Why Financial Services Companies Need to Be Thinking about ‘ME’

Filed in Mobile Engagement, Mobile Marketing by on September 25, 2014 0 Comments

As financial institutions continue to invest in their mobile strategies, they need to make sure they’re thinking about “ME” – “Mobile Engagement,” that is. As my colleague Todd Thayer discussed in his last blog post, “ME” is the theme that Syniverse has adopted for describing our new Mobile Engagement solutions. By “ME,” we mean both “mobile engagement” as well as “me,” the pronoun, to convey the individual personalization that our new solution suite enables financial services companies to provide to each and every customer.

I recently had an experience that offers a vivid example of why mobile engagement has become so important to this industry.

Living in London and working for a U.S.-headquartered company mean that I’m no stranger to a cross-Atlantic business trip or two. And being a frequent business traveler who works with a number of financial services companies, it came as no surprise to me that on my last trip, my credit card was blocked as I tried to take out money at an ATM by the office.

What did come as a bit of a surprise, however, was the rather panicked phone call I received from my mother some 15 minutes after I’d attempted the transaction saying she’d just received an automated fraud message from my bank, on her landline. Now let me clarify that I have not lived at home in more than 20 years, and all my bank accounts are very much in my name.

This story of poor customer service didn’t end there. When I got home, there was a letter from the bank waiting for me about the suspected fraudulent activity saying that if I didn’t respond within seven days, my credit card would be permanently blocked. Having been away, I didn’t actually get that letter until the day before the deadline. But on a brighter note, I guess at least the letter was delivered to my house and not to my parents’!

In the end, I resolved the issue in two phone calls. One to the bank’s fraud team unlocked my credit card without any major issue, and another to my branch updated my contact details, all of which appeared fine.

The whole incident got me thinking that, in this day and age, banks need to embrace the mobile technologies around them to not just improve how they communicate with their customers, but to help them make smarter, more informed business decisions. Common sense would tell you that if a suspected fraudulent transaction were taking place outside of the customer’s home country, then the best way to try and reach them would be via their mobile phone. You know, just in case it wasn’t really fraud.

That common sense can be easily realized by financial services companies today simply by using the geolocation of a customers’ mobile phone as an additional, contextual data point in verifying a transaction. An example of this is the pilot program that Syniverse is running with MasterCard. This service can eliminate unnecessary “false positives,” which, considering the fact that today up to 80 percent of declined transactions are actually legitimate, can mean significant cost savings as well as more satisfied customers.

Driven by the growth of smartphones and mobile applications, the potential of mobile for financial services continues to grow. Whether it’s providing customer-centric products, increasing customer purchases, or providing seamless access to information, it’s imperative for today’s financial services companies to lead the way in realizing the full value of this fast-evolving channel.

Financial organizations have led in the adoption of mobile services, and banking customers are choosing their financial institution based on the mobile services offered, resulting in increased competition. Financial services companies can differentiate themselves from the competition by putting mobile engagement first and offering customers cross-channel, value-added services.

For example, a credit card company could use Apple’s Passbook to support its branded app and present customers with real-time account updates and notifications that don’t require the branded app to be open or to be logged in to an online account. Or a bank could leverage its merchant network to send me offers, direct to my mobile, from partner hotels or airlines for the countries I’m known to travel to most often, or provide me with rewards such as discounted insurance or cash back for using my card while I’m overseas.

That’s putting “ME” first, and that’s going to make me a loyal customer.

What are some areas of financial services that you think companies could use mobile to improve? Do you have any problems with having your credit card denied when you travel abroad? Please let me know your thoughts and leave a comment.

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Paul Kingsbury is a former Business Development Director at Syniverse.

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