By Kelly Street

It’s a question we used to answer easily: When was the last time you visited your bank? More and more, people need a moment to think about it. Visiting the bank a few times a week was commonplace not long ago. Today, as people more frequently choose digital channels to check their balance, make a deposit and complete other banking-related tasks, visits to a physical branch are less frequent.

In fact, according to a 2019 Fiserv survey, mobile banking via smartphone, tablet or wearable is the preferred method of interaction for 22 percent of consumers, up from 17 percent the previous year. This shift has left many banks with the challenge of delivering personalized services and growing customer loyalty without the benefit of face-to-face interactions for relationship building.

To address this head on, leading banks are putting strong focus on building a mobile-first culture, customizing their mobile offerings and becoming their customers’ trusted financial adviser.

Build a mobile mindset

Your organization needs to have a strong internal digital foundation before you can effectively present solutions to customers. Establishing a digital culture starts with your staff. For them to effectively promote and discuss your mobile capabilities with customers, they must first be comfortable with the technology. This will help ensure your entire organization is on board with the digital shift and are open-minded to the evolving mobile landscape.

Setting staff up for success starts with training. Encouraging the use of mobile banking capabilities by frontline staff will create an atmosphere where such offerings become second nature, reflecting positively in day-to-day operations. Here are some specific steps to build and enhance a mobile mindset.

  • Encourage branch staff to actively use your bank’s mobile banking app. They won’t discuss the app and promote it to customers unless they are comfortable using it themselves. As they use the app more, they’ll have more natural, confident and well-informed conversations with your customers, which are always the most effective.
  • Identify a “digital superhero” in each branch. You know them: they do everything via their mobile device from banking to ordering food to streaming movies. Tap into their mobile enthusiasm and digital expertise to help bring others along the mobile journey. Work with your digital expert to build – and measure – goals around ensuring frontline staff are trained and up-to-date on new releases and new technology
  • Incentivize. Set mobile adoption goals for staff and ensure they are constantly promoting the mobile channel in their customer conversations. Keep the momentum by making sure they are incentivized, rewarded or otherwise recognized for their success based on the agreed-upon goals established.

Customize mobile offerings

No two customer bases are the same. While mobile offerings should always be robust and user-friendly, they must also reflect your customers’ unique preferences. So how do we know what they’re thinking and what they want in a digital experience?

“Knowledge is power,” as the saying goes, and that’s especially true when determining which mobile offerings will resonate with your customers. By understanding your mobile users’ behaviors, preferences and activities, you can build a customer experience that will keep them returning to your mobile channels.

The biggest challenge with mobile-first customers is determining how best to build a relationship through technology. It starts like any meaningful relationship—with a conversation. Here’s how to start one.

  • Use social media channels for targeted engagement and encourage two-way communications. Proactively share key offerings and their benefits in a way that aligns with how your social community engages. In return, ask them to comment and share so you can listen to their responses and understand what receives the most engagement.
  • Mobile-first consumers want to be heard—making app ratings vital. You should be continually soliciting positive reviews and replying to any negative ones. Ensure team members have the knowledge and authority to rectify issues quickly. Equally as important, be sure they also have the drive and personality to enthusiastically nurture these customer relationships. A good app rating is critical because it elevates your brand beyond the app.
  • Personalization is key. Using data to ensure your customers are moving through the lifecycle journey is table stakes in today’s evolving digital world. The real power comes in how you use that data to send targeted communications, such as emails, alerts or ATM messages, via the right channels. That flow will ensure your customers are getting the personalized experience they crave.

Be a trusted adviser

Consumers are turning to banks for more than transactions. They want a trusted adviser. In the analog past, customer relationships—and the opportunities to be that adviser—were developed in the branch. Increasingly, they are built through technology.

Being a trusted adviser is good for your customers and for your business. Consumers are more likely to refer others to institutions that teach them financial literacy, according to a study by Raddon, a Fiserv company. The same study also found that financially literate consumers are more profitable because they are credit-driven, and they use more products.

Informed by an understanding of customers, banks can serve up tailored recommendations and personalized help with financial literacy. How do you bring this to life?

  • Embed financial education programs first in your marketing plan and then throughout the digital banking experience. You can even go beyond mobile by providing live, on-campus financial health and educational seminars to college students or other targeted user groups. This shows you care about your customers and are personalizing their experience based on where they are in their financial journey.
  • Send targeted offers to customers, making the connection to how the capabilities you offer can help people in their everyday lives.

While brick and mortar branches aren’t going away any time soon, it’s more critical than ever for banks to develop internal and external digital engagement strategies to ensure their offerings are in line with customer preferences. Embracing a mobile mindset internally, offering an intuitive, customized mobile banking experience and providing the guidance customers need to remain financially healthy will help banks keep pace with consumer expectations and stay ahead of the competition.

Kelly Street is director of consumer marketing at Fiserv.

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