Even lenders with the best analytics and decision management platforms often struggle to communicate advice and offers to customers. Wouldn't it be great if they could do so via a low-cost channel that their customers actually enjoy using, and thus is likely to yield more and higher-quality responses?
Together with Telrock, our partner and experts in mobile digital communications, we’ve been talking to Australian banks about how they can improve customer service and dialogue, while decreasing costs. According to research by Google, Australians have gone from “lagging to leading” in the smartphone revolution, with the second-highest smartphone penetration in the world, at 37%. And if your customer base is already actively using the technology, it makes sense to leverage it as a communication channel of choice.
Some Australian banks are using SMS messaging to alert customers about potential fraud on their credit cards, or to remind them about payments due once they are delinquent. But these communications tend to be one-way only. As such, they typically drive customers to contact call centres, where they may speak to an agent—which many would prefer to avoid, especially if they are busy or in financial difficulty. Or worse, they reach an automated IVR system, which takes them through an often painful and sometimes lengthy process of capturing needed information.
A far better approach is to use two-way SMS messages. This enables customers to have an SMS dialogue with the bank, and even to pay via SMS so they don’t have to contact the call centre. This approach can be combined with web portals, built for and accessible from smartphones (or any web-enabled device or computer), as well as web apps specific to smartphones.
How does it work? Well, the key is to offer the service to customers when they speak to a call centre agent or conduct their internet banking. Agents can collect relevant information—such as mobile number, email, Facebook details and payment details—and log these in a secure environment. The customer then gets an SMS message containing the terms of the new service, and can agree (or decline) to use the service.
Once customers sign up, the service proves to be incredibly useful and effective, particularly in three areas of the customer lifecycle:
- Fraud alerts: When a suspicious transaction is detected, transaction details are sent to the customer, who can determine whether it’s fraudulent and whether the card should be blocked.
- Paying a delinquent account: Making payments, promise-to-pays and payment plans can be automated via SMS messages. The customer gets an SMS reminder before the payment is due, with details of the payment amount and date. They can then send a return message agreeing to the payment, or alternatively opt to pay a different amount (subject, of course, to the bank’s pre-set business rules).
- Account originations/servicing: Account originations can be greatly simplified using mobile services. Customers can apply for new products via mobile apps or mobile web, or even upload identification documents, such as driver’s licenses, via smartphone cameras. This channel is also great for account servicing, including account activations, spend/discount offers, line increase offers, balance transfers and so on.
I’ve only scratched the surface of possibilities for this communication channel. As we've discussed these opportunities with banks over the past week, their excitement has been incredible. I’m certain we’ll be seeing many of them expanding their use of mobile services in the very near future.