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June 25, 2014

Number of Banking Apps Has Low Correlation to Satisfaction

Posted by Rajashekara V. Maiya (View Profile | View All Posts) at 5:22 AM

The Best in Personal Banking Apps [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJDf4L29u6I]

I think I might need an advanced degree in computer engineering to use a few of the apps that my bank has provided me. There are so many apps to begin with. Not all of them are easily accessible nor is it always apparent as to how to go about launching them. I thought online banking was rooted in convenience. Indeed, maybe there's the rub: the distinction between online banking and banking apps.

The influential tech consultancy Gartner Group has even gone on record warning banks that the sheer number of apps offerings could eventually hurt customer satisfaction in a major way. The analysts at Gartner cite two issues in particular. The first is that there are so many apps that banks make available to customers that they've essentially inundated the space. With so many available to one customer, each one gets less and less promotional airtime and therefore less use. If that weren't bad enough, it's a chore for a customer to find the app that she needs. One of the reasons for this confusion is that banks release apps often listed by line of business.

If you're a high-level banking insider, then listing things by line of business is just what you need. But if you're a customer in a clothing store and wanting to withdraw money to make a quick purchase, who needs the hassle of trying to decipher which banking app is appropriate for which transaction - never mind, that many times you can find that list in the first place! Given that apps are tech-intensive, and not exactly a thing of the banker's domain, perhaps their technology partners must accept some part of the blame.

Now I know what you're probably thinking: Why not create an app store that gives customers a menu of apps from which to choose? Well, I remember fondly the days when I could plug my iPod into my laptop in order to play some songs on the computer's speakers. It was a simply and straightforward affair. At no point did the apps store automatically open - as it does now. Just because I'm playing music doesn't mean I'm in the mood to shop for apps. Using that same reasoning, why should a customer who wants to transfer cash from one account to another have to face a wall of menu items that present more choices than is needed? The organization should be attempting to whittle down the offerings in order to ease the process of finding the right one, not ramping up those offerings. In fact, Gartner recommends taking a cue from the online advertising world. There's nothing wrong with a banner that reads "click here for your XYZ app." Remember: As a bank, you should be in the practice of facilitating all aspects of the user experience, not making it downright intimidating.

So, go on and let your bank's apps be available on public stores right alongside the apps of other industries and sectors. Why? Because, like it or not, those stores are where the customers are. There are a million apps each on Apple app store and Google Play. And despite my annoyance of having to open up the apps store each time I play music on iTunes, it's a simple fact of life that apps stores automatically open when you perform certain tasks. So on a mobile device that runs iOS, you're going to have to have iTunes running to download the right banking app.

In the long run, banks should be focusing on making their apps music to the ears of customers instead of a jumble of confusing options. These apps must be contextually relevant, they must be simple to discover and simple to use. And of course, these apps must address a customer's need and not just be the next "cool tech thing". It's all about creating a positive digital experience.

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