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With customer engagement the theme of December’s Mobey Day 2018 , Maurizio Poletto, Managing Director at BeeOne / Head of Design, Erste Group Research & Development Lab, explores the considerations, challenges and opportunities for banks ahead of Mobey’s flagship event in Vienna.

Why are challenger banks creating so much hype? Nearly every bank now has a mobile app with cool functionality, so what is it that separates the new kids on the block?

The answer is user engagement. Engagement with their services. Engagement with their brand. Engagement with, well, everything.

Challenger banks are great at creating brand ambassadors. By pushing the boundaries and adopting a customer-centric approach to service delivery, they don’t just attract users, they create believers. And in the digital economy, advocacy equals amplification.

Yet it is the incumbent banks, which benefit from massive scale, that have the real advantage. Appealing to large customer-bases across such broad demographics, however, is tough. Everyone is different. To do so, they must understand what success looks like, how it can be achieved, and what this means for their customers.

More than a numbers game: Measuring the engagements that matter 

In our data driven world, information overload breeds confusion. To successfully engage consumers, banks must understand the kind of interactions they value and, by extension, the KPIs that matter the most.

The inherently addictive qualities of social media and other digital platforms compel us to keep coming back for more. Most would agree, however, that banking apps don’t elicit quite the same draw.

For banks then, focusing on the quality of engagement over the quantity is the route to success; the more efficiently the user can interact with their app, the better.

This means having the right service available at the right time, so the user can quickly and easily get what they need. If action is required, the user should not only be told, but also shown what they need to do and when to do it.

Clarity is the hardest thing of all: Achieving truly good design 

Design is fundamental to delivering high-quality engagement. This is where technology companies and the challenger banks have held an advantage, having developed slick, attractive products.

But truly good design goes beyond a shiny interface. It is holistic.

Unnecessary, complicated technical jargon prevalent across the banking industry can torpedo the usability of even the most elegantly designed app. In contrast, clear and concise language is proven to significantly increase engagement.[i]

Delivering design-led products requires a fundamental, cultural shift away from the ‘banking bubble’ and towards the customer-first approach that has defined the success of the platforms and challenger banks.

Bank of ages: Servicing entire customer bases 

Driving quality engagements through good design is key to addressing one of the most fundamental challenges facing banks – how to successfully service the differing needs of diverse customer bases.

An approach that most banks are currently taking is to stratify their users and deliver tailored products to suit their requirements.

This strategy has its merits. But if we look at the platforms, they successfully engage users across demographic boundaries through a single product.

This suggests that although demographics and profiles are important, it is the quality and utility of the platform that matter most. Regardless of whether you are 18 or 80, a digital native or a traditionalist, simple services that add value are likely to prove ‘stickier’. This should be the foundation of the development process.

 How can we do this? 

Engaging consumers is easier said than done. To help inform and drive their digital transformation strategies, banks are rebranding as tech firms and courting leading tech talent.

Collaboration is also playing a crucial role. Through open discussions, banks can understand the approaches that deliver truly meaningful engagement with their customers. Then, they too can turn users into believers.

[i]The Financial Brand,

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