By Antoine Hemon-Laurens
Enterprise messaging applications may be the new face of banking customer communications.
Millennials are setting a new trend on which all ages are jumping aboard. According to research from Yahoo’s Flurry Insights, they’re using popular messaging applications such as WeChat, WhatsApp, or Facebook Messenger to communicate, pay, and exchange information—not only with their peers, but also with companies.
Like Gmail or Outlook, these applications provide an environment in which people interact in real time, but with the addition of a social dimension. Looking at this trend from an enterprise perspective, it would appear that customers would trade simplicity and convenience over brand loyalty, security, and confidentiality.
Messaging applications are used 4.7 times more frequently each day than the combined average of all other mobile applications. And users also reportedly keep messaging applications on their devices for longer periods of time. As this trend grows, it becomes a threat for any company that spends millions of dollars acquiring customers every year, while remaining a click away from losing those customers to other service providers that exist in the same mobile environment.
What do customers really want?
What customers want are simple and convenient ways to interact with the companies with which they choose to do business. They want the ability to:
- Be notified in real time
- Access and share data in a single place
- Gain instant feedback
- Take action in an instant
It seems trivial, but many banks today are failing to deliver such basic features. The reason: their mobile assets (mobile website and mobile applications) look like their desktop website. Unlike messaging applications that have mastered mobile enablement for a while now, mobile core capabilities such as geo-tagging, instant notifications, address book, and payments are not well integrated into enterprise mobile services.
Consider some of the new tailored solutions.
Enterprise messaging applications (EMApps), can turn into new business opportunities if a bank is positioned to deliver unique content (statements, offers, notifications, new product announcements, etc.) to customers.
The car I need is for sale at my local car dealer, but I don’t have the cash to buy it outright. I could directly apply for a car loan with the dealer, but I’m not sure I will get the most favorable loan terms. Instead, I download my bank’s branded “Car Loan Direct” mobile application from the App Store or Google Play. Once the mobile application is set up on my smartphone, all communications related to my loan application are pushed into the “Car Loan Direct” application. The auto loan application comes pre-filled, as my bank knows my profile. I fine-tune the monthly payment amount and I receive instant notifications, such as documents to sign (using digital signature) and final approvals. I easily communicate back and forth with my banker, sending her updated proof of IDs or other required documents. A process that normally takes up to two to three weeks is now simple and completed in just a few hours. Once the loan application is finished, I remove the application from my phone, and I am a satisfied banking customer with a brand new car.
These EMApps can be developed specifically for any bank and line of business. They come with:
- A branded customer experience
- Seamless registration/log-in enablement
- Enterprise-unique content and history
- A mobile optimized customer experience (e.g. responsive content in HTML5, unlike PDF)
- Embedded calls-to-action, such as digital signature, one-click-payment or call-my-banker
- Geolocation based services
- Content sharing capabilities, photo capture and other features
Inheriting what messaging applications do best, EMApps are a brand new category of mobile application, specifically built to communicate with customers. Done right, they have the potential to be simple, personalized, social, and cost effective. They provide a hybrid, enterprise branded solution between messaging applications and existing enterprise mobile assets.
They are most useful for supporting enterprise customer communications during key business processes like mortgage applications, signature loan applications or client onboarding.
Be aware of the rise of messaging applications with connected devices.
Similarly, banks are not yet leveraging the full potential behind connected devices such as smartwatches. EMApps extend naturally on these devices. These solutions are tuned to receive notifications and deliver snapshots of meaningful content. They come with embedded calls to action, beacons, localization and context, which makes the customer experience even more positive. In the coming months more companies, including banks, will differentiate from the pack by reaching out to customers on connected devices, enabling a new level of communication and interaction. More devices, more services, and more products define the Internet of Things. This represents a new threat for banks that do not adapt, but great potential for those that are smart and agile and in their digital transformation.
Antoine Hemon-Laurens is a customer communications management expert at GMC Software. His focus is on helping banks better engage with their customers through mobile solutions, customer engagement and digital signatures. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter.
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