Mobile Monday: Communicating Critical App Updates via Email

 

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       Email from US Bank to mobile banking customers (12 Nov 2015)

Last week I wrote about how much I liked US Bank’s new native app. So I understand why the bank is anxious to get users ported over to the new version. Customers are going to like it. Guaranteed.

Yet I was a little surprised, just a week into the new version, to receive an email warning that the previous app was about to stop working (see message above). This urgency makes customers question whether there is something seriously wrong with the previous version. The message is also annoying in that it doesn’t really give the customer any clue as to whether their version is the current one or not. It provides only the version number (2.1.76) which is the cut-off between good and bad apps.

This message has so many weak points opportunities to improve, I put together a top-10 list (plus 2 bonus nitpicks). Here are my gripes more or less in priority order:

  1. I had already updated to the new version, so this message was completely unnecessary. And if the bank doesn’t know which version I’m using, it should say so.
  2. There is no explanation of why all of sudden it was so urgent to upgrade. Skeptical users were left to use their imaginations…not something you want in these days of widely publicized security breaches.
  3. usbank_appversionnumberInstead of talking about version numbers, why not just describe the new app? It looks completely different and a quick description and screenshot would have been understood by 90% of the readers allowing the to move on with their day rather than proceeding through a tedious “find the version number hunt.”
  4. If you must use a version number, then at least explain how to find it. The email didn’t address that key point in the body, fine print, or any of links provided within the message. It’s not that simple to find the version number. You must login, find the hidden primary navigation, choose “About the App” and notice the version number in the lower right corner (see inset). 
  5. If you are going to make such a big change, use a whole number for the new version. In this case, it would be easier to say, “use v3.0 or later.” 
  6. The links provided to update the app did not go to the iTunes update page, but instead went to a marketing page at USBank.com. And the marketing pages, while well done, also did NOT link to the app store update pages. In fact, to confuse things further, the marketing page said the new version “was coming soon.”
  7. The only way to get help was by making a phone call to the general 800 number. No FAQ, email address, chat, or digital way to get help. It wasn’t even a direct line to tech support.
  8. The email message was not optimized for mobile. It was hard to read on my iPhone 6.
  9. It does not specifically address what happens if you don’t update within the next few days; “discontinuing support” has a number of meanings from simply not getting tech support to completely not working.
  10. The bank ended by thanking me for being a mobile banking customer….good. But they could have also thanked me for taking time out of my day to deal with this “upgrade emergency.”
  11. <Nitpick #1> The first sentence of the second paragraph uses “new” three times.
  12. <Nitpick #2> The closing sentence repeats the “enhanced convenience” copy point. This is a generic benefit at best and shouldn’t be invoked twice in a 150-word message.

Bottom line: Customer communications are not easy, especially with newer technology. So make sure to test them with some less-savvy users before hitting publish.

Tuesday Tactics: The Art of Bank-Site Search

37948595_sOne area that’s long been marked “needs improvement” on most banks’ digital report cards is site search. But it’s getting much better. Five of the 10 largest U.S. banks (BofA, Wells, Citi, Capital One, PNC) now offer “autocomplete suggestions” something even Google didn’t fully implement until 2008.

That’s great progress, but even at these digital leaders the search results leave much to be desired. Most FIs still present a laundry list of results with some sorting for “relevance.” For easy searches such as “checking,” all the majors deliver relevant results. But only one takes it to the next level, Capital One (also an honorable mention to BB&T for including thumbnail pictures making results look much more interesting and PNC for including product recommendations for some searches, e.g. “checking”).

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Of the 10 U.S. megabanks, Capital One is by far the winner in our search for good search. They do five things in the initial search that most others do not:

  1. Since search is often related to branches/ATMs the bank includes a link to that at the top of the search page (see #1 in screenshot)
  2. The suggested search terms are well curated (see #2)
  3. Most likely product results are included at bottom with eye-catching graphics (see #3)
  4. The bank does not automatically assume you are a consumer. In this example, they showed links to both consumer (interestingly, only to the 360 product inherited from ING Direct) and business checking (see #4)
  5. The UI is very Google-like with lots of white space and no distractions

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In addition, Capital One’s search results page is laid out in a user-friendly manner:

capitalone_search1

There are five key sections (noted above):

  1. Capital One assumes all searches are “questions” so it provides the most likely answer in a shaded box at the top of the search results
  2. Other curated FAQs related to the search term
  3. Full site-search results
  4. Contact Us section for more help
  5. Feedback loop

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Interestingly, unlike the other nine mega-banks, Capital One does not offer site search directly on the homepage. A search icon is prominently located on the top right, but the bank takes you to a separate page to being the search. I prefer searching directly on the homepage, but that’s not nearly important as delivering relevant and well-structured results.

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Note: We looked at these major U.S. retail banks: Bank of America, BB&T, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, HSBC, PNC Bank, Suntrust, US Bank, Wells Fargo

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FinDEVr2015LogoV2DateWe’ll be delving deep into issues like this at the second annual FinDEVr event for digital bank builders October 6 & 7 in San Francisco.

 

US Bank Adds “Thank a Banker” to Homepage

usbank_thankabanker_boxUS Bank has been on a roll lately, appearing in our blog more times this summer than the 3 years prior. Its latest novelty? A unique “thank a banker” function, complete with smiley face emoji, prominently located at the bottom-middle of homepage (below the fold on my 13-inch laptop). It’s shown to both customers and non-customers.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it. While I don’t see the harm, it would seem to be pretty low-usage feature to warrant homepage real estate. But the more I thought about the more I liked it. It’s great brand positioning, essentially saying, “Hey, look. we aren’t one of those impersonal banks. Our customers love us so much we have to put a box on our homepage to collect all the compliments.”

And then if anyone actually does use it, the bank gets a stream of attaboy/girls to send out to staff. Clever. Hopefully, the bank sends the customer a nice thank-you email (I hadn’t received one 30 minutes after submitting form).

The website function is outsourced to an employee-recognition specialist, OC Tanner an which displays an ewardcenter.com URL to US Bank customers as they fill out the 13-field form, with a hefty 9 required fields (see second screenshot below).

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More importantly, I like the Labor Day loan sale at the top of the US Bank homepage (see below). It’s traditionally a big car buying weekend, so it’s a great time to promote vehicle lending, especially with the still ridiculously low APRs available here.

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US Bank homepage (3 Sep 2015, 10 AM Pacific):

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US Bank “thank-a-banker” form (link):

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Feature Friday: Umpqua Showcases the Closest Branch on its Website

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I’m not a fan of bank branches (except Chase’s NE Seattle outpost, hi Ben). In my view, 80% of what goes on there is better done remotely, and the other 20% just doesn’t provide enough ROI. But if you do have good branches, you should at least use your digital presence to showcase them.

Probably the best example of growing a franchise using branching (at least in the United States over the past 20 years), is Umpqua Bank. It grew from a small community bank to a west coast regional on the back of its innovative branching strategy (Warning! Do not try to copy this, it’s not 1995 any more). So, it’s no surprise that they are one of the more adept FIs in showcasing their local, branch-based services.

Most large banks require users to enter a zip code to personalize the website experience. But even then, you generally have to go to a ATM/Branch finder to locate the closest branch. Umpqua wisely automates this process on both its desktop and mobile website, though it works more seamlessly on the desktop (see desktop example above).

umpqua_open_signThe bank uses visitor IP addresses to showcase branches in their city, but it goes one step further (at least in Chrome), by asking permission to use your location. If granted, Umpqua shows the exact branch closest to you. The branch name, address, and contact info are showcased right across the top of the screen. Finally, and I love this little touch, during open hours, there is an old-school “Open sign” in the right-hand corner. They could go one step further and add the temperature and maybe the time right below.

Those personalization techniques, while quite simple, makes prospective customers feel confident that the bank has a local orientation and really desires their business, whether it be digital or branch-focused.

Not everything Umpqua does is perfect. The bank also attempts to showcase local events on the left-hand column. But in my testing today, they were wildly off base. For instance, it listed a farmers market that was 40 miles away and didn’t mention the one within walking distance.

Help, My Apple Pay is Not Working

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The last few times (3 or 4?) I’ve tried to use Apple Pay it’s not worked. And when that happens at the POS you pretty much look like an idiot waving your fancy phone around and smacking it against the terminal (as if that would help). So yeah, I’m that guy holding up the line (though in my defense, not nearly as long as that person that still uses paper checks).

And besides looking like a fool, when Apple Pay is on the fritz I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to do next. I tweeted this today:

While it may appear snarky, it’s a serious question. When Apple Pay doesn’t work, there is no clear path to resolution. So here is what happened when I tried the various methods in my tweet.

A. Google it

At first glance, there seems to be promising results, including Apple Support. But alas, its FAQ makes no mention of it “not working,” but there was a way to get through the help topics and to an online/phone support area (see C below). And while there is much discussion on the Apple forums, the best advice was to “reboot” your phone, which is surprisingly effective for many.

Grade: Incomplete. While I was able to find Apple support within a few minutes, I had to go to the chatbot for a full diagnosis (see B below)

B. Contact Apple

applepay_support_choicesDuring my Google search I stumbled into the correct area to get to Apple Care support (see A above). While I had to go through a few screens in the self-service area, it only took about 30 seconds to get to the one that offered a choice of online chat, call center (with 2 minute estimated wait time), or alternatively, I could schedule a call (see inset).

As always, I chose online chat. The chatbot was good (not sure if/when a human stepped in), but it took a full 13 minutes to diagnose the problem (including looking up my serial number at the outset). Apple suggested I delete the existing payment card and add the new one, which was the right answer.

Alternatively, if you try to figure out the problem out directly on your phone, a search for “Apple Pay” within the phone (ie. Spotlight Search) directs users to the Passbook app. If you select the “i” button there for more information, you are directed to the bank’s call center (see C below). Alternatively, you can navigate directly to Settings, find Passbook & Apple Pay (below the fold), and locate the bank contact number.

Grade: C >> for the 13 minutes it took through Apple Care chat support

C. Call the bank (BofA)

I had just a single card, issued by Bank of America, hooked to Apple Pay. While I try to avoid call centers if at all possible (though, I have to say, I have been very happy with BofA call center support in the past), I called the number on the back. And while SIRI or whatever they call their voice recognition there, was not able to understand Apple Pay questions (“I hear that you want to make a payment, is that right?”) I was through authentication and to a live operator in about 3 minutes. I’d already figured out the problem during my 13 minutes with Apple Care (old card number), so I didn’t torture BofA and play dumb. But had I not known the answer already, the CSR was prepared to get Apple Pay support on the line for help.

Grade: B- >> for being able to get to Apple Pay phone support within 4 to 5 minutes (though did not test their diagnostic skills)

D. Use the mag stripe

Honestly, if I wasn’t into this stuff for my job, I would have just started using the mag strip card and forgot about Apple Pay until v2.0.

Grade: A >> for the 5 to 7 seconds it took to get the plastic out of my wallet, swipe, and stop holding up the line

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The Fix

bofa_applepay_dontuseAs mentioned in B above, my Apple Pay problem could be solved either through the Passbook app itself or through the Passbook settings within the iPhone Settings area.

Here’s what I saw when clicking on my “card” in Passbook (see inset).

And that was the reason why Apple Pay had stopped functioning. Bank of America had revoked my card a few months ago during a breach related reissue.

But I’m not sure how I was supposed to know that I needed to update my Apple Pay card. I’ve searched my email from Bank of America, but I see no message from them on the subject. (While it could have been trapped by the SPAM filters, that would be unusual for messages from my card issuer.)

It’s completely understandable why the bank would pull my card out of Apple Pay if it was cancelled and replaced by a new number. But they either need to inform me, along with good instructions on what to do next, or better, simply replace my old card with the new one within Apple Pay, with notification of course (see update below).

But that’s probably v2.0 customer support. Until then, I’m glad there’s still a mag stripe as backup.

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Update (19 Aug 2015): Apparently, Citibank is automatically replacing new card numbers into Apple Pay when the old one is canceled. Not sure if this applies to its entire portfolio or selected customers. (Thanks to Ian Kar for the pointer).

Feature Friday: Capital One Helps Users Identify Recurring Charges After Card Reissue

capitalone_mobileCard reissues after a data breach, or lost/stolen situation, are annoying for cardholders. But it’s even worse for the issuer who has to pay for a new card, hound the customer to activate it, handle customer service calls, and then risk losing recurring revenues from now-broken automated pre-authorized charges.

So kudos to Capital One for taking an important step in solving this problem.

Earlier this week I received a new card and number from Capital One, presumably because my card had been involved in a breach. I am not aware of any unauthorized attempts to use it.

In a followup email this morning, the giant issuer reminded me to activate the new card. That’s a fairly typical technique these days. But the help didn’t end there. The bank provided a list of likely merchants where I may need to update card info to avoid the charge being denied (see screenshot below).

That’s great customer service and something I’ve not seen before. But of course I want more. The list I received was primarily merchants where I made one-off payments. Who has a recurring charge with United Airlines? So it needs to be scrubbed better. And it would help to include the most recent charge amount and number of charges to help identify actual recurring charges.

And ultimately, it would be even better if the process was semi-automatic. Let me respond to the email with a simple yes/no response for each merchant indicating if I wanted them to continue the automatic billing under the new card number. Or at least provide links to reduce the friction of the task.

But all-in-all, a welcome improvement.

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Capital One email to cardholder (19 June 2015)

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Delivering High-Touch Service without Breaking the Bank

idea_bank_mobiledeposit_car_rightThere continues to be a healthy debate about the future of bank branches. Usually the focus is on whether bank customers of the future will go to physical branches for help. The answer to that depends not only on consumer preferences (clearly a large segment desires a branch option) but also the cost to deliver on those preferences.

The bigger question: To what extent do consumers want to interact with humans to optimize their financial experiences? And if human interaction is still needed/desired/preferred, how can it be most effectively delivered accounting for cost, effectiveness, customer satisfaction, revenue generation, and so on.

We’ve looked at technology solutions (chat, call backs, IVR, etc.) over the years. But one area we haven’t explored here is the idea of delivering the human help at the customer’s location instead of at the bank’s. I got to thinking about it after hearing an interview with Ron Johnson at today’s Collision conference. Johnson, the mastermind of Apple’s retail stores, and former JCPenney CEO, just launched Enjoy, which adds a human component to the buying process for higher-end electronics (screenshot below, news coverage).

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Like Best Buy’s Geek Squad, when you buy something online at Enjoy, one of its employees actually delivers and sets up your new equipment (currently San Francisco and NYC only) at no extra cost (over retail prices). When pressed on how they could make money doing this, Johnson said they were taking all the overhead expense of a brick-and-mortar location and instead investing it into talented employees who can deliver a better experience at the customer’s location (or at a nearby coffee shop).

Banks can do the same thing. If someone wants to open an account and doesn’t want to, or can’t, do it online, the bank can dispatch someone to take care of it at a location chosen by the customer. This is already the typical model for many financial professionals (mortgage brokers, insurance brokers, business bankers, stock brokers, financial planners, etc.). The key to making it work is to simultaneously downsize physical brand costs, otherwise the mobile bankers are just an added expense.

You can see this idea playing out in Poland, where small-biz focused Idea Bank has deployed four high-tech electric BMW i3 cars (see inset above) to collect deposits from small business customers via an ATM built into the side (see demo here). Naturally, visits from the roving depositories are scheduled via smartphone app, ala Uber. Security-wise, I’m not sure this is the best way to handle cash, but I do like the idea of mobilized bankers.

Bottom line: Branch or no branch, many customers still need the occasional hand holding. It will be interesting to see how that plays out with a smartphone-wielding customer base.