Why Most Banks Should Not (Yet) Roll Out Bots

Peter Wannemacher

Companies of all stripes are getting bot happy, rolling out bots for third-party platforms like Facebook Messenger, Kik, WeChat, Slack, and more. Firms like Yahoo, H&M, KLM Airlines, and others use these chat bots — software built to simulate human conversation and to help consumers complete tasks — in an effort to better win, serve, and retain customers.

A few banking providers are beginning to dip their bank-shaped toes into the bot space: Capital One allows customers to take actions like paying bills via Alexa on Echo devices; Bank of America has announced plans to roll out a bot on Facebook Messenger; and numerous Chinese providers offer banking services via WeChat.

But while a few banks are in a position to experiment, digital business executives at most banks must decide whether to use precious resources to build or buy a chat bot offering. Forrester’s brand-new research report argues that most of these executives should hold off on launching chat bots for messaging platforms. This is because:

  • Today’s bots often lead to uneven — or worse — experiences for customers. In our research, we found many instances where a chat bot offered a quick and effective answer to a consumer’s question; however, about one-third of the time, existing chat bots either failed to complete the consumer’s request or provided a clunky, awkward experience.
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Bank of America Redesigns Email Alerts

Peter Wannemacher

Few things are as unsexy as emails from a financial services company. But email alerts play an important role in the world of digital banking: Forrester’s new research report shows that alerts drive mobile banking usage and engagement.

Too few digital banking teams allocate significant resources to their alerts efforts — as evidenced by the mixed results in the Alerts category of Forrester’s Digital Banking Benchmark scores. But some banks have recently sought to improve their email, SMS, and in-app alerts (also called “push notifications”).

Bank of America has now launched the latest updates to its alerts. Just a couple of years ago, the bank’s email alerts were text-heavy, unwieldy, crowded messages with little clear guidance for customers. But through multiple iterations, Bank of America redesigned its alerts to be clean and simple with a clear call to action based on the purpose of the alert (see images below).

Forrester spoke with  Alex Wittkowski, VP and senior product manager of mobile banking and commerce at Bank of America, who discussed how the bank redesigned its email alerts “to focus on just those few crucial elements” at the heart of an alert’s value to the customer. According to Wittkowski, the redesigned alerts are now:

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Banks Have A Variety Of Islamic Banking Platforms To Choose From

Jost Hoppermann

The World Bank explains Islamic finance as “equity-based, asset-backed, ethical, sustainable, environmentally and socially responsible finance.” In previous Forrester research, we have described many of the core principles of Islamic banking: limitations on interest, certain contractual considerations, and the prevention of gambling — which limits many of the speculative aspects of financial services. These principles make the Islamic Banking sector worthy of consideration in itself; and the tools and technologies that support Islamic banking are important for any financial services firm operating in geographies with large Islamic populations. However, the market is relevant for other key reasons:

  • Islamic banking is of a significant size and continues to grow. For example, Islamic commercial banking hold totals assets of about US$1.1 trillion and has captured a 15% to 20% market share of total commercial banking in countries where Islamic banking exists (according to Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University in the UAE). Recent estimates predict growth rates of about 9% for the finance market and 10% for commercial banking — rates beyond the growth of many conventional banks (according to the Dubai Islamic Economic Development Centre andThomson Reuters).
     
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The Downside Of Digital Labs For Financial Innovation

Diego Lo Giudice

The race to digital is heating up in financial services (FS) organizations; increasingly, the engine making this happen is Agile. Why? Quite simply, it is software that makes any financial business truly digital. Organizations are therefore in a rush to become great at rapidly innovating, developing, and delivering new software products to win new clients and retain and serve existing ones.

Oliwia Berdak and I have just published twin reports — one for eBusiness and channel strategy professionals, and one for AD&D leaders — that share our findings on how FS organizations are trying to ramp up their digital innovation capabilities rapidly by leveraging Agile and other innovative models. 

Our key finding comes in response to a question: Are you building a digital lab that contains great developers but is isolated from key business leaders and other technology management teams? If the answer is yes, don’t! If separate digital units pursue disruptive opportunities, they will often end up with just front-end apps or proofs of concept that are impossible to integrate and scale with same speed they were developed.

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The Data Digest: Upping The Emotional Ante Down Under

Anjali Lai

Emotions are at the basis of how customers perceive experiences – and why they choose to stay loyal to certain brands. But, not all emotions are equal: Different emotions lead to unique behavioral outcomes depending on context, emotional intensity, and even industry.

For example, in our latest study, my colleague Tom McCann and I measured the emotional impact of CX among banks and retailers in Australia. We discovered that feeling valued is one of the most powerful emotions driving loyalty toward a bank: Australian customers who feel that their bank puts them first are willing to pay a premium for the bank’s experience and are more forgiving when something goes wrong. However, among retail customers, valued is good – but happy is better. Australian retailers that leave customers in a cheery mood are more likely to retain their shoppers and turn their customers into advocates.

And what makes Australian shoppers happy? Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® survey data shows that details in the experience go a long way. For instance, customers are pleased with perceptibly low prices or special deals, stocked inventory, and pleasant customer service reps.

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Splitwise Is A Fintech Disruptor That Shows The Potential Of Shared Finances

Peter Wannemacher

Note: If you’re a Forrester client, you can jump straight to the full report here.

Two weeks ago, I was lucky enough to spend 10 days in Italy on a vacation with my wife and some friends. As we walked the Path of the Gods, made our own Neapolitan pizze, and enjoyed the gorgeous views of the Amalfi coast, different people in our group would pay for a limoncello here or a glass of aglianico there. As such, our financial activity was a mix of different individuals spending various amounts for a range of stuff. But our group was often too busy having fun to carefully track who paid how much for what and when.

Enter Splitwise* a non-bank mobile app that lets groups of people easily track their spending and settle their short-term debts to each other (see screenshots below). We used it throughout our trip, and it was a breeze.

But why didn’t a bank build this kind of convenient digital offering first? Or why don't more financial providers integrate with Splitwise and other disruptors to build ecosystems of values for their customers? Many bank executives and digital banking teams say their goal is to help customers better manage their finances (and increase retention and engagement by doing so). But too few financial institutions have focused on what Forrester calls the shared finances opportunity. Forrester defines shared finances as:

Any situation in which a person acts as an observer of, partner in, or proxy for another person's finances.

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Banks: Your Customers’ Cross-Channel Experiences Are Shoddy (Or Worse)

Peter Wannemacher

Note: If you’re a Forrester client, you can jump straight to the full report here.

The other day, I stopped by my bank’s ATM to get some cash. After entering my card and PIN and while waiting for my money (during which I was a captive audience), I was presented with an ad for a new service from the bank. Unfortunately, the ad’s call-to-action was a message telling me to call the bank’s 1-800 number to find out more.

I had just encountered one of the broken or inadequate cross-channel experiences that millions of customers face every year.

This is a lose-lose situation: In this case, the bank knew — or should have known — a heck of a lot about me as a customer, yet it failed to use context* to design a better experience and guide me seamlessly across touchpoints. And as a result, the bank also failed to cross-sell me any products or services.

Forrester defines cross-channel behavior as any instance in which a customer or prospect moves from one touchpoint to another when completing an objective. Today, cross-channel goes way beyond online-to-offline transitions; going forward, these interactions will only increase in frequency and importance. Digital executives at banks are left with a tangle of customer journeys across various touchpoints (see image below).

In our new report, Design Better Cross-Channel Banking Journeys, we show that:

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Forrester’s FSI Summit In Singapore: Accelerating Digital Business And Innovation In Financial Services

Dane Anderson

A recent Forrester survey found that business leaders in the financial services industry (FSI) saw 34% of revenues in 2015 generated through digital products and services or products sold online. Their expectation is that this digital quotient will surge to more than half of their business by 2020, leading to a digital arms (and capabilities) race against a new breed of competitor. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon accurately sums up the new competitive dynamic when he notes that “there are hundreds of startups with a lot of brains and money working on various alternatives to traditional banking.”

Our inaugural invitation-only summit in Singapore on Friday, April 15 will bring together an intimate group of senior executives from banks, insurance companies, and fintech firms to share Forrester’s latest FSI digital business research and facilitate a discussion with industry leaders. Our team of esteemed analysts will lead the discussion; here is a snapshot of the topics that will be presented on the morning of the summit:

  • Frederic Giron (Vice President and Research Director serving CIOs – Singapore): Accelerating Digital Business In Financial Services
  • Oliwia Berdak (Senior Analyst serving eBusiness and channel strategy professionals – London): How To Organize For Digital Financial Innovation
  • Randy Heffner (Vice President and Principal Analyst serving application development and delivery professionals – Dallas): APIs Take Center Stage In Financial Services
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The Gods Of Fintech Are Harsh And Fickle

Oliwia Berdak

Games of buzzword bingo and comparisons of on-stage role-play to 1980s’ pornography acting…today’s comments on Twitter prove that it takes guts to face the sometimes cruel Finovate crowd. But if you want to measure the current beat of banking, wealth management, insurance, and startup hearts, there’s no better place than Finovate. Here are a few reflections on Finovate Europe 2016:

  • Robo-advice is all the rage. Just when blockchain made it into a Dilbert cartoon, it disappeared from the Finovate stage. The only mention of cryptocurrencies was during Ledger’s presentation of its “hardware wallets for decentralised applications” (bitcoins, basically). This is not a bad thing; Forrester advice is to maintain a healthy level of scepticism. Finovate isn’t the place to prove blockchain’s purported capabilities. We’ve also moved away from personal finance management (fondly called PFM), mobile payments, digital wallets. If you want to be in vogue, you now need to pay attention to digitising investment strategies, biometric authentication and contextual engagement. Apart from the international-payments startup Valuto, this year’s Best of Show winners (Capitali.se, DriveWealth, SwipeStox, EyeVerify, IDscan) all fall under the first two themes.
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Which Banks Lead In Mobile: Forrester Benchmarks 41 Providers Around The World

Peter Wannemacher

Over the past seven years, mobile banking has gone from little more than an extension of online banking to what one digital banking executive now calls “the most important part of my job.” eBusiness and channel strategy professionals at banks are under intense pressure to differentiate by offering mobile features, content, and experiences that meet — or exceed — customers’ needs and expectations.

To help executives and digital leaders better understand where mobile banking is today — and where different banking providers stand in terms of their mobile offerings — Forrester conducts an annual mobile banking benchmark. This year, we evaluated 41 different banks from more than a dozen different countries across four continents. We recently published the findings in our 2015 Global Mobile Banking Benchmark report.

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