How Financial Advisers Can Use Mobile Messaging To Enhance Relationship with Prospective and Current Clients

Like a wildfire, mobile messaging had a relatively low key entrance to business communication strategies, but over the last few years, the small bush fire has become a rampaging forest fire, as it has swept past the more traditional means of communication to become the preferred communication channel for a vast number of consumers. Before providing an overview of mobile messaging, the attitudes and behaviors relating to its use, its uses outside of the financial services industry, a comparison of its merits with other popular communication methods, and its uses within the financial service industry, a psychographic profile of the media consumption habits of financial service consumers has been developed to assist with future segmentation and targeting. Finally, two case studies have been provided, each illustrating a unique way of using mobile messaging to obtain a competitive advantage.

PSYCHOGRAPHIC PROFILE

Due to the large group that makes up the group of financial services consumers, it was difficult to establish a clear psychographic profile beyond generalizations. The information provided is all backed by studies or surveys of the group. Due to the broad picture painted in the profile, a comprehensive survey completed by Accenture has been used to break the group into four personality types, and specific psychographic data on each of the personality groups has been provided.

Habits

  • Surprisingly, one global survey found that only 30% of financial service consumers check their accounts on their phone; however, 65% browse the internet on their phone, with 56% reading content online. 56% read social media posts.
  • The following graph illustrates financial services consumers’ habits concerning how they have used their mobile phone for banking in the last 12 months. 94% use their mobile phone to check their account’s balance, while 56% use their phone to transfer money between accounts. Similarly, 56% use their mobile phone to receive text or email alerts relating to their accounts.

Habits of mobile bankers

Values

  • Being able to access their financial services provider and insurer is important to financial services consumers. They value simplicity and a “seamless buying experience;” however, they value seeing something tangible in terms of simplicity, personalization, and service excellence.
  • Speed and efficiency are considered the most important service criterion.
  • Although amenable to digital channels, most financial service providers still value the opportunity for face to face contact.

Beliefs

  • There are a wide array of beliefs in relation to the use of mobile messaging in the financial services industry. It is of note that security and privacy in respect to personal data remain major concerns for those using mobile banking.
  • A recent survey found that 42% of financial services consumers believe that their personal information is very or somewhat unsafe when using mobile banking services, which incorporates mobile messaging. A further 15% are unsure how safe these types of activities are.

Attitudes

  • An Accenture survey found financial service consumers have the following attitudes toward technology and data. 75% are alert to issues around data privacy. 39% like traditional approaches. 65% consider themselves confident users of technology, while for 54%, their phone is their principal device.
  • There is a move by financial services consumers toward ensuring organizations are responsible with the personal data they provide to organizations, with an expectation from consumers that these organizations will be open about how personal data is being used and stored. The growing importance to the consumer around how their personal data is used is becoming a differentiator when choosing providers.

Opinions

  • 77% of financial service consumers trust their bank to look after their long term financial well-being.

Lifestyle

  • 49% are prepared to take risks to improve their life. 62% are content with their lives most of the time. Just over half (54%) of financial service consumers say that people seek their advice.
  • Achieving a good work-life balance is important for 56% of financial service consumers. Digital noise and global anxiety are partially responsible for driving consumers to dedicate more time to personal experiences and making the most of their downtime.
  • As a result, there is a move toward “digital detox,” where consumers are looking to move away from the stress of constant social messages, emails, or texts.

The Four Personalities of Financial Services Consumers

  • The above information provides a breakdown of the psychographic profile of financial service consumers. However, it would be remiss not to acknowledge that within this group there is significant variance. A survey by Accenture found there are four personality types among financial service consumers. For completeness a summary of each of these personality types incorporating other elements of the psychographic profile is detailed below.

SKEPTICS

  • Skeptics make up around 16% of financial service consumers. They are described as tech-wary, dissatisfied, and alienated. More than one-third of this group is under 35, meaning while they are currently dissatisfied with financial service providers, they present as long-term opportunities if providers can gain their trust.
  • Only 42% are prepared to take a risk to improve their life. This group is mistrustful, meaning they are less likely to trust their financial services provider to look after their personal data.
  • Skeptics have little interest in integrated propositions around their core needs and often feel let down by the level of customer service provided. They are the least likely of the four personality types to browse the internet, access information, or undertake transactions on their mobile phone.

PIONEERS

  • Pioneers make up approximately 21% of financial service consumers in the US. They are the opposite of skeptics, described as risk-takers, tech-savvy, and hungry for innovation. 50% are aged under 35 and 55% are male. 43% are in the high income bracket.
  • Of note, this group wants to engage with financial service providers via their mobile device, with 87% saying their mobile phone is their principal device for transacting online. They are looking for innovative products, services, and channels; for example, this group is the most likely to use wearable devices.
  • 80% of this personality type are interested in integrated propositions from their financial providers. This group is not averse to risk, with 75% willing to take a risk if it improves their life. This group is the least loyal among the personality types, with around one-third changing financial service provider in the last year.

PRAGMATISTS

  • Pragmatists also make up approximately 28% of financial service consumers in the US. This group is described as ubiquitous and trusting. They are described as channel-agnostic, with 77% not worried what channel is used as long as they get what they need.
  • Technology for this group is not a lifetime passion but rather a means to an end. 79% of this group are alert and cautious about data privacy. Although this group is interested in offers, perks, and tips, they are way about signing up. While Pragmatists want control over their accounts, they are less likely to access them via a mobile device, preferring a desktop or laptop.
  • This group tends to be happy with the level of service they are receiving, but this does not stop them from expecting good value from providers. Although unsure of personalization, they are not closed to the idea. Pragmatists want a fast and efficient service

TRADITIONALISTS

  • Traditionalists make up around 35% of financial service consumers. They are described as tech-avoiders; instead, they value the human touch. This group is fast losing trust with financial service providers, with 13% trusting their financial services provider less than they did a year ago.
  • Generally, they are over 55, with many in the low to medium income bracket. 78% never use a mobile app or the web to contact their financial services provider.
  • Typically, they are uninterested in new products or services, including integrated propositions. Traditionalists value personal contact with knowledgeable staff.

KEY DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PERSONALITY TYPES

  • A breakdown of the key differences between the personality types are detailed in the following graphic.

Differences Between Personalities

CURRENT USE OF MOBILE MESSAGING BY FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

Mobile messaging is used for multiple purposes in the financial services industry ranging from internal office communication with staff to the retention and acquisition of new customers. An overview of the best practices has also been included, along with information relating to compliance. Metrics supporting the use of mobile messaging for each of the purposes are also included.

Internal Communications and Mobile Messaging

  • In late 2019, a systematic review of communication in the financial services sector was completed. It discusses the role that communication plays in effective employee management, the importance of which should not be underestimated. Effective communication plays a role in employee job satisfaction, which contributes to a financial institution’s overall productivity.
  • The strategic management of an organization relies on effective internal communication to engage employees and achieve organizational goals. It also contributes to trust within the organization. Perhaps most importantly, it establishes and maintains the connection between the organization and its employees, and vice versa.
  • The increased competition within the financial services sector has seen customer satisfaction become one of the key measures of success, meaning organizations don’t concentrate resources on employee satisfaction. This approach fails to recognize the role mobile messaging could play in internal communication within an organization, especially given the potential conflict between continued employee satisfaction and organizational agility.
  • While email has been the fallback for employers, the reality is many go unread. Text messages, in contrast, are read 96% of the time. 70% of professionals believe that text messaging should be used for interoffice communications. Adding weight to the argument is the finding of an OfficeTeam survey that found the average employee spends 56 minutes per workday on their mobile phone attending to personal matters. This illustrates that text messaging can be used to communicate valuable time-sensitive information to employees.
  • Text messaging in the financial services sector is used for the following internal communications: HR updates, security alerts, employee incentives, soliciting employee feedback, shift scheduling, reminders, connecting with remote workers, and a host of other communications. Text messaging ensures that employees are up to date with the latest information relating to the financial markets and other critical information.

The Role of Mobile Messaging in Customer Service

  • Research has shown that consumers tried to contact Fortune 100 via text on their business landline over 400,000 times in the last year. Of these attempts, 50% were to financial services companies, illustrating the consumer demand for mobile messaging from financial services companies.
  • The research also showed that 44% of financial services consumers with texting capabilities would prefer to initiate an immediate text conversation instead of waiting on hold to speak with a customer service agent.
  • In addition, 77% of consumers aged 18 to 34 have a positive perception of companies that offer text capabilities, while 88% of financial service consumers find it frustrating to wait by a computer or phone while waiting for customer service assistance.
  • Implementing a mobile strategy is only half the battle; it will not pay off unless the messaging is relevant, useful to the consumer, and engaging. The key to achieving a valuable consumer experience is personalization and segmentation to ensure messaging is targeted at the appropriate groups and improves the overall user experience.
  • By incorporating relevant and personalized content into any mobile messaging strategy, customers develop a sense of security, strengthens their engagement and loyalty. The customer is more likely to feel that the organization values their business. If messaging is overly generic or purely promotional, it can have the reverse effect. Customers may feel undervalued, affecting the relationship between advisor and client and damage the organization’s reputation.

Types of Mobile Messaging Used in Financial Services

  • Some of the ways mobile messaging has been used by financial services companies include:
    • Appointment reminders;
    • Real-time deposits;
    • Fraud alerts;
    • Sending incentives or rewards;
    • Providing reminders of upcoming regular invoices due for payment; and
    • Informing clients when accounts have been processed.
  • The use of mobile messaging to stop unauthorized withdrawals or help consumers monitor their spending levels is becoming increasingly popular. Customers are more likely to feel valued if the messaging is personalized to their needs. This type of messaging includes updates on better interest rates and updates on investments.
  • Financial institutions generally use virtual assistants or chatbots to deal with mobile messaging’s core services, for example, providing account balances. The use of virtual assistants frees staff to deal with more complex issues in a timely manner, which ultimately improves the consumer experience.
  • Mobile messaging is also used for quality control and service improvement. After an interaction between a staff member and customer, mobile messaging has been used to solicit feedback on the interaction to refine future encounters. A recent survey found 47% of financial institutions consider mobile messaging an effective or very effective means of garnering customer feedback.

Best Practice for Mobile Messaging

  • For financial institutions looking to adopt mobile messaging as part of their communication plan, compliance presents the biggest hurdle. There are a raft of federal regulations to navigate when implementing mobile messaging communications. The Telephone Consumer Protection Act 1991 (TCPA) is one of the first things that should be considered.
  • TCPA restricts the use of automated telephone equipment and telephone solicitations. There are large fines if it is not complied with. Any mobile messaging to consumers must comply with this act. This means, when implementing a mobile messaging communication strategy, the first step must be obtaining consent from the consumer. They must be given the opportunity to opt-out.
  • Generally, one-to-one texts require only verbal consent, but one-to-many texts require express written consent. Written consent does not need to be difficult or complex. It should be noted that communication outside of the marketing sphere requires further authorization. It is best practice to make the authorization as specific as possible.
  • When implementing a mobile messaging system, it is essential to realize that it opens the door to two-way communication. Many consumers will look to mobile messaging rather than email or phone calls when they require a quick response. This type of interaction must be “in the moment.”
  • Finally, consumers must be provided with an easy opt-out should they wish to discontinue the communication. The failure to do this has the potential to negate any gains obtained by adopting mobile messaging.

Impact of Mobile Messaging on Retention and Acquisition in Financial Services

  • Financial institutions generally have processes in place for client on boarding and customer satisfaction; however, in terms of customer retention, an approach to linked results has in the past been lacking. Mobile messaging presents as a strong candidate in the customer retention strategies of financial institutions.
  • Personalization is a key component in customer retention, and its status is expected to increase over the next five years. Experts suggest companies that use technological advancements such as mobile messaging will be well-positioned to gain a competitive advantage in this regard.
  • While products play a role in customer retention, the financial services industry (among others) is fast concluding that creating connections and fully engaging customers is crucial. The specific and personal communication offered by mobile messaging provides this opportunity.
  • Financial institutions are also coming to the conclusion that offline channels need to be leveraged alongside digital channels as part of a comprehensive communication strategy. Just as personalization is key in retention, it also plays a major role in customer acquisition. Mobile messaging presents a unique opportunity to provide a personalized experience for each customer.
  • However, to provide this personalized experience, financial institutions will have to implement strategies to collect and collate data for each individual to best understand the challenges and opportunities that are likely to present for each customer. If this data is available, mobile messaging can be adopted that is customized to the user, which will create a unique customer experience, which is fast becoming one of the foundation stones in a long-term relationship with the customer.

THE RISE OF MOBILE MESSAGING AND OTHER COMMUNICATION METHODS

The use of mobile messaging is compared to email, phone calls, virtual assistants, and traditional mail. Although, surprisingly, there is relatively little information available relating to traditional mail. The impact of non-traditional providers and how this has influenced messaging is also included for completeness.

Mobile Messaging vs. Email

  • Texting generates a response rate that is 750% higher than email, and from a customer service point of view, is 60 times faster to complete.
  • One of the advantages of text is it does not require a connection to the internet; it is part of the mobile phone package. Although data is becoming increasingly common as part of a mobile package, receiving email on a mobile device still requires some setup, which the less tech-savvy may struggle with. Mobile messaging is available as soon as a person has a phone number. Adding to this argument, text is relatively cheap compared to data in many locations. Mobile messaging makes a financial services provider more accessible, regardless of income level.
  • Email has, in many respects, become a spam magnet, to the extent important information can get lost in the “noise.” Mobile messaging is more visible to the consumer. The statistics speak for themselves. Consumers read 98% of the texts they receive, yet only 25% of emails get read. 86% of texts are read within five minutes of receipt.
  • Consumers prefer to receive appointment reminders via text as opposed to email (55% vs. 35%). The same is true concerning service outages (53% vs. 34%). Smartphone users are more likely to use their phones for texting than they are for email. 22% of the time spent on a smartphone is spent texting, while only 10% is spent emailing.
  • Although research has not conclusively proven the point, there is a general feeling that text is viewed as a more reliable source than emailing. Texting has proven to be more time-sensitive than email due to it being received immediately (given most people have their phone with them most of the time).
  • Other advantages that mobile messaging has over email include it is more concise and direct, it has a timelessness with most adults and young people preferring it over email, and it is more conversational due to the almost instantaneous receipt with the ability to respond.

Mobile Messaging vs. Phone Calls

  • 64% of consumers prefer mobile messaging over talking on the phone. 30% of consumers would gladly give up phone calls in favor of texting.
  • The number of texts sent and received by Americans is five times higher than the number of phone calls made and received.
  • 76% of consumers do not like talking to businesses on the phone, and data suggests this figure is growing daily. In fact, texting is seven times more likely to get a response compared to a phone call or leaving a voicemail.
  • The time saved by using mobile messaging instead of making phone calls frees staff up for other tasks and potentially increases productivity. While only one phone call can be made at a time, multiple text messages can be sent in a relatively short time period. There is little opportunity for integration with traditional phone lines, whereas texting presents the ability to integrate, scale, and customize messages in a relatively short time period.

Mobile Messaging vs. Traditional Mail

  • While speed and convenience are clear advantages of using mobile messaging over traditional messaging. The concise nature of text messaging is not amenable to sending large volumes of information. Although, in fairness, email offers this same advantage.
  • The ability to integrate mobile messaging into mobile apps to provide the complete package for a consumer. Lending, opening accounts, and day to day transactions can all be completed via mobile apps. By integrating mobile messaging into these apps consumers can receive a response to customer service queries or various applications as soon as the decision is made. The limitations of mail mean that it can take several days to convey information to the consumer.
  • An unintentional result of adopting mobile messaging as opposed to relying on traditional mail is the former presents as a more environmentally sustainable option, which is a crucial factor when choosing a financial provider for some consumers.

Mobile Messaging vs. Virtual Assistants or Chatbots

  • Although seemingly different channels, the reality is, as AI and machine learning technology evolves, the two mediums are becoming increasingly entwined. They will, in time, become the next generation of self-service. The integration of these two channels is largely a result of consumer demand for self-service, which is growing in importance in the financial sector due to the move from in-bank or branch access to demanding 24/7 account access, including customer service.
  • The advancements in technology have seen virtual assistants evolve from “live chat machines to human-like messaging agents.” Mobile messaging takes this process one step further, offering an asynchronous service. This means the consumer is in control of the interaction, as they can begin and end the conversation at their convenience, not the financial service providers.
  • The level of control that consumers have over the interaction has contributed to mobile messaging having the highest customer service satisfaction rating of any channel. A recent survey put this rating at 98%.
  • Bank of America’s virtual assistant, Erica, reached one million users within two months of its launch. Erica provides an AI-driven form of mobile messaging and fulfills many of the primary banking customer service tasks that would previously have required the consumer to speak with a customer service representative. This includes lost and replacement cards, charges disputes, and transactional queries, among other things, which is freeing staff up to focus on areas that require human expertise.
  • Other examples of financial service providers embracing mobile messaging technology include Wells and Fargo, whose chatbot messages consumers directions to the nearest ATM, and Capital One’s Eno enables consumers to pay credit card bills via text. Some surveys have suggested a 20 point advantage to providers using mobile messaging and technology in this manner. From a resource allocation viewpoint, it enables financial advisors to focus on the more complex areas and ultimately contributes to a more comprehensive customer experience.

The Impact of Non-Traditional Financial Service Providers

  • Research completed by Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70% of all customer interactions will involve “emerging tools like chatbots, machine learning, and mobile messaging.” This is up from just 15% in 2018. Although traditional financial service providers have been slow on the uptake, they have been forced to consider the channel by the upsurge in fintech companies leading the surge.
  • However, currently, consumers do not rate the online banking service as easy to use. Bain and Company’s recent survey found that just 44% of online customers and 34% of mobile customers rated their bank’s online service as easy to use.
  • The introduction of non-traditional players, such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook into the financial services market has raised the bar, and the expectation from consumers is that the more traditional providers will rise to the challenge. Surveys suggest that a “more complete digital experience” ranks second in the reasons consumers give as to why they are choosing these non-traditional providers.
  • Mobile messaging makes up a big part of the communication strategy of these non-traditional providers. It is a channel that has been well-received by the financial service consumer, with 61% of consumers reporting it is the easiest and most convenient way to communicate with a business. While mobile messaging may have started as an innovative way to engage a new generation of consumers, it has fast gained traction across the board.
  • Google is an example of a non-traditional provider who is maximizing the potential offered by mobile messaging. The company’s Google Pay users “can send money to contacts using the payment method of their choice as well as claim money sent to them and transfer it directly to their debit card account all through an iMessage or an SMS experience.”
  • Facebook offers a similar service to users to send and receive money through Messenger. While Apple Card has includes 24/7 mobile messaging information in its promotional material, adopting the tagline, “Have a question? Just text.”

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