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Four Challenges Finance Apps Face and How to Conquer Them

Red Russak  //  June 12, 2019  //  7 min read

Convenient access to our finances is key in our global economy, and the mobile channel has quickly become the epicenter of customer experience. However, having convenient access to our finances at our fingertips doesn’t come without unique challenges.

For example, privacy rules restrict the ways financial institutions can interact with customers through their mobile apps. Regulations about how data can be passed through digital channels are tight, and companies must walk a fine line between providing an exceptional mobile experience that meets customer needs without sharing sensitive financial information.

Another challenge comes with the unique loyalty customers feel towards their financial institutions and banks. The lifetime value of a finance customer is higher than most other industries, so when a customer does leave, it’s a much bigger hit to the company. Given this, loyalty and trust between the company and the customer is absolutely paramount. With loyalty comes trust, and financial customers also expect a level of care that is unprecedented in other industries. If trust is compromised, the likelihood of gaining them back as a customer in the future is tremendously low.

We’ve outlined some of the unique challenges financial institutions commonly face, some suggested solutions, and examples of companies who have excelled in conquering these obstacles.

Increasing customer retention

You might see hundreds or thousands of new installs every day, but the true test of a quality app is how many of those customers become engaged and profitable? Only 25-40 percent of new customers re-launch apps a week after download. This number plummets to just 4 percent after a year. And how do you know those customers are actually using your app as opposed to just forgetting it’s downloaded on their device? Instead of focusing on downloads and installs, retention rates are the best indicator of app success.

However, there are some key ways to increase customer retention for your financial mobile app. The first is to launch a VOC (voice of the customer) campaign. Most brands only hear from less than one percent of their customer base, so they miss out on critical feedback from the other 99 percent. If you can solicit feedback from the rest of your customers, you can identify core reasons why they downloaded the app in the first place, what frustrations they have, or if they’re considering leaving the app.

The second is to use proactive engagement strategies and contextually relevant messaging. Instead of barraging your customers with push notifications, learn how to reach them at the right time and place. When it comes to retention, how you message your customers matters just as much as what you message them. Don’t accidentally lead customers to opt out or to even uninstall your app just to escape annoying notifications.

Finally, build trust by letting your customers know you care. In-app messaging provides an opportunity for you to connect with them one-on-one. Providing a seamless customer service experience from one device to another is critical as well. Customers have come to expect high-quality customer experience from their financial institutions because there’s nothing more frustrating than something wrong with your finances. Inefficient customer service is one of the main reasons why customers leave their banks or financial tools. They just can’t afford lackluster service or risk anything when it comes to their personal finances.

One of the best examples of increasing mobile retention within their financial app is Credit Sesame. Tasked with protecting personal financial information, Credit Sesame’s success lies in its ability to earn and maintain the trust of their customers. They were able to build this trust through relationship building and in-app conversations. By improving the app experience and fostering engagement, they saw a 20 percent increase in retention.

In reminding customers you’re listening to their feedback and care about their thoughts, you’ll convey a customer-centric mentality that will let your customers know their opinions aren’t only listened to, but highly valued.

Credit Sesame Apptentive Case Study with Love Dialog

Driving higher survey response rates and extracting more meaning from NPS

According to our App Benchmark Report, the average finance app sees a 33 percent interaction rate and a 22 percent survey response rate. If your app response rates fall below that or you wish your rates were higher, you need to reassess your survey strategy.

Although banking app customers log in regularly, the frequency of their sessions is typically lower than the average rate. This makes it more difficult to capture customer feedback.vIn addition, mobile customers typically have one or two actions they need to quickly take within the app, such as paying a bill or checking account balance, and banks must tread lightly to ensure they don’t interrupt the customer experience within that short window of time.

We recently worked with a global bank that was thriving through traditional channels but struggled to provide a quality digital experience for their mobile customers. The company used surveys in two main ways: first, to ask Net Promoter Score (NPS) to understand customer sentiment, and second, to gather direct feedback from customers around how they could improve features, in-app experiences, and promotions. Although there are privacy regulations around what can be asked through a mobile banking app, the company was certain they’d gather valuable insight and encourage customer participation through surveys, despite their limitations. All in all, they started gathering incredible feedback from their short, monthly surveys. This resulted in a 70-75 percent response rate on average and a steadily increasing NPS score. Once they started becoming highly targeted, they received a 100 percent response rate from their most VIP customers.

We worked with another global financial company that needed a better way to measure customer loyalty with NPS. They could only deploy NPS surveys on their desktop experience and weren’t able to pull that same sentiment from mobile customers. They also wanted to gain more insightful feedback from their customers about their experiences, rather than just NPS. To solve these problems, they deployed a mobile-optimized survey that asked two questions designed to extract more meaning. One was the classic NPS and the other asked for the “why” behind the answer to the first. In just two days, they saw a 17 percent response rate. On top of that, ninety-three percent of respondents gave insightful feedback about why they answered the first question.

Offering stronger security

The issue of digital data security becomes more and more prevalent over the last few months. If there ever was a time to protect customer data, it would be within the finance industry. It’s one of the most sensitive areas for most people and can potentially be the most damaging if hacked. Customers are more vulnerable than ever as they put more and more of their lives online, so it’s important that financial apps protect them as much as possible.

One way to do this is with fingerprint authentication. It’s both more secure and convenient than a complex password. Two apps that have been doing this well forever are Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank. We wrote about their security features back in 2017 when this technology was emerging. Now, U.S. Bank offers Face ID and Wells Fargo has 128-bit encryption to mask sensitive information.

These small, under-appreciated features are ones some financial apps forget about because they’re now expected. But that doesn’t mean they’re any less important. As security continues to evolve and data privacy concerns continue to make headlines, it’s important for financial apps to stay ahead of the game and continue to innovate their mobile app security.

Wells Fargo Mobile App Security

Improving app store ratings and reviews

This is perhaps one of the most common challenges for financial apps product managers. A mobile app with a negative rating serves as a poor reflection of a company and often turns people away from even downloading the app.

For example, as StockTwits increased their focus on the mobile platform, they realized raising their 1.5-star rating would be an important first step. Using Love Dialog combined with the Message Center, they were able to direct questions, concerns, and complaints to customer success managers rather than into negative reviews on the app store. On the flip side, they directed anyone who answered “Yes” to the Love Dialog to leave a positive review on the app store. This helped deflect all bad reviews and fill the store with positive ones. As a result, they dramatically increased their app store ratings from 1.5 stars to four stars.

In-app feedback tools powered the conversations that taught StockTwits what their customers wanted, needed, and expected from the mobile app. Based on these conversations, StockTwits was then able to implement a strategy to regularly fix and improve what mattered most to their customers.

Other financial apps can replicate this success by identifying their fans and pointing them toward the app store. They can then identify unhappy customers, pinpoint problems, and add solutions to those issues to their product roadmap. Ultimately, this will result in more positive reviews and happier customers.

StockTwits mobile app rating increase

How to increase app store ratings mobile product development tool

All in all, very few financial brands have perfected the art of customer-centric mobile experience. Edward Jones has an incredibly strong pulse on the tech industry, yet they have an extremely low app store rating. This could be easily solved by leveraging fans and diverting critics. Even the companies we’ve highlighted in this article have room for improvement. For example, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank run surveys on a large, macro scale. This is a fantastic step but makes it difficult to understand different segments and types of customers. They would benefit greatly from highly-targeted micro surveys.

Although financial institutions often struggle to increase app store ratings, drive response rates, extract meaning from NPS, and retain customers, there are many actionable solutions available. The good news is that Apptentive is here to help you overcome these challenges and implement effective strategies to provide a solid mobile customer experience.

About Red Russak

Red is a relentlessly enthusiastic B2B salesperson with a passion for building communities. Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Red loves tech startups, public service, and community. In his free time, Red moderates the tech startup hub, StartupSeattle, and curates the local StartupDigest newsletter. Driven to help startups and startup communities, Red lives by the mantra ‘give before you get.'
View all posts by Red Russak >

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