A few years ago, regional and midsized financial institutions raced to deploy customer-facing mobile apps, afraid of being left behind. When the dust settled, managers at many banks took a look around and realized that their apps were near copies of their competitors’. This was because most financial institutions launched their apps through their core technology service providers, and those firms typically used a similar template for many of their clients.
Today, financial institutions are looking to update their mobile apps — both to tailor them more closely to their own brands and to provide more value to their customers. Here are several ways banks can set themselves up for success as they revamp their mobile apps.
Many financial institutions signed three-year contracts (or longer) with their core service providers for mobile apps. Some regret tying themselves down for so long, but these contracts actually give banks the opportunity to plan out their new mobile apps well in advance. Any financial institutions looking to revamp their mobile apps should begin exploring their options at least a year before their current contracts expire, giving them the time to select the right development team and lay the groundwork for a successful project.
A mobile app doesn’t have to be unique just for the sake of uniqueness, but it shouldn’t look and feel exactly like every other bank’s mobile app, either. More importantly, banks should customize their mobile apps to provide every type of service that customers value, including mobile check cashing, links to the customer contact center, instant messaging with customer care agents and even remote expert advice. Especially in their second versions, banking mobile apps should go beyond basic functions — such as helping customers find branch locations or check their account balances — and replicate the full functionality of the bank as much as possible.
Leverage Existing APIs
Core service providers sometimes claim that they’re best equipped to help banks with mobile apps because they have a deep familiarity with the banks’ IT environments. But in reality, they’re merely tapping into existing application programming interfaces (APIs), which any contracted app developer could access. The top priority in an app development partner shouldn’t be a prior working relationship but rather experience developing mobile apps that provide real value. An organization’s APIs give IT leaders the ability to choose the best fit, rather than merely the most convenient option.
Keep Looking Ahead
Market demands will continue to evolve. A few years ago, customers didn’t even know they wanted to use their phones to deposit checks or to video chat with customer service agents. Today, they demand those capabilities. And a few years from now, banks will once again be racing to deploy a new set of must-have features. Perhaps, customers will expect banking mobile apps to send them a pre-approval for an auto loan when they drive onto a car lot. No one knows exactly what market changes the coming years will bring. What’s important is that banks are flexible enough to respond to them.
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