Customers have recently stepped into the era of personalized services with apps built around their specific wants and needs. After Amazon, Netflix and Google pioneered customization of their offerings based on visitors’ past transaction history, consumers have grown to expect the same tailored experience from all other providers. Banks also tried to catch up with the idea of mass personalization and introduced their mobile banking apps that promised to be flexible and customer-oriented. But in practice mobile banking turned out to be rigid and one-size-fits-all. Why hasn’t this digital banking tend become a personalization enabler yet?
Why personalization hasn’t plateaued
There are various reasons to explain this gap. But one thing is true: banks try to go with the times by including all possible features in mobile banking apps, but all their efforts result in creating a “universal” app for everyone at once but for no one in particular. This approach is also supported by banks’ cost-oriented thinking to pack everything into one app, which also diminishes mobile banking capabilities. But if banks look at mobile banking from the marketing perspective, they will be able to reach another level of personalization.
Why look at mobile banking from the marketing perspective
The main idea behind thinking as a marketer is to shift the mobile banking functionality from “what do you want to do?” to “what can I do for you?” It means going beyond a mere display of available banking services and focusing on suggestions about the products and services that can enhance customers’ activities.
Generally, app personalization focuses on 2 core points: user experience and content. Both of them add convenience and ease of use but do it from different angles. Let’s take a look at a few practical ideas.
A great user experience is shaped by a combination of intuitive navigation and a well-thought app design, which can be achieved by providing the following features:
- Main screen enhancements. JPMorgan Chase’s mobile banking app, one of the most successful apps on the market, shows others a perfect example of the individual approach with a well-thought main screen design. For example, the app’s main screen can be chosen from 18 location-based home screen options, while there’s also the ability to apply various design colors and larger fonts. Besides, Spanish-speaking customers can make their further navigation easier by switching the language right from the log-in screen.
- How-to guides and a helpdesk button. With these features, customers can improve the overall quality and depth of use as well as consult a real person in case explanations in how-to guides seem unclear.
- Faster access to basic functions. Customers will appreciate time-saving features that include the ability to check the nearest ATM or a branch office without the need to log in.
Personalization of content starts with customer segmentation. For example, the Monitise and Cognizant research differentiates customers by age, income level and frequency of mobile banking usage. Taking into account different customer segments, banks can consider the following mobile banking options:
- Turning off certain features. According to the Episerver research, 1 in 5 customers claim that they feel overwhelmed by the amount of information in their financial applications. Thus, mobile banking should be flexible enough to allow customers choose the preferable functionality. E.g. cautious seniors or disinclined conservatives that use only basic mobile banking functionality will appreciate the ability to hide all unnecessary features that only distract their attention.
- Geo–fence based notifications. Since geo-fencing allows sending information to mobile users who enter a defined geographic area, banks can use this tool to personalize customer notifications. For example, when a person is passing by the bank’s branch, the mobile banking app can send a reminder to enter the branch to sign business documents, etc.
- Personal finance advisor. Using insights from BI systems, banks can recognize customers’ spending patterns and predict upcoming shorts or hitting of limits. For example, a customer with a low balance and upcoming bills might appreciate a personal overdraft offer from a bank with the ability to apply online using a mobile app.
- Appointment scheduling. For VIP customers that highly value their time, banks can offer the in-app scheduling function. With this feature, customers can do their branch-based banking without standing in a line.
General tip for successful personalization: Educate customers. Since most personalization features imply data sharing, banks should assure customers that all personal information will be protected from third-party usage. Otherwise, customers may not understand why a bank wants to use their calendars or contact lists pulled from the mobile phone.
Don’t be afraid to experiment
To find a balance between a one-size-fits-all app and app with a whole bunch of features, banks can go for several conceptually different mobile banking applications for different segments. For example, for busy customers banks can suggest an ascetic app with simple user interface and a few shortcuts; emotional spenders may like visually appealing design, gamification, etc. whereas financial nerds may prefer informative user interface and advanced functions.
eBay was one of the first brands that recognized the potential of meeting the needs of customer segments with several apps. For example, the company has different apps for fashion- and automotive-oriented segments. Taking into account that the mobile banking market is still relatively young, banks can also experiment with their own apps to see what works best for their customers.
The bottom line
According to Mapa’s 2016 Retail Banking Trends and Predictions research, designing customer-centric apps should be the main priority for banks. Thus, we can recommend banks to start focusing on user experience delivered by mobile banking apps in addition to their product and service offering. As long as banks focus on finding new ways to personalize their mobile banking, they have more chances to improve the overall customer experience.