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).
Digital wallets appear to be so compelling – simplifying life for the customer (check), always present (check), location marketing (check), loyalty and rewards (check), multiple payment types (check), digital delivery (check) adoption…hmmm, not so good.
So why are consumers not flocking to the promised land of Apple Pay, Android Pay and other digital wallets?
Well they are...sort of. You have to look to China to see the promise of a wallet fulfilled, where Alipay has left its humble payment origins behind and now moved into smart cities. It lines up alongside the lifestyle platform WeChat; as well as shopping, paying bills and taxes with WeChat Pay, you can also schedule hospital appointments, order a taxi, apply for a visa or file your taxes. The numbers are staggering: according to this article by The Drum, 420 million people used WeChat to send 8.08 billion “red envelope” digital payments over Chinese New Year alone, almost double the transactions that PayPal had during the whole of 2015. But China is a special case – born straight in to a digital world, wallets arrived without legacy, without competition. Head back to the West and you start to understand some of the challenges – highly competitive markets, fragmented providers, disintermediation fears from banks and card issuers, trust issues from consumers – it’s just not China.
From discussions with our clients in the financial services industry (FSI) in Asia Pacific, we’ve noticed that their digital agenda has changed dramatically over the past 18 months, shifting from a consideration of acquisitions and distribution channels to a broader business transformation imperative.
In fact, leaders at banks and insurance firms are increasingly realizing that:
Customer experience is fast becoming the only competitive differentiator.
Banks and insurance have to accelerate their ability to innovate and deliver new sources of value to customers faster.
As a preview of the report, here are two of our predictions for 2016:
APIs and open platforms will take center stage. APIs are becoming the most powerful technology in digital business design. Done right, APIs open new angles for business strategy. Financial services providers have been relatively slow to recognize and act on APIs as an opportunity to transform their businesses and, ultimately, better win, serve, and retain customers.* This will change in 2016, as digital executives collaborate with CIOs to champion big investments in internal, B2B, and product APIs. APIs won’t only help firms increase agility and provide services to clients and partners: They will enable financial firms to build dynamic ecosystems of value, reconnecting a fragmented value chain. They will be part of a wider, and longer-term, shift to open platforms as the foundation of digital financial services strategy.
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.
Over the past decade, digital executives and teams at banks have made strides in digital selling by upgrading and improving their public websites — and more recently their mobile apps and sites. But conversion rates on many banks’ websites remain low — in some areas, well below 10% — even as consumers’ expectations for digital experiences rise.
To take their digital selling to the next level, digital marketing and sales teams at banks should look outside the banking industry for fresh thinking. One area to look for inspiration is retail: By adapting digital tactics that best-in-class retailers use, banking digital teams can make adjustments to their websites and mobile apps that boost conversion rates and sales overall. Forrester has just published a new report that outlines “What Banks Can Learn From Retailers' Websites.” Here are just three of the ideas we discuss in the report:
Merchandise around customers’ needs and journeys rather than product silos. Retailers have found success by merchandising entire site sections, and even microsites, around customer journeys and events. Yet our research finds that virtually all banks still use products as the organizing principle on their websites. In 2013, Wal-Mart created a complete "back to college" microsite with digital marketing on key landing pages. As a result of this and other digital merchandising efforts, Wal-Mart increased the number of back-to-school products sold on its website by 30% year-over-year.
Hot off the presses: We’ve just published our 2014 US and Canadian Bank Digital Sales Benchmark reports, in which we assess the public websites of the five largest retail banks in each country — as well as their mobile sites and downloadable apps for smartphones and tablets. Our benchmark looks at a range of criteria across four categories: discover, explore, buy, and onboard (see image below).
Read the full reports by clicking on the following links:
Here are some of the findings from the research:
Bank of America narrowly edges out the competition to take the top US spot. For the second year in a row, Bank of America earns the highest overall score among the five largest retail banks. The firm excels by simplifying the online application process (it takes just a few minutes and guides the user with clear feedback and progress indicators) while supporting digital shoppers with chat and click-to-call options. At the same time, Bank of America enables easy cross-channel shopping for digital researchers who want to move offline to apply, with branch appointment scheduling available online.
I had the pleasure of conducting a Digital Maturity Assessment workshop with a colleague from Forrester Consulting for about 20 companies in Sydney recently. The majority of participants were from the Australian financial sector, with heavier representation from marketing departments than technology management. While the session was an abridged one intended to discuss, understand, and determine where the participants were on their digital business journey, it was productive and revealed that:
Participants knew what to do with digital business transformation, but struggled with how. Participants had started on the digital transformation journey, but needed to address cultural and organizational gaps to fully drive transformation. These issues include who owns the digital transformation agenda (does it sit with the CIO or CMO?), how to bridge the communication chasm between the CIO’s department and the lines of business, and how to measure results to drive transformation in a positive direction.
In his excellent book, The Checklist Manifesto, Atul Gawande makes a compelling case for the power of simple checklists to avoid issues and mistakes during the decisioning process. Gawande's thesis is essentially this: A consistently applied, step-by-step checklist can be enormously valuable for a range of professionals from doctors to software designers to executives at major companies.
Add to this group the lowly mobile banking strategist.