There is a lot of talk about mobile banking today, and with good reason: everyone is using mobile devices. This trend is predicted to continue in the coming years – network outreach is expanding rapidly, the cost of smartphones are decreasing just as rapidly, and innovations like Google’s Project Loon are poised to bring broadband connectivity to even the most rural of locations.
Mobile banking, for example, essentially removed the need for a loan officer to travel to a village to collect repayments: therefore missing the opportunity to spend time with borrowers, and build a personal relationship with the community. This could result in customers not being as motivated (or not remembering) to make repayments on time; not thinking of the institution as a first go-to option when they need other services; or not realising that the service they need may even be available.
To succeed in expanding mobile access to financial services in developing countries, where financial transactions involve more personal interactions between banking representatives and customers, inclusive financial institutions must take steps to infuse the process with the personal experience of face to face financial interactions their customers have become accustomed to.
How can banks keep the “human touch” in mobile banking? Here are a few suggestions:
Make your mobile site “friendly”
Just because a site is mobile-optimized does not mean that is must lose its ‘local friendly’ approach. Focus on a design and features that appeal to local customers: easy-to-understand information, simple navigation and even the choice of colours can all make a difference. The best way to do this is by involving the customers themselves in the design – read some articles about the “human centred design” approach in our library
Put contact information on your mobile app or mobile website
Make sure your contact information is prominently displayed on the main page of your mobile website, or on a prominent, clickable tab. This will encourage customers to interact and communicate with your bank on a regular basis, and remind them that you are still real people who think of them as real people.
Encourage social media
Encouraging customer feedback via social media is a great way to learn what customers are thinking and communicate your customer focus. Include staff photos and bios on your mobile website.
Include your staff’s photos and some background information on your mobile website
This instils a sense of personal service and credibility in the minds of local users.
Of course, mobile banking does not replace the need for personal relationships with customers. Mobile banking should supplement normal operations, helping minimize (but not eliminate) costly personal visits to village borrowers and focus more on maintaining the existing relationship with the banking institution.
Instead of collecting repayments in the field, loan officers can use their time to build relationships, spend more time understanding the needs of the communities they work with, and even cross sell other services. These small things can merge the idea of friendly, human interaction with mobile banking, without losing the personal touch that people are so accustomed to in banking in their hometown. Technology is a great thing, but it is only as great as the people who use it, and only as efficient as the customer thinks it is.
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