“Cell phones are the latest invention in rudeness.” – D.H. Mondfleur
For anybody that blinked a few times at today’s title, get ready – you’re looking at the new shorthand and slang your employees may need to use with customers a lot faster than you think.
There are some very basic truths banks have learned when it comes to new customer banking channels:
The latest example of this your author humbly submits is the cell phone and text messaging. The last thing any bank technology committee wants to hear right now is that there’s another investment looming that may not yet be in the budget – but, well, there probably is.
First, some background. While banks have been busy building branches and expanding Internet banking capabilities, there is a staggering growth in the adoption of mobile phones and text messaging that can’t be ignored. Consider the following:
The commercial possibilities are not being ignored. Some non-bank examples include Borders, which has started offering snippets of books to cell phone clients and a 10% discount if they buy immediately and pick up the book at their favorite store. USA today is providing certain sections of the daily paper – weather, sports scores – downloaded to the phone. And, by the way, blue-staters can soon expect a request for campaign contributions from none other then Hillary Clinton.
As for banks? Virtually every national bank and some mid-size and community banks have a pilot in place and are carefully tracking results.
One focus is use of cell phones as the Internet banking device, i.e. Internet banking on that itty-bitty screen.
The second focus is customizable messages to customers. Citibank, for one, already has customizable email and wireless alerts (low balance, deposit received, payment due) that can be characterized as “event driven” correspondence. Over time, this will become more customizable by individual users.
Third, many banks, primarily via their call centers, are already determining how text messages will be queued and handled if text is the preferred method of communication.
So, there’s plenty of early action on the mobile front. That said, there are two major issues that need to be addressed before customers take it mainstream:
The first is (no surprise) customer concerns over security. This is being addressed in three ways by early players:
A cell phone virus can potentially get around these measures, but no reports of this have surfaced yet.
The second issue is cost, at least for mobile banking and notices. Unless we oldsters learn fast about unlimited text messages for a fixed monthly fee, we’ll learn about per-message fees the phone companies can charge. The added usage or base fee charges may be a turn-off for people new to text messaging.
That said, it’s time to get ready for whatever may transpire with customers and cell phones. Within the next 1-3 years, that might include:
It’s time to start talking about this if you aren’t already.
How big a role does strategy play in your institution’s technology decisions?
Cornerstone Advisors can help you develop a Strategic Technology Plan that best directs the dollars you invest in technology toward a competitive future.
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