What a difference a few years can make.
Today, an estimated 91 percent of American adults own a cell phone, with 56 percent owning smart phones. According to the Pew Research Center’s survey, Cell Phone Activities 2013, phone calls are no longer the primary use. Rather, texting, browsing and sending/receiving email are the prevalent activities – functions that have spiked in popularity since 2009:
- Texting has grown from 65 percent to 81 percent.
- Email usage has increased from 27 percent to 52 percent.
- Going online has exploded from 29 percent to 60 percent – and 34 percent of these users say their cell phone is the primary device they use to access the Internet.
The survey also found that large numbers of phone owners download apps (50 percent), get directions or recommendations (49 percent), and listen to music (48 percent). It’s no wonder the History Channel has called the smart phone the number one gadget of the past 100 years.
Put cell phones to work for you
For financial institutions, this widespread use of and devotion to cell phones can work in their favor.
Many have asked consumers about their communication preferences and then sought permission to use these choices to send promotional notices and operational updates. As a result, users are receiving eStatements, account updates, balance alerts and loan payment reminders – all in real time.
In addition, more institutions are expanding their online banking programs to include mobile-friendly options like remote deposit, online safe deposit boxes, instant loan approvals, and email/text transaction receipts.
And a growing number of tech-savvy institutions have taken mobile technology even further, creating apps that position them as trusted financial advisors. One example is a shopping comparison app that gives members advice on item pricing, how much they can afford to pay and the best payment options available.
All of these mobile abilities share an underlying objective: to bring 24/7 convenience and service to consumers. It’s expected in today’s smart phone dominated world – and ignoring the influence of mobile devices can spell trouble for marketers in the future.
Think mobile to connect with members
No matter where your credit union is on the technology spectrum, there are steps to help you enhance your mobile communications. Consider these:
Collect customer contact points
To leverage technology, create a process to collect members’ email addresses and cell phone numbers, in addition to their home addresses and land line numbers. These should be collected in a central location, with the ability to share data with other technologies. And make sure this database is easily updated by any user (even the members themselves).
Unlock online banking
If you require enrollment in online banking to access new technologies, you are missing part of your membership. Multi-factor authentication doesn’t have to be used only for online banking. Make stand-alone setups available to all members to let them select the products and features they want.
Use technology enhancements to reduce dependency on expensive branch networks and transition from online banking to mobile and tablet banking. Identify the functions your members can use through online banking but can’t do on a tablet or through a mobile app – and change them.
Think mobile marketing
At a recent ABA Marketing Conference, USAA revealed that 8 percent of its product sales come out of the mobile channel – a channel that users look at an average of 150 times per day. If your financial institution isn’t looking at mobile marketing options, you’ll likely regret it in the very near future.
No matter their age or technical know-how, your members are doing more on their cell phones than at any time in recent past. Increasingly, consumers are embracing the benefits and conveniences afforded by mobile technology. Their expectations for speed, service and accessibility are changing. To succeed into the future, financial institutions – including credit unions – must keep pace.