Steady Mobile Banking Growth To Drive Demand For Better Functionality

Mobile banking growth in the US continues to be fueled by aggressive adoption of smartphones and regular mobile web use. The problem with this scenario, as noted in my new report, US Mobile Banking Forecast, 2010 To 2015, is that consumers are still struggling to figure out exactly how they will use mobile banking. Lacking any clear differentiated functionality, mobile banking appeals most strongly to those consumers already inclined to use the mobile channel. Unfortunately, this segment is dominated by those already using online banking. As a result, banks are not realizing the full benefit of switching customers to cheaper servicing channels, but instead are seeing cannibalization of one low-cost channel (online) by another (mobile).

To reach one in five US adults, as Forrester predicts mobile banking will do by 2015, US banks will need to enhance today's functionality significantly to create a unique value proposition that resonates with both online and offline consumers. This can be achieved in several ways:

  1. Introducing innovative new features — like mobile remote deposit capture — not commonly available through other channels
  2. Optimizing existing functionality to offer superior user experiences through the mobile channel
    (which of these transfer interfaces would you rather use?)
  3. Leveraging the unique capabilities of mobile devices and the mobile channel (think visual ATM locators and other location-based services) 
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Software App Stores And The Implications For eCommerce

For eBusiness leaders, software app stores represent a new and disruptive distribution channel for PC and Mac software.

Three weeks ago, Apple launched its App Store for Macs, following in the footsteps of the hugely successful app store for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch. With the new Mac app store, Apple is hoping to change the way Mac users discover, download and purchase software. At launch the store contained more than 1,000 apps, and Apple was keen to report an impressive 1 million downloads on the first day. For Mac users it’s a compelling story:

  • A convenient one-stop shop. Users can launch the app store right from the Mac dock, revealing a powerful set of discovery tools to browse and search the library of apps on offer. eCommerce best practices are employed throughout including search, faceted navigation, what’s hot, top sellers, favorites and customer reviews to create an intuitive discovery experience.
  • Frictionless purchase and install experience. Downloading and buying in the app store is a simple one-click process. By linking the checkout and payment process to users' iTunes accounts, Apple is able to streamline the buying process significantly versus a typical multipage checkout process common on software publishers' eCommerce sites. The apps in the Mac store have been packaged to comply with the Mac app install process, making the installation quick and seamless compared to the multistep install process common with most software.
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It's Too Soon To Scrap Hotel Star-Ratings In Favor Of Traveler-Written Reviews

UK newspapers reported on Monday, January 24, 2011, that UK tourism minister John Penrose stated the government is considering phasing out government-sanctioned star-ratings of various lodging accommodations in favor of traveler-written reviews.

That's an idea ahead of its time.

Currently, representatives from various UK tourism authorities like VisitEngland, VisitScotland, and the Automobile Association (known in the UK as the AA) anonymously visit and assess hotels, B&Bs, and even campsites. These reviewers grade each establishment on a scale of one to five stars, using a process and criteria discussed here.

Tempting as it may be to use traveler-written ratings and reviews -- which the UK's Department for Culture, Media and Sport considers to be more "truthful '' -- it's too soon to abandon the government-set standards. Why?

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Defining Customer Service Will Be A Moving Target In 2011

Customer service has traditionally been defined as the interaction between a customer and a company — either its employees or its online channels — to obtain information or resolve an issue before, during, or after a purchase.

As we enter 2011, I’ve been thinking about how the definition of customer service has been changing. There are three forces that I think are challenging our traditional definition:

  1.  Social media is tightening the relationship between support and brand. Social customer service is about using social technologies to provide or facilitate customer service or support. As I noted in my report “Getting Social Customer Service Right,” the essence of social media is having conversations, and customers want to talk about their experiences and get resolution for their issues. Social customer service is offered publicly: The complaint and resolution (or lack of) are out there for the world to see. Marketers are acutely aware of the impact this has on brand sentiment and reputation. As a result, customer service is becoming an essential element to brand strategy.
  2. Customer service is becoming more proactive. Traditionally, customers initiated contact with companies to request assistance. But proactive technologies are changing that. Proactive chat and click-to-call have been associated primarily with sales objectives, but there is growing interest among eBusiness leaders to employ proactive live help technologies to assist with customer service issues. This means proactive chat capabilities that have sat on the sales side of an organization are shifting onto the customer service side.
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Commerce Technology Coverage Expands! Welcome Peter Sheldon

I am thrilled to announce that Forrester is expanding our coverage of commerce technology and services with the addition of Senior Analyst Peter Sheldon. Many of you are likely readers of Elastic Path’s excellent blog and, therefore, will be familiar with some of Peter’s work. Peter brings a strong background in eCommerce, mobile commerce, and digital content, most recently serving as product manager at Elastic Path Software where he had been responsible for the road map and strategic direction of the Elastic Path commerce platform.

Peter and I will be collaborating closely on our research on commerce technology and services. We have a lot planned. In 2011, a few of the key areas you can look for expanded research on from us include:

  • The changing nature of multichannel commerce solutions.
  • eCommerce/Commerce platforms.
  • Mobile commerce.
  • Full-service eCommerce service providers.
  • B2B eCommerce solutions.
  • Digital commerce solutions (content and software).
  • How to select a systems integrator.
  • The changing nature of search and discovery solutions.
  • Content management for commerce.
  • Shopping APIs and commerce syndication.
  • Global eCommerce technologies and services.

Please join me in welcoming Peter to Forrester, and I know we all look forward to our expanded commerce technology research.

Thanks, Brian