Something New

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For the next couple of blog entries, I have decided to switch things up a bit. I am going to be visiting banks around the Nashville area, and fill you in on my experiences, thoughts, and overall feelings I get from each branch. I will visit big banks (Wells Fargo, Bank of America, ECT.) and smaller community banks.

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  • Because I need to take on the daunting task of opening a credit card, my first few entries will consist of experiences from that adventure.

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  • Next, I will explore the social media practices, or lack thereof, from specific locations.

 

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  • Finally, I will fill you all in on the customer experience, location and environment of the small “farm town” banks, as well as the bigger market banks in downtown Nashville.

 

I am really looking forward to the next month or so. Because these entries are going to consist of customer related topics, I REALLY would appreciate any feedback, questions or topics that you would like to see blogged about.  

I hope you all enjoy the ride! 

 

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Local. Mobile. Social.

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One of the last sessions I had the chance to sit in on at AOBA13 was “Local. Mobile. Social. Profitable. Checking.” This particular session featured Mike Branton and Dave DeFazio from Strategy Corps. Strategy Corps provides consumer checking solutions that generate customer-friendly fee income by building better banking Imagerelationships with individual and local small business customers, and incorporates innovative mobile phone delivery of services and focused social media messaging that really connects with customers. I personally thought this session was great! They introduced their product BaZing, and talked about the three main areas they try to touch

Mobile:

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Through the use of mobile devices, the consumer is able to do many things that can help them out with purchase decisions. They can benefit from the use of coupons, compare shopping prices and find location based offers. Banks can really take advantage of the whole mobile phone trend, not only by providing a mobile banking app, but also by offering these services to their customers. 

Social:

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Through social media, you are able to reach out to an unlimited amount of people relatively easily. Unlike many other businesses, people don’t bank because they want to, they bank because they have too. To make the customer experience memorable it is important to generate unexpected and unselfish communication. 

During the session, it was revealed through a survey that 51% of bankers did not have a Facebook, while 49% did. Also, what I thought was surprising was that only 22% had an active email marketing plan, while 82% did not. 

Local:

ImageFor community banks, it is important to remember the word COMMUNITY. More often than not, these banks are the ones who support local businesses. Because of this, it is critical that they push their customers to support local retail businesses. This can be accomplished by rewarding people for buying locally. Mike Branton said, “It is important to be a community connector. Get local retail customers connected with local retail businesses.”

Through their innovative checking account, Strategy Corps offers benefits that people want to pay for. Not only is it an additional way to generate fee income, but it is a way to be better engaged with customers. It is safe to say that BaZing, and the entire concept behind it sure passes the test from this Generation-Y’er

 

Are You Ready?

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The other night a group of my friends and I went out to dinner. After taking full advantage of the 2-1 pizza & beverage deal, we figured it was time to head home. We asked for the check, and all proceeded to pay. Each and every one of us used a card, not one person had cash. Then, I started to think back to past outings, and realized that it is always the same. It seems to be a very rare occurrence that any of us have physical cash on us.

After this revelation, I wanted to do some more digging. I opened up my handy dandy Bank of America app for the iPhone, and looked at some of my latest purchase prices. They are as follows:

  • $4.83
  • $4.69
  • $5.03
  • $1.07 <– my personal favorite.

These prices are pretty embarrassing to charge to a card, but is that becoming the new normal? There have recently been a lot of talks about transforming into a “cashless” society. A blog I read on BankNXT titled Imagining a Cashless Future talks about what that future could look like. Melanie Friedrichs says “Financial innovations come in many shapes and sizes, but for the most part they all follow a general trend: they turn physical processes into digital ones. The so-called “payments revolution” has often made me wonder what will happen when innovation manages to displace the most physical aspect of finance, cash.”

If in fact we are moving in that direction, will the idea take off among older generations, as it has with Generation-Y? An article on MyBanktracker.com talks about how some current and future generations understand that money is money, even if you don’t necessarily see it. The author of the article Simon Zhen notes “many proponents of cash argue that cash offers psychological feedback — it “hurts” when you see money leave your wallet. A recent experience tells me that, in the future, we will be able to feel the pain of spending, even if it’s through electronic payment methods.” While older generations are used to making cash payments, many young people are only familiar with card transactions. The same psychological element of cash may not be the same as was once believed.

I am very excited to see the next round innovations that are beginning to roll out to push a more cashless society, but I have a feeling many will not feel the same. What do you think; are you ready for a cashless society?


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Hit or Miss?

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For the past week I have been reading a lot of articles about Green Dot. For those of you who are not familiar with Green Dot, they are a leading provider of pre-paid debit cards. Just recently they announced their new mobile banking account GoBank. This product will focus on mobile wallet capabilities, payments and location based mobile marketing services. They offer custom visa debit cards, mobile deposits, a massive ATM network, online checkbook and person to person money transfers.

An article on Bankinnovation.net goes into more detail about the actual product, and what they expect from it. Here are of some of the innovative features that GoBank offers:

                                                  Fortune Teller (a PFM tool)

ImageP2P Social Payments from Facebook notifications, email or mobile number

ImageOnline Checkbook 

ImageCustom Debit Cards

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Mobile Deposit

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Two really neat features that they also offer are no overdraft fees, and they have a voluntary monthly fee that users can choose to reward or penalize Green Dot based on how they like the product. In the age of online and mobile banking, that is a way they chose to embrace customer relationships with the users.  Their main goal is to reach the “un-banked consumers”.  An article on Fox Business talks about how Green Dot Aims to Take On Banks With Its Mobile-Based Account.  In the article, it explains that “Green Dot is trying to cast a wider net by going after consumers who are dissatisfied with their traditional bank accounts as well as younger, tech-savvy consumers who constantly use mobile phones, thanks largely to social-networking apps.

This new and innovative banking approach seems to be spot on with Generation-Y customers. With social media being integrated into the platform, personal financial management tools, low fees for service and payment capabilities, we could possibly be looking into the future of banking.

I am very interested to see how GoBank is received, and if it is as successful as I believe it has the opportunity to be.  I am sure there will be a lot of mixed feelings about this innovative banking technique. What do you think about GoBank? Is this new way of banking a hit or miss? 

Back To School.

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Upon graduating from college there were many things that I was excited about. The ending of one chapter and beginning of another is something that is very exciting and overwhelming all at the same time. Soon after getting a job I realized that the real world wasn’t as fun as I once believed. There is no more sleeping until 11, no more extended vacations, and so much more to learn. Learn, you may ask? Yes. You learn pretty quickly that there was a lot of information that you never learned in college. Things such as knowing how to pay your taxes, which health insurance plan to choose and how to properly take care of your finances

I may be speaking for myself, but I truly believe that there are a lot of people out there, like me, who have had joint accounts with our parents for years. All I ever go to the bank for is to get cash, in the rare case I actually need cash for something, or to handle a slight case of bank card security (see my last post). I can make deposits, account transfers, and even pay my friends or landlord with Person 2 Person technologies right from the couch. With all of this great technology it makes banking very simple, but I still feel like there is so much more to learn about what the bank has to offer its customers. 

This is where I think banks can really use this to their advantage. I think that banks can do a much better job of educating their customers on the services they provide. This has a lot to do with the fact that Gen-Yer’s are the next generation who will be getting their first time mortgages, car loans and making many other complex financial decisions. 

There was an excellent article on Forwardbanker.com entitled Professor + Banker = Happy Customers. I feel like this article hits the nail right on the head. Martie Woods says “Like teaching, banking should be an active process in which bankers introduce tools, resources, knowhow and connections to elicit the desired outcome in their customers or members.” He also asks the reader to look back on their past educational experiences. He notes that classes students were most engaged in were the ones the teacher “continually reached into their bag of tricks and pulled out different approaches, tactics, knowledge and motivators that engaged and inspired their students.”

An excellent way that banks could reach the Generation-Y demographic is if they can find a way to make the bank less intimidating and unknown, and more of a place that is welcoming and informative. By educating your customers, it will not only create a customer for the time being, but it could just create a customer for life

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Endless Opportunities

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Over the past few weeks I have been reading a lot about bank innovation from both a digital and physical branch side. I have discovered a ton of very unique branch ideas, technology upgrades and innovative programs that are truly going to change the face of the bank. National Australia Bank, now have a social media command center, which has been put in place for the sole purpose of engaging with customers. A bank in Lebanon, Bank Audi who I mentioned in my previous post, has set up innovative kiosks in malls and public areas. Also, a Citibank branch in Singapore is located in the middle of a train station and looks nothing like a bank.

It seems like all of these banks are taking giant steps in the right direction. I read an article the other day written by Simon Zhen on MyBankTracker.com, and it talked about the 7 things foreign banks do better. All 7 are very great, but I am going to talk about the 2 I personally think are the best for attracting Generation-Y.

  1.  Near-field communications (NFC): Barclaycard

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This is a very neat service they are offering for free to their 23.5 million plus customers. It is a sticker that can be placed on any mobile device to make contactless transactions.

It is not a surprise to anyone that Generation-Yer’s have our smartphones attached to hip pretty much. (I know some people who even use their phone as a mirror). Therefore, the idea of having the ability to pay for anything with the swipe of a cell phone is something that is very exciting for me. Because I was not quite sure about how this works, I visited the website and was very surprised at the ease of use. Go ahead and take a look.

You can check out a video for more information here.

2. Social media integration: ICICI Bank 

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This service provided by ICIC Bank in India allows their customers to access and manage their bank accounts directly through Facebook. Their customers can do many things such as check account balances, request email statements and many other very convenient transactions.

With over 1 billion users around the world, it seems like Facebook would be the perfect platform to launch something like this. According to Zhen, “In the U.S., Citi, American Express and Chase have launched successful campaigns on Facebook, but they’ve refrained from offering account access.”

Click here to check out their Facebook Application.

What is very interesting to me is that none of these banks are located in the United States. The United States of America has the world’s richest banking market, consisting of around 90,000 branches. I think it might be time for us to take a look around and see what other countries are doing. The opportunities could be endless.

The Next Step ..


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In my last post I talked about how banks are beginning to undergo extreme make overs. This initiative has been started to draw customers back to branches, and redefine the industry. While it is a great, and long overdue idea, there are also some other innovative approaches I have discovered that are being introduced to the market. 

Diebold, a services company who provides innovative technology solutions that enables their clients to maximize their self-service capabilities, has recently introduced an ATM that mimics the users experience of their mobile devices. This ATM is the first to use mobile devices through cloud technology. Customers are able to complete secure, cardless transactions through this innovative machine. It also uses many of the same touch screen features many of have on our smart-phones. 

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In an article on 4-traders.com, Diebolds executive vice president Frank A. Natoli says, “Mobile devices are driving user experience expectations in all facets of commerce. It was only a matter of time before the familiar multi-touch interface style made its way to the ATM. With the burgeoning buying power of the Millennial generation, Diebold envisions this technology will further influence user experiences at the ATM.”

A video on bankinnovation.net gives a preview of the new ATM.

Another very unique innovation I stumbled upon was the Novo kiosk, which has been created by Bank Audi. This kiosk makes customers the top priority. Through this device, customers can access many different banking solutions through touch screen ATM’s, or use a private video conference room to speak with bank staff.

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Mr. Raymond, Audi’s Chairman and General Manager says, “Novo” is an innovative concept created by Bank Audi with customers as a top priority, since it consists in giving them full control of a world of interactive banking solutions. Customers can indeed navigate flawlessly on multi-touch interactive screens offering them tailor-made solutions to their personal banking needs, thanks to a cutting edge technology and a user-friendly interface.” These kiosks will be set up in malls and public locations all over Lebanon, and then hopefully all around the world. 

Here is a link that previews the Novo kiosk. 

It is really neat to see all of these innovative concepts being presented. Now that banks finally seem to be getting on board with the whole technology thing, I guess the next step is flying cars, it is 2013 right? 

Extreme Makeover: Bank Edition

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I honestly cannot remember the last time I actually stepped foot inside a bank. However, the last time I used a service provided by my bank was yesterday.  With services such as mobile banking, online banking, and ATM’s there is really no need to go to a bank at all, right? I think this is a question that a lot of people, especially around my age, ask themselves. It has become a habit to take pictures of checks to deposit, check out account balances on our phones or computers, and even pay our friends and landlords with person 2 person technologies.

It’s funny to me that many of us (Gen-Yer’s) still visit many physical locations for services we need provided. So why does going to the bank seems as painful as going to the dentist?

 Here is a picture of a current bank interior:

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Now don’t get this picture confused with a DMV, because the images are very comparable. The look, vibe, and atmosphere can be somewhat similar; no one really wants to actually be there. You can wait in line for 30 minutes, only to find out you have to wait in another line because you weren’t in the right place. This is not the customer experience I believe many banks are looking to provide. With changing times and technology, I would assume it is time for a change in the branch atmosphere as well.

Here are a few pictures of new look bank interiors:

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Photos from – Branch Showcase: Experimental Concept Stores & Flagship Designs

These innovative branch interiors have transformed the banking experience into one that can actually be enjoyable. There is a great article I read in The Economist that talks about the new look of banks.

“This is a bold attempt to entice customers into a branch that looks nothing like a bank: there are no doors to keep robbers out, no counters to shelter cashiers. Instead there are massive touch-screen televisions on the outside walls and gleaming white benches with tidy rows of Apple computers. Neatly dressed assistants brandish iPads with smart black leather covers.”

By using technology and more personal touches, the hope is that it will attract more customers back to the bank. It is believed by many that bank branches are dying, which is not the case at all. The Economist article stated that In America, which is still the world’s richest banking market, the number of branches and offices has risen by 22% since 2000, to almost 90,000”. This is because of the fact that people think money is special and they want to make sure that their cash is safe.  So it is safe to say that bank branches aren’t going anywhere.

The whole idea behind the new look bank is to draw in more customers. By providing a great customer experience, not only are you making your customers happy, but you are getting the best form of marketing, word of mouth. If banks can become a place that people want to go, instead of a hassle, it will re-energize the industry. 

 

What Do We ACTUALLY Want?

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The looming question of what Generation-Y wants is something that has been somewhat of a debate for a while now. I think there tends to be a huge misunderstanding of what YOU think we want, and what WE actually want. Companies spend tons of money trying to reach this specific target market using tactics that may or may not work. Instead of making assumptions as to what will get our business, it is important to understand what we actually want.

So what ACTUALLY gets Generation-Y’s attention?

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ConvenienceWe love when tasks are made convenient.Not because we are lazy, but because that is the way everything is now. Convenience is crucial to many people now days because everything is starting to become automated, or very easily accessible. A very telling statistic is that 80% of Generation-Y takes advantage of online banking every month, which is a higher percentage than any other age group. An article by Truaxis Insights highlights the differences of banking habits between Generation-X and Generation-Y.

Trust/adviceToo many companies try and pressure us to buy, while not enough take the time to actually give advice or explain why it will be good for us. While many people are taking advantage of online and mobile banking, there are a lot of us who need advice and consultation on major financial decisions that we are beginning to make.  We are the generation who are trying to get a first mortgage, car loans and other more complex financial transactions. Don’t forget about us, although we may not admit it, we still need advice!

Spice it up a bit.Let’s face it; banking can be pretty… dense. Finding ways to make it more of an experience, rather than a chore would add a lot of interest from Generation-Y customers. There are many techniques that would allow for this. Loyalty reward programs, incentives, and gamification are just a few examples of ways to spice things up and make banking more of an experience. The Financial Brand has a great article about gamification techniques used in the retail banking space.

Generation-Y is the generation of the future. In order to get us on board now, it is important to understand us. So my question is, do you understand what we are ACTUALLY looking for?

Generation-Y NOT?

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When it comes to Generation-Y, or “millennial’s”, there seems to be a lot of confusion. No one really knows exactly when this generation started, so for the sake of my blog, I am going to say that Gen-Yer’s are individuals born between 1980 and the early 2000’s. With those parameters put in place, there are approximately 80 million people living in the United States today that make up Generation-Y. There are a lot of common perceptions about them as well. Generation-Y lacks knowledge and experience, has a poor work ethic, and lacks social skills, just to name a few.

I’m sure that many of you have heard those before, or have thought them. Don’t worry I won’t hold it against you, but I will try and prove you wrong. There has been a lot of research done to try and get a better understanding of Generation-Y, because whether you like it or not, WE are the future. After doing some of my own research, I was amazed by the generalizations that have been made about my age group.  

As a result, I decide to go find facts that would debunk each of the aforementioned misconceptions placed upon my generation.

Perception: It is believed that Generation-Y lacks knowledge and experience. 

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Maybe that is true from a corporate stand point, but where we lack corporate experience we make up for it in our mission to be successful.  My generation has been known to be very proactive, innovative, and entrepreneurial.

Perception: Generation-Y has a poor work ethic.

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Nearly 2/3 of all millennial’s have full or part time jobs, and 35% of us have started our own business on the side to supplement income.  This doesn’t seem like such a bad work ethic to me. 

Also, it is important to keep in mind that a majority of us have entered into the work force during a time of economic hardship. Since day one we have been working from the ground up to be successful.

Perception: Generation-Y lacks social skills. (This one blows my mind)Image

Nearly 75% of us have created a profile on a social networking site, and communicate daily with friends via text messaging. Just because this is different form social activity than in the past, doesn’t mean we are less social. 

Here are some addition facts that I found to be very interesting about Generation-Y:

  • More than 60 percent of them pay off their credit card balances in full. 
  • 2025, 75% of the world’s workforce will be from Generation-Y
  • Generation-Y will have more spending power than any other generation.

It is clear that this is the generation of the future, so my question is Y-NOT embrace Generation-Y and what we encompass? Even though it is different, times are changing, and this generation will be in control before you know it!