Technology has had an enormous impact on the way that consumers interact with all services, resulting in a vast growth in appetite for multi-channel content and services across all industries, including for banking. For retail banks, this has seen mobile, online and tablet platforms impact the way in which all forms of service is delivered. New technologies, and adaptations for older technologies, are constantly shifting the goalposts for banks – take the mooted adoption of remote cheque deposit capture in the UK as an example of a technology that could yet again transform the industry.
Digital banking has until recently been seen as “online banking”, but it is now becoming broadly understood as distinct channels – tablet, mobile and online, each with distinctive attributes and usage contexts, with each offering an excellent way for banks to reach their customers. For payments experiences, this is particularly true, and banks must pay close attention to how and why these channels differ for consumers.
The unique attributes of digital devices are a big part of what defines today’s digital banking channels, and taking advantage of these across each device is essential to providing a tailored experience. For example, smartphones are fitted with cameras that can be used to capture information, tablets offer tactile functionality and a portability that encourages leisurely browsing and PCs have keyboards, a mouse, and a large screen that facilitates the input and management of information.
To offer a truly tailored experience, financial institutions should leverage each digital device’s capabilities to boost the functionality of the channels. This could manifest itself in features such as mobile cheque capture or mobile photo bill pay that allows customers to deposit checks or pay a bill by taking a picture, visual displays of “touchable” personal financial information that reveal transaction details with a tap, and online personal financial management tools to categorise spending.
Behavioural Differences Across Channels: How and Why
While the unique capabilities of smartphones, tablets and PCs do impact their respective digital banking and payment channels, it is important to note that the devices themselves do not define the channels. To optimise each of the different channels, banks must consider where and how consumers use the channel, the context and reasons for its use and the tasks that users want to complete. Once banks have a good grasp of these details, they can begin to create digital banking experiences that allow consumers to conduct channel-specific activities with ease.
The descriptions below demonstrate the variations in experience that should be delivered across each channel:
Online – Consumers turn to PCs for tasks that require data input or a larger screen, require considerable effort, and which would often be cumbersome on a mobile phone or tablet. When using a PC, consumers typically sit down and ‘lean in’ to focus, often in a room away from others. They expect detailed, comprehensive information to be at their fingertips, making in-depth product information and longer-term financial records access appropriate for the online channel.
Mobile – The typically brief, on-the-go interactions that take place in the mobile channel necessitate easy navigation to facilitate quick access to information, as well as the ability to execute just-in-time payments – whether to people, billers or merchants. For consumers engaged with mobile technology, services like remote cheque capture and the delivery of contextually relevant data (such as rewards earning and redemption opportunities presented during a transaction) are also a good fit. Notifications – such as actionable payment alerts – serve to keep the user connected with their finances, while a real life example of a great use of mobile is Bank of the West’s groundbreaking Quick Balance feature, which offers customers the opportunity to look at their balance without even having to log into an app.
Tablet – The casual, at-home use of tablets encourages relaxed browsing in a ‘lean-back’ posture, calling for simple, visually compelling content that is navigated with swipes and taps. This could include large and interactive calendar displays, and the ability to easily set up reminders, add notes, and access online chat capabilities. In addition, tablets are often used in multiscreen situations with multiple people present, such as when a user watches TV with tablet in hand. The context of tablet use, in combination with its capacity to provide relevant content and chat capabilities to connect with customer service representatives that can answer questions relating to specific products, provides a compelling proposition to financial institutions who have struggled to engage task-focused PC users for cross-sell opportunities.
Consistency in Design, Detail and Data
Across all channels and banking experiences, be they digital banking channels or in branch, there is also a need for banks to balance the variations with elements of consistency. This includes displaying the same account names and information, ensuring the same preferences can be used and of course having the same feel and look. Above all, it is essential that data is accurate, real-time and consistent across all channels.
The careful, but achievable, balance between tailored experiences and consistency is what banks must strive for. New banking and payment channels will emerge and the experiences consumers expect will change – but even as this happens – the principles of and reasons for delivering tailored experiences will remain. For banks, as well as benefitting from providing customers with digital services that they expect and prefer, through increased levels of digital and general engagement, they gain access to insights they have previously not had (read; ‘big data’) .
Technology is driving the changes in interaction preferences between banks and their customers, and developments such as the wider rollout of remote cheque deposit will serve to accelerate this trend. Future developments with online, tablet and mobile banking will likely include a self-service functionality, giving customers the capability to digitally purchase any banking product, manage their cards in real time and chat / message / video conference with an employee of the bank any time of day or night. Exploiting the unique attributes of digital devices will enable banks to transform customer delight and their financial performance at the same time.