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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We Have A New Mobile Banking Leader: Westpac Tops Forrester’s Global Benchmark In 2016

Aurelie L'Hostis

Mobile banking adoption has reached critical mass. Rapid progress in mobile technologies and consumers' ever-increasing expectations and changing behavior have left many banks around the world playing catch-up. In the meantime, a cluster of banks is racing forward by putting customers at the center of their strategy, striving to anticipate customers' emerging needs, and by embracing an agile and iterative approach to speed up the development of new mobile capabilities that differentiate them from their peers. Today, these banks are delivering outstanding services to their customers in mobile, and in 2016, Westpac in Australia is leading the pack.

To help digital business strategy leaders better understand the landscape of mobile banking, identify best practices, and benchmark their own capabilities in this area, Forrester conducts an annual functionality benchmark applying 40 criteria. This year, we evaluated 46 leading retail banks from more than a dozen countries across four continents, and have just published the findings in our "2016 Global Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark" report.

Here are some of the highlights from the global benchmark report:

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What Drives Mobile Banking Engagement?

Peter Wannemacher

This blog post is a collaboration between Peter Wannemacher and Nicole Dvorak, who also collaborated on Forrester's brand-new report on this topic.

As former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg once tweeted, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it and you can’t fix it.” Digital executives at banks must understand and gauge the drivers of mobile banking in order to boost engagement. To help executives and their teams accomplish this, Forrester recently built a driver analysis model to identify which factors increase mobile banking app use (as measured by the number of days used and the average duration of a session). This model included two categories of potential drivers: perceptions and behaviors. The full results of this research are detailed in our new report here.

Here are three key takeaways from our research:

  • Feelings of accomplishment fuel mobile banking use. The degree to which a mobile banking app helps a customer feel positive and accomplished has the largest impact on how often that customer will use mobile banking. This is further evidence that architecting positive emotional experiences is crucial to maintaining an engaged mobile banking audience. At leading providers, digital business execs and their teams will accomplish this, in part, by focusing on bank customers' mobile moments.  
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Spain, Turkey, And Poland Continue To Lead The Way In The European Mobile Banking Market

Aurelie L'Hostis

For the second year in a row, Spain’s CaixaBank tops our review of European banks’ mobile banking services. Not only CaixaBank delivers the basics superbly when it comes to transactional features, it also excels in offering a wide array of touchpoints including a smartwatch app and a fully-optimized mobile website with product research tools, as well as best-in-class alert services, and outstanding marketing and sales functionality.

Forrester has just published its 2016 European Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark, revealing important insights about the current state of European mobile banking. We evaluated the mobile banking services of 11 of the largest retail banks in Europe, and found out that CaixaBank in Spain, Garanti in Turkey, and Bank Zachodni WBK in Poland continue to lead in mobile banking. The three banks achieve mobile banking success by offering both strong basic functionality and a wide range of next-generation features. For example, CaixaBank lets customers make mobile contactless payments in store by providing a digital wallet integrated into the main mobile banking app. Garanti offers an interactive, voice-activated virtual assistant that customers can use to search the app for functionality and various task like finding a past transaction. Bank Zachodni WBK helps customers reach human help easily by offering video banking through their mobile banking app.


[Image Below: Bank Zachodni WBK Offers Video Banking Through Its Mobile App]



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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 Inaugural FSI Summit In Singapore: Accelerating Digital Business And Innovation In Financial Services

Zhi-Ying Ng

Faced with increasingly empowered customers, together with mounting pressure from existing and potential digital disruptors in the financial services sector (such as Alipay in China and Codapay in Southeast Asia), many banks across Asia Pacific have launched mobile banking apps to enable customers to make mobile transactions. Initally, these mobile banking apps suffered from abysmally low customer adoption and delivered poor customer experience. However, mobile banking apps have come a long way over the past five years, going from little more than an extension of online banking to what one digital banking executive calls “the most important part of my job.”

Through conversations with our FSI clients, we have observed a positive transformation in how eBusiness executives think about and execute on their mobile strategy, which contributed to rising adoption levels and better customer experience. The most notable shift that eBusiness executives have made is to perceive mobile as a crucial part of their organization’s broader business transformation imperative linked to specific business objectives and outcomes — this is fundamentally different from the early days when some eBusiness executives equated a mobile app to a mobile strategy.

Our exclusive FSI summit in Singapore on Friday, April 15 will bring together an intimate group of senior executives from banks, insurance companies, and selected fintech firms. At the event, my colleagues and I will share Forrester’s FSI digital business research, and facilitate discussions with industry leaders.

My presentation, “Who Does Mobile Banking Well In Asia Pacific?”, will explore:

  • Key mobile banking trends across Asia Pacific
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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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Which Bank Has Emerged Top In Forrester’s 2015 Singapore Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark?

Zhi-Ying Ng

Consumers in Asia Pacific have made the mobile mind shift—the expectation that they can get what they want in their immediate context and moments of need. This rings particularly true for consumers in Singapore, where smartphone penetration will reach a staggering 85% by the end of 2015. From researching products prior to purchase to booking of taxi services, consumers in Singapore are increasingly reaching into their pockets for their smartphones to get information and services in their mobile moments of need. And they have come to expect similar—if not better—information, digital services and customer experience from their financial institutions. It comes as no surprise then that competition in mobile banking has started to heat up in Singapore, with many banks enhancing their mobile capabilities to serve increasingly empowered customers. 

In our inaugural 2015 Singapore Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark report, we have evaluated the retail mobile banking offerings of four banks in Singapore using 41 criteria. We found that:

  • Banks in Singapore offer accessibility and convenience, providing a wide range of mobile touchpoints where customers can quickly log into their accounts to carry out key tasks, either on the web or on the app.
  • Most banks offer services that matter most to customers including balance checking, transaction history, and basic money movements.
  • Leading banks (such as DBS Bank and OCBC Bank) differentiate by offering next-generation value-added features, either by using augmented reality technology to help home buyers with their purchase decisions or by using mobile image capability to pay bills.
  • Yet, there is room for improvement for banks when it comes to leveraging context and analytics to gain a deeper understanding of their customers, and they can do more to cross-sell additional banking products and services through mobile
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For The Third Time In Three Years, Forrester’s UK Mobile Banking Benchmark Has A New Leader

Oliwia Berdak

[This is a guest blog by Alexander Causey]

In 2013 NatWest led the way. Last year Barclays overtook having introduced a range of new app functionality, including being the first in the UK to introduce a digital vault (Barclays Cloud It). And now in our latest report we found Lloyds Bank to have jumped ahead of them both.

Forrester’s 2015 UK Mobile Banking Functionality Benchmark was published yesterday and reveals our insights around the state of the UK mobile banking, based on reviews of Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, Nationwide Building Society, and NatWest.

Lloyds Bank has pulled ahead of its peers with more extensive account management and transactional features. It remains the only bank in the UK which we reviewed that lets customers add a new payee directly in the app. If I’m out and about and need to pay back my friend for some tickets, I don’t want to have to wait until I get home to add a new payee through my online banking (yes, yes I know…we could use Paym to make a P2P payment but for the sake of this argument, let’s say these are very expensive tickets). I want to be able to add a new payee and send the money then and there - in my mobile moment.

Lloyds Bank is also making strides through its Everyday Offers. By partnering with Cardlytics, the Lloyds Bank app presents customers with relevant cash-back offers based on their past transaction history.

That’s not to say that the other banks are not doing great things. One of my favorite features is Nationwide’s Quick Balance, which lets customers view their account balance in just one click and without the need to login.

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