting to think that keeping customers is becoming more difficult, or at least will become more difficult.
The reason: mobile apps.
It is outright easy for a consumer to embrace a new financial services provider. Install an app on our mobile phone and you are either a customer right then and there, or at least you are a good way toward that goal. But what happens next is more important to continuing that financial services relationship, and I am not sure enough FIs are thinking about that part of the game.
I’ve tried three new financial services over the last few months — Simple, Lemon and Starbucks’s mobile payments service — and I am amazed by the results. The only one that has become a part of my personal finance lifestyle has been … Starbucks.
Even I don’t fully understand why. I am not a Starbucks junkie — not by a long shot. In fact, I am fully aware of the premium I pay for a Starbucks coffee, and frankly I try to avoid it. So why is it that I am gravitating toward Starbucks in order to use my Starbucks mobile card?
I’ve identified four “sort of” reasons and one main reason:
- The Cool Factor. Damn, it’s cool to pay digitally. I just love the scan-and-go of it.
- The Instantaneous Aspect of It. I buy a coffee and I can literally watch it register on my iPhone. I love that. Why? I have no idea, but there is some satisfaction in literally seeing how my little old iPhone is working within the Starbucks payments system.
- The Loyalty Points. Have you seen how the Starbucks reward stars look on the iPhone? You must see it — even the look of the stars, which bounce around in a virtual cup, are fun to look at.
- The Defined Deliverable. I don’t have to wonder whether a particular store will take my electronic payment. With Starbucks, I know every single store will allow me to pay with my iPhone. This not only takes a question mark out of the equation, but it also removes a potentially stigmatizing episode. (“Oh, you don’t take Google Wallet? Here’s my American Express card, then.”)
But the main reason why I have embraced the Starbucks payment service: reloadability. This is the main, overwhelming shortcoming of Simple, for example. With the Simple, it is hard to add money to the Simple prepaid card. I’ve got to go to the Simple website, and even there it is not easy to figure out how to do it. (Simple is built to provide banking services, so ideally consumers would direct deposit their paychecks into their Simple account. I’m not doing that.) Lemon’s shortcoming is similar. But with Starbucks, I can add funds with two touches.
More thought needs to be put into the usage after becoming a customer. I have a Lemon account on my iPhone, and I loved the onboarding to Lemon — but now what? I have no idea what I am supposed to do with it. If you do, let me know. Reload me.