Your consumers are mobile – are you?

With more research showing that Britain is a nation of mobile addicts, the financial service sector needs to embrace mobile quicker and get out from "behind the counter". UK consumers have an insatiable appetite for the internet and a burning desire to have 24hr access across a wide range of devices – none more so than mobile and tablets, writes David Pope

Your consumers are mobile - are you?

With more research showing that Britain is a nation of mobile addicts, the financial service sector needs to embrace mobile quicker and get out from “behind the counter”. UK consumers have an insatiable appetite for the internet and a burning desire to have 24hr access across a wide range of devices – none more so than mobile and tablets, writes David Pope

At the end of 2013 smartphone penetration in the UK stood at 65%, by the end of this year it will have reached 73% and in 3 years’ time 92%.

The nation is not only addicted to mobile, it is hungry to increasingly conduct its online life via the mobile channel. Don’t believe me? Then type ‘mobile’ ‘mobile payments’ or ‘mcommerce’ into a search engine of your choice and you’ll find a whole host of news stories over the past 12 months that will tell you otherwise.

Customers want to be mobile but financial services providers aren’t providing an optimised experience

With smartphone penetration increasing and sales coming from mobile devices also on the up it is clear that there is a consumer demand for shopping from a mobile device – and that includes services such as insurance and bank accounts.

There has been plenty of innovation in the sector – insurance, for example has been revolutionised by the rise of aggregator engines, and short term lenders have innovated from the off as they grew up around the internet naturally lending themselves well to mobile.

We have also seen the banking sector innovate on mobile – recent examples such as Pingit and Paym spring to mind.

Despite this, consumers are still vocally evidencing the growing pains of mobile. This is shown by the fact that 66% of smartphone and tablet owners have attempted transactions from their mobile device and have ultimately abandoned the transaction.

Understanding the issues customers face when shopping from a mobile device

Of those 66% of smartphone and tablet users that had attempted a purchase on a mobile device then abandoned it, 47% did so because the check-out took too long and 41% because it is was too difficult to use the check-out facility on the device.

In order for the financial services sector to capitalise on the opportunity mobile presents they must provide a satisfactory, fast and easy customer experience on a mobile device. While the industry has made progress on the platform it hasn’t gone far enough; we may be able to check balances but when it comes to opening accounts, adding new direct debits and a host of other actions, online and mobile customers are asked to go “in-branch”.

Top tips for making the move into mobile or online AND reducing abandonment

If the financial services sector wants to reduce abandonment and increase customer sign-ups and transactions from mobile devices it is essential that it responds to the changing habits and expectations of consumers. By not responding to the challenge, the sector will start to lose customers and further dent their already damaged reputations and lose further ground to brands not currently in mainstream banking. However by taking the following steps, the sector will put itself in a strong position to rise to the challenge.

1) Reduce new account opening friction – the digital age has seen a drastic decrease in customer patience when it comes to payment and ID verification processes. Customers therefore need to be offered a slick check-out and purchase experience that requires minimal input and most importantly is quick and easy to use. Banks need to seriously consider the impact on customer experience of filling out ten fiddly fields of over 100 keystrokes when their device camera can do it for them and authenticate their ID doc at the same time.

2) Be mobile, completely mobile – banks should look at the progress made by the insurance sector or short term lenders and aim to match them for speed of process, fast approval and removing the necessity for visiting a branch. If you have a service it is imperative your customer can easily access it from a mobile device.

3) Save the process so that customers can return to complete at a later date – due to the nature of the products and services the industry offers the purchase process for financial service products can be lengthy. The nature of the mobile channel enables consumers to fill short gaps in their day from a plethora of locations. In order to address this gap between process and consumer behaviour it is critical that the financial service sector offers ‘save and return’ functionality as part of their mobile offering.

Overcoming a “behind the counter” mentality and embracing innovation

The leading UK banks each conduct about 100m counter transactions per year and if banks are to truly embrace the mobile revolution, they should be aiming to migrate a hefty proportion of those to their mobile and online channels. By following some of the simple steps outlined above, the financial service sector will put itself in a strong position to meet customer expectation, keep pace with changing consumer behaviours and grow sales.