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Embrace mobile and social to enhance customer experience

Get moving or mobile web-quipped social users will leave you behind

Embrace mobile and social to enhance customer experience

Social media and mobile technology are powerful tools for consumers seeking to take greater control over their shopping, and buying, experiences. In the age of the customer, consumer need--and personalized solutions--become more important than ever. Consumers can use social media to crowd source solutions, drawing on the wisdom of the crowd to find the best products and pricing. Mobile enables the consumer to take their search to the streets, literally.

Mobile today, more mobile tomorrow

Based on increased consumer adoption of smartphones and continually expanding capabilities, mobile currently represents one of the greatest opportunities for banks looking to boost revenues and improve the customer experience. Advancements in mobile technology now allow consumers to carry internet access with them anywhere they go, which has resulted in a smarter, more social consumer.

In a 2013 report, The State Of North American Digital And Multichannel Banking 2013, Forrester Research estimates that more than 61 million mobile phone owners will have adopted mobile banking by the end of 2013, and by 2017 the number of mobile banking users will have jumped to more than 108 million. With the introduction of more advanced smartphones and tablets and the resulting shift in the way customers can interact with the companies they do business with, what does this mean for banks?

It means that today's consumers expect companies to be able to cater to their needs anytime, anywhere. It also heightens the imperative for banks to evolve from marketing to broadly-defined target segments, to engagement-based marketing that provides a tailored offer to the right customer, at the right time, and in the right place. The view of the not-too-distant future includes serving up a customized offer at the bank branch, that perhaps has different characteristics at the ATM, and differs yet again from what is presented via a mobile app.

Bottom line: Multichannel marketing is about to get a lot more interesting. So where do banks begin?

Mobile in action vs. mobile inaction

Knowing that mobile usage is continuing to grow daily, banks should focus on capitalizing on the latest capabilities now rather than sitting on the sidelines. However, banks need to map out how mobile will impact customer experiences before moving forward.

In a 2012 report titled Seizing the Mobility Momentum, PricewaterhouseCoopers outlines specific areas related to the customer experience that mobile can improve upon for financial institutions. Two key areas include:

1. Location-based services

A key enhancement for today's mobile devices is the use of GPS technology, which can pinpoint the exact physical location of a given user.

For financial institutions, this allows them to route unique services or specific offers to customers based on their location at any given moment.

Should a customer log into their online banking account via a mobile device, the institution can then provide information specific to the user's current location, such as the nearest physical branch or ATM and their hours of operation.

2. Social networking connections

Aside from general internet usage, mobile technology allows consumers to stay connected to their favorite social networking sites on the go.

For financial institutions leveraging social media, mobile provides a greater connection to the customer and allows for more real-time conversation as customers post comments to Facebook, Twitter, or any other social networking site via their mobile device.

Because the conversation is no longer tethered to a desktop computer, financial institutions can be informed of positive and negative feedback from customers within seconds of the event and begin the necessary next steps immediately.

But the most important factor mobile provides is real-time access to accounts and transactions.

Consumers can check balances or use personal financial management tools to review budget categories in the store. Bills can be paid on the road. Remote deposit capture even makes it simple to deposit funds when away from the ATM network.

Mobile banking also makes it easy to add to the information available about each customer. Banks can capture the data generated by the mobile apps and use the information to enhance product offerings, market specific products or even gauge the receptiveness to new offerings.

Instead of seeing mobile as a threat to existing channels, free customers to interact with their bank anytime, anywhere. The ability to touch the customer more often and gather data on how they use their mobile devices will help banks better serve customers and remain profitable.

Steven Ramirez

Steven J. Ramirez is chief executive officer of San Francisco-based Beyond the Arc Inc., a customer experience and advanced analytics firm that helps financial services clients differentiate themselves in the marketplace. The agency has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Most Promising Big Data Solution Providers by CIO Review magazine. Ramirez can be reached at [email protected]. Beyond the Arc can be followed on Twitter at @BeyondTheArc

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