Forrester’s 2013 US Bank Online Sales Rankings: B Of A Takes The Top Spot For The First Time!

Checking accounts are one of the top selling financial products in the US, and 18% of applicants apply online. To help digital banking teams benchmark their bank websites and plan future improvements, Forrester used its Website User Experience Review and Website Functionality Benchmark methodologies to evaluate the public websites of the seven largest US retail banks. Our 2013 US Bank Online Sales Rankings includes the rankings for Bank of America, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Capital One, Chase, and PNC. 

Highlights of the 2013 US Bank Online Sales Rankings:

  • Bank of America takes the top spot for the first time. Bank of America topped this year's US bank ranking, scoring 72 out of 100. Bank of America stands out for the content and functionality it offers in both the research and the application phases. Just three points separated the top four sites: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank, and Citibank.
  • US banks have worked hard to build trust with prospects. All of the US bank sites we ranked demonstrated proficiency in guiding prospects through the research and buying process by providing feedback, contextual help, and an indication on how to correct errors.
  • Digital banking teams still struggle with efficiently merchandising products. Digital banking teams aren't merchandising accounts effectively by giving prospects reasons to do business with them. Many banking sales sites do not effectively promote services like digital banking capabilities, do not differentiate the bank from its competitors, and do not offer customer ratings and reviews.
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American Express Takes The Lead In Our 2013 US Credit Card Online Sales Rankings!

The online channel plays a large role on how prospects research and apply for credit cards.  In 2012 more than half of US online adults who purchased a credit card applied for that card online. In order to evaluate the five largest US credit card issuers on their online sales experience, Forrester used its Website Functionality Benchmark methodology to evaluate the acquisition portions of their websites.  Our 2013 US Credit Card Online Sales Rankings includes the rankings for: American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, and Citibank.

Highlights of the 2013 US Credit Card Online Sales Rankings:

  • American Express Takes The Lead This Year Among US Card Issuers! American Express's strong performance in both research and application content and functionality secured the top spot this year.
  • Dynamic Research Tools Abound On Card Issuers' Sites. Credit card issuers are providing dynamic features to guide prospects. All five sites we reviewed provide credit card selector tools as well as comparison charts that help prospects identify the right credit card based on their need.
  • Application Processes Are Becoming More Sophisticated. Prefilled applications for existing customers, automatic data validation, and proactive help are just a few of the features that have improved the online application process at leading card issuers. American Express goes a step beyond its competitors by providing an instant credit decision, credit limits, and immediate card number issuance.
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FinovateSpring Fling 2013: Another Year Of Dazzling Financial Services Delight!

I attended FinovateSpring 2013 last week to get a preview of new products from digital technology vendors for financial services. For those of you that have not been to Finovate, it’s a little like innovation speed dating — where 72 vendors have 7 minutes to win the hearts of the audience to secure the “Best of Show” Award. At last year’s conference, a few new topics emerged: Personal Financial Management (PFM), payments, rewards, coupons, and mobile banking services for Prepaid Visa customers. This year the focus was still on PFM and payments, but one new topic hit the stage full force: authentication, which is this year’s new black. Sexy, I know!

While there were plenty of interesting and innovative demonstrations, Forrester attended the conference to identify trends and solutions relevant for our retail digital financial services clients. My "Best of Show" picks included innovative solutions that helped our clients either deliver on a customer need or solve a core customer problem in the retail banking realm. At this year’s conference, I noticed that:

  • Big data and PFM got married . . . And had a little MoneyDesktop. MoneyDesktop, the best in show winner, debuted their Insight and Target platforms — providing financial institutions the ability to create and send targeted marketing content and product offerings based on customer relevancy.
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Multichannel: Retail Banking Pipe Dream Or Reality?

The rapid development of customer touchpoints and rising customer expectations turn up the pressure on eBusiness professionals at retail banks to continue investing in digital channels. Even with the rising pressure, few eBusiness executives report having the resources needed to execute a strategy that supports customers who use multiple channels. Forrester partnered with the Consumer Bankers Association for the second year to survey digital banking executives for the “The State Of North American Digital And Multichannel Banking 2013” report. The goal of the research was to better understand how digital banking teams are focusing their strategic energy, investing in digital channels, building multichannel capabilities, and measuring the digital business. We found that:

  • Consumers are increasingly using multiple channels. Almost one-third of eBusiness executives we surveyed believe that more than half of their customers regularly use more than one channel. Yet few banks have connected their multiple channels to create an integrated multichannel experience -- allowing customers to seamlessly move between channels.
  • While most banks have a multichannel strategy, few have the resources to execute. Most eBusiness executives indicate they have a digital strategy, yet only a few report having the budget or dedicated multichannel teams to support executing a strategy. Without dedicated resources, multichannel will remain a pipe dream.
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Even The Best Mobile Banking Strategy Can Be A Victim Of Poor Execution

My latest research on Building Next Generation Mobile Banking Solutions has been published for a few days now.  I’ve already gotten phone calls from clients stating this research is not only timely, but speaks to the very challenges their organization is facing when considering how to build next generation mobile banking solutions.   The resounding theme, as my latest research uncovers: Even the best mobile strategy can be a victim of poor execution.  Digital banking executives are feeling the pain of their current mobile banking platform.  While most are plagued with the realization that their current mobile banking platform may not be scalable or flexible enough to deliver next generation mobile banking solutions, others are facing a more disruptive challenge—dealing with the vendor acquisition and consolidation aftermath. Regardless of your current plight, digital banking teams should consider the following as they build next generation mobile banking solutions:

  • A well-defined strategy can fall short in execution. Technology can make or break even the best mobile banking strategy. The pressure is on to get something out the door, but too much focus on short-term delivery has meant that some banks have sacrificed the ability to deliver long-term capabilities.
  • A vendor relationship can hinder or enhance your mobile banking strategy. Banks that are using a vendor that has been recently acquired are burdened with the task of understanding how that acquisition will affect their mobile banking strategy and roadmap.  Specifically, banks are trying to determine if acquisition will require migration to a new platform, dedicated internal resources to support migration activities, or a new vendor altogether.   
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How Social, Mobile, And Tablets Are Revolutionizing Consumer Banking

Everyone is talking about it, everyone is doing it, and everyone wants one. Social, mobile, and tablets are creating digital banking disruption and fundamentally shaking up how banks interact with and serve their customers. The rise of the digital channels has given banks a unique opportunity to drive lower-complexity, everyday tasks to digital channels while beginning to refocus live channels to provide guidance and support for more complex, relationship-building activities. Disruption brings opportunity both for you and for the disruptors, who are faster, stronger, and sometimes even better at giving customers what they really want, more conveniently than before. Disruptors are setting the pace for customer adoption of more complex digital financial services. So the question is, how do you turn digital disruption into opportunity and fundamentally rethink how social, mobile, and tablets can transform your consumer banking experience?

On October 25, at the Forrester eBusiness & Channel Strategy Forum in Chicago, I will be exploring how social, mobile, and tablets are empowering eBusiness professionals to revolutionize the retail banking environment. In this session, I will discuss how: 

  • Few financial services companies have fully explored social media. A comparative scan of social media marketing efforts shows that few financial services firms are using social media marketing effectively compared with other industries. Financial services firms haven't been blind to their customers' adoption of social tools, but it's clear that the industry hasn't fully embraced social technologies either.
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Move Over Online, Mobile Is Poised To Hit Mainstream

Some leading banks have already seen the number of mobile interactions overtake the number of online interactions. The evolution of mobile devices coupled with rising smartphone and mobile banking adoption is evolving banking customers’ needs and will fundamentally change the way eBusiness professionals need to view technology and customer support. We expect mobile banking to grow rapidly over the next few years, but digital banking teams will have to overcome many challenges to stay on par with Forrester’s projected growth, or risk being left behind. In our recent report The State Of Mobile Banking 2012, we help eBusiness and channel strategy professionals understand the most important trends in mobile banking, including:

  • Mobile banking will soon be mainstream. Fueled by the adoption of smartphones and the growing supply of mobile banking, the use of mobile banking has grown steadily over the past few years. We expect the number of US mobile banking users to double in the next five years and reach 108 million by 2017 -- 46% of US bank account holders.
  • Everyday banking relationships are moving to mobile. Consumers are progressing from simply checking their account balances or locating an ATM to making bill payments or transferring money to other accounts on their mobile phones. As that happens, mobile banking is displacing use of other channels like branches and online banking.
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Looking For A Mobile Banking Vendor?

I’ve finished up my Market Overview of Mobile Banking Solutions 2012.  While my report covers 11 mobile banking vendors: Clairmail, FIS, Fiserv, Infosys, Intuit, Jack Henry, Kony, mFoundry, Monitise, ORCC, and Sybase, an SAP company, there are a handful of vendors that did not meet the criteria to be included in this year’s report and a few others that we are just becoming familiar with their mobile banking offering.  The constant movement in the mobile vendor landscape creates challenges for eBusiness professionals in understanding the players in the market. 

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Inject A Human Touch Into Digital Banking

With the evolution of digital touchpoints, banks have mastered right channeling to drive customers to lower cost digital channels for self-service.  As customer adoption of digital channels is in full force and customers are calling and visiting branches less, banks are looking for innovative ways to inject a human touch into their digital channels.  Specifically, banks need to focus on identifying high value interactions and directing customers to the right channel, for the right interaction, at the right time.  In order to be successful, the strategy must be more than slapping an 800 number online and saying “here’s my number…call me, maybe”.  Bank Hapoalim, one of Israel’s largest banks, recognized the strategic implications of limited customer interaction and implemented a strategy to inject a human touch into digital banking to meet the needs of high-value digital banking customers.  The strategy focused on:  

  • Integrating Human And Digital Channels. Each customer has unique needs and communication preferences. Allow self-served customers to select preferences by providing channel options and use right-channeling to drive low-complexity tasks to digital channels and high-complexity tasks to a bank representative.
  • Adapting To Evolving Touchpoints With Agile Commerce. Agile commerce is an approach to commerce that enables businesses to optimize their people, processes, and technology to serve customers across all touchpoints. As touchpointsevolve, eBusiness and channel professionals must remain focused on making decisions that support a customer’s ability to interact across human and digital touchpoints.
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Finovate Spring 2012: Digital Financial Services Innovation

I attended Finovatethis week to get a preview of new financial services digital technology vendors. I say preview because if you have ever been to Finovate, you know it’s a little like speed dating, where 63 vendors have 7 minutes each to show you their best moves.  The themes at Finovate this year were not much different as previous years with the focus being on mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments.  However, this year, a few new topics emerged:  rewards, coupons, and mobile banking services for Pre-Paid Visas customers.  Apparently, Pre-Paid Visas are the new black. 

 While there was plenty of interesting and innovative demonstrations, Forrester attended the conference to identify trends and solutions relevant for our retail digital financial services clients. Specifically, we looked at innovative solutions for our clients related to mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments. The following vendors stood out as innovative solutions for mobile banking, personal financial management, and payments:

  •  DWOLLAis a next-generation social, mobile and online payment network. Its financial service product, FiSynch, integrates its technology into financial institutions.
  • IP Commercesolves the development challenge of multi-payer acceptance and multi-payee disbursement
  • iQuantifiprovides users with automated and personalized financial advice online
  • Money Desktopoffers the next generation of personal financial management.  Its slick design makes excellent use of the native app features. 
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