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The New Face of Mobile: Yes, It Should Have a Face

By: Kathy Strasser, Chief Operating Officer of IncredibleBank

Handhelds shouldn’t necessarily mean hands off. Mobile banking changes monthly, but the only thing that shouldn’t change is the need for human interaction.  

According to Forrester Research, “Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub but also the bridge to the physical world. That is why mobile will affect more than just your digital operations — it will transform your entire business.”

Of course, this is true, but what is most telling is that this conclusion by Forrester was published nearly seven years ago.

What is also true is that mobile in general, and mobile banking in particular, have opened our eyes to the transformation from kitchen table discussions about finances to discussions about mobile’s ability to standalone as a banking solution, and if consumers will stand for being alone in the banking relationship. The tables have turned, literally.

In other words, are we transforming without regard to our core beliefs of forming personal relationships?

At IncredibleBank, mobile banking stands at the forefront of what we do, but so does growing our customer’s entire financial relationship with us. Can the two be separated? Of course not. They should, and are, inseparable. And this is where banking has lost its way, even if it’s just a little bit.

In my view, the interplay between mobile banking and personage banking is defined by the 4Cs; that is, convenience, communication, commitment, and commerce. And all of these are mandated, governed, and directed by the expectations of our customers.

"Mobile has expanded our abilities to communicate, to drive deeper engagement with our customers, and to better understand the wonders of incremental selling "

Take for example the mandate of convenience, one of the primary drivers behind mobile banking. In a 2019 study of banking apps by J.D. Power, more than half of consumers used a banking app in the last three months of the survey; however, J.D. Power also reported that consumer satisfaction with banking apps has been declining. This does not mean there is trouble in paradise, or even paradise lost, but what it does mean is that the expectations are relentlessly high, and with that comes disappointment, and with disappointment, there will always be the need for human intervention. Back to personage banking.

Or put another way, back to the future.

The convenience of mobile banking is undeniable; it serves as a lifeline to people and businesses while at the same time proves to be a conduit to an entirely new audience reachable to community banks, like ours, who can now boast customers in all 50 states, and support our claim as being one of the first online community banks dating back to 2009. But being convenient also means being accessible, and still, for nearly 50 percent of the population, that means some form of human interaction.

Or take the case of communication. Mobile has expanded our abilities to communicate, to drive deeper engagement with our customers, and to better understand the wonders of incremental selling. Through push notifications, text messages, mobile couponing and offers, and customized targeting, we have cut a much wider communications swath than ever before, and mobile is the engine that drives it.

Or so it seems. At IncredibleBank, our successful concierge programs, which are a part of many of our service lines, work in tandem with mobile communications. If you need any type of assistance, you can bank on it, so to speak, because we know that the most effective communication is person-to-person, and we also know that the best way to upsell, cross-sell, or drive incremental sales, is not always through an app, but through applicable conversations.

After all, Forrester’s conclusion was that mobile was “the bridge to the physical world”, which, of course, is the world we experience, and that includes devices, humans, and everything else that makes us tick.

And one of those essential characteristics of what makes us tick is our desire for affinity, loyalty, and commitment; the third C in the roster of the 4Cs. Mobile banking has helped us build commitment, or put another way, our commitment to growing the entire financial relationship with our customers. We can communicate more frequently, we can message more personally, and we can respond more instantly. Nothing drives commitment more effectively than commitment, and mobile has helped us do just that.

But not entirely by itself. Our teams of Digital Ambassadors and Digital Product Managers, who study emerging markets and analyze important trends, have noticed a trend that has gained a lot more steam since the advent of mobile banking. Nothing says commitment like picking up the phone and calling a customer. Period. And that is what I think is transforming our business. Not just mobile banking and not just personage banking, but the balance of the two.

That is the balance that will drive commerce, the balance that allows us to broaden our scope, reach new buyer segments, and even change people’s lives. Mobile banking has provided us with opportunities that were never even imaginable at the turn of the century. The trifecta of convenience, communication, and commitment has entitled us to a payday of greater commerce, but it has also reminded us that for many, one size will never fit all.

As it has always been, long before mobile banking was a centerpiece to our operations, managing customer expectations is the final measurement of success. As we know from the J.D. Power research citing declining satisfaction with banking apps, this is more likely driven by the desire for more features and the expectations of what customers want as they peruse the estimated 255 billion apps in the world. You can bet your bottom dollar that the expectations are going to be high.

But here’s the thing. It is not just the race to add more features, more technology, greater flexibility, and the like. That is not the finish line. The finalists will be the banks who understand how to use mobile as the “bridge to the physical world”, who understand that what we are really talking about is a traditional ecosystem of two parts – the abiotic, or in this case, mobile banking, and the biotic, which are all the life forms that inhabit the ecosystem.

They cannot live without each other, and they should not. For IncredibleBank, that is the new face of mobile banking. And the fact that it has a face is what defines us.

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