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Opinion: Banking on mobile for the future

VP Avaya

Banks know they cannot afford to be on the back foot when it comes to mobile, yet the speed of consumer adoption is far faster than most businesses can contemplate

July 27, 2012 11:00 by

Aside from the woeful economic climate, the financial services sector is facing some of its toughest trading conditions ever. It would appear that customers have become simultaneously less loyal and more demanding.

Independent research from Avaya and BT conducted in early 2012 shows that one in two consumers believe loyalty to banks is a thing of the past, while at the same time they want seamless customer service through a range of ever-changing channels. According to the research, the average consumer uses nearly three different channels just to buy one financial product.

One of the fastest growing channels that customers are keen to use when dealing with financial services companies is mobile: Avaya and BT’s research shows that more than half of EMEA consumers use a smartphone and nearly a quarter of them have already tried mobile banking.  What’s more, an astounding 60 per cent want to receive smart, proactive, outbound messages from their bank.

These figures suggest that with more mobile phones than people on the planet, the demand for mobile banking and, by extension, mobile customer service, is only set to increase.  So, whatever an organisation’s strategy for keeping and satisfying customers, mobile needs to play a big part.

While this is a huge opportunity for financial institutions to engage with customers anytime, anywhere, any place, it is also a big ‘break’ for the IT channel – a chance to strengthen and expand relationships with financial services organisations. Where mobile is concerned, not only are resellers critical in terms of supplying the necessary infrastructure that supports the mobile phenomenon but also in integrating new mobile technologies into existing IT and customer service environments.

An important consideration for a financial services company looking to embrace all that mobility has to offer, is the highly competitive and strictly regulated marketplace in which it operates. Consequently, any channel partner that has the expertise to be able to recommend solutions that will boost customer service and satisfaction, and drive competitive advantage, within these constraints, will immediately be sought out.

Another key consideration for financial services companies is that new mobile technologies come with social as well as technical guidelines. This means that financial institutions will seek out partners that can show they have proven capabilities in delivering a mobile strategy that meets both technological and human requirements. After all, as with any highly competitive marketplace, intense competition creates a fickle consumer base. It is these customers – particularly those from Generation Y who will only increase their spend and therefore their share of revenue – that are pushing for anytime, anywhere, any place mobile access. Yet, it is these very same customers that are more likely to leave if mobile interactions are not pitched correctly.

Additionally, mobile technology is helping savvy resellers gain direct access to the boardroom. Since it’s a technology that customers are clamouring for, senior executives are ready to listen to the business case for mobile. Leading channel partners are using this opportunity to explain the value that their technology solutions – both mobile and beyond – can bring to the C-suite in the language, they as bankers, understand. By this I don’t just mean non-technical, jargon-free language but also clear positioning of the business benefits of mobile technology, like improved customer satisfaction and lower transaction costs. Used correctly, the C-level consultative approach that mobile affords is a great foundation upon which to build discussion around future technologies long after today’s trends have become mainstream.

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