Au contraire.

Picture integrating a brand-new feature into your banking app that you know is destined for greatness. Something that’s so well-designed, convenient, and customer-centric that you naively assume its adoption will be suitably organic – instantaneous, even. Except, that’s not the case. Because a few weeks in, and adoption has been so slow that it’s hardly worth mentioning. Skip ahead a few months, and still no-one’s using it.

Could you have done something differently, you find yourself asking? We’re glad you asked.

Different strokes for different folks

It’s a well-known fact that the behavioural patterns of banking apps users differ greatly from one to the other. Considerations like age, background, tech-savviness and financial literacy all factor into the equation, especially when change is afoot.

In one camp, for example, are users who become so set in their ways that when something new comes along, it has little effect. In their 2018 mobile banking scorecard, Javelin summed it up well in saying that many users have “well-worn paths within their banks’ mobile apps”, typically navigating in exactly the same way, to exactly the same item, with each new visit. When things change for these users, they tend to stubbornly stick to their familiar paths, either too comfortable and content with what they’ve come to know and use, or too scared to try something different.

In another camp are more adventurous users who are undoubtedly interested in new features and functionality but never get around to using them. Research by Fiserv (via The Financial Brand) uncovered various reasons for this anomaly, including that nearly half (46%) of users are confused by the array of products on offer these days, while one third (33%) say they don’t know how to use them. Eight out of ten users also worry about data security and privacy.

There are, of course, also the small group of who wait impatiently for their banks to offer the latest new capability that they know is already out there. In contrast, another small group of people methodically read through and assess everything they receive from their bank and make well-thought-out decisions about a service’s applicability to them.

A consumer report on app-based banking and payments from earlier this year revealed that 71% of Americans would use their banking app more frequently if it were more innovative. In Germany, 62% of consumers in a similar survey said the same, so it’s safe to assume that people in other parts of the world would share the same sentiment.

The long and short of the matter is that most people are willing to try new things – some are even begging for it. But change can make people nervous and confused, especially when it involves technology or security principles they do not understand. They need some hand-holding along the way, presenting both a challenge and opportunity for banks launching new banking app products, features and services.

How to lend a helping hand

There’s a fine line between helping customers navigate a new offering and smothering them with too much information. For banks, striking the right balance is critically important. Though getting it right could produce happy customers and a clear competitive advantage, getting it wrong could have a devastating effect.

My experience with new product launches is that success is intrinsically linked to educating existing customers – a step that is often downplayed when, actually, it should receive as much attention as the technology’s acquisition and implementation. The big, splashy media launches are important, too, but to achieve a different goal: attracting new customers.

In terms of the basics, a good start is to name a new product or service, as it immediately provides an identity for the functionality and makes communication around the subject far easier. Choosing something that alludes to the functionality and benefits of the new product also makes it more memorable to those who end up using it.

Next, formulate a key message that focuses on the positive aspects of the new functionality, what it can do for a customer, and how they can benefit.

Then, execute a well-planned PR campaign before the launch of a product, and include press releases, articles and interviews produced and pitched by a PR or media partner, as well as a pre-launch event. The event will provide an ideal opportunity to address members of the press and provide them with all the information they need to take your message to the public.

To minimise stress for existing customers, ease pressure on call centres, and drive adoption, it is recommended that educational campaigns start as early as feasibly possible with advanced, highly visible notices about the new functionality, its benefits and opportunities.

Suggestions include:

  • Prominent notices on a bank’s website homepage, Internet banking portal, and mobile app;
  • Email and SMS marketing campaigns;
  • A dedicated micro-site that includes a list of features and benefits, comprehensive FAQs, a video presentation, and an interactive demo;
  • Printed collateral that can be posted and displayed in branches;
  • Sustained coverage and customer assistance on social media;
  • Recorded messages for customers that use call centres or telephone banking services.

These actions and materials also provide the opportunity to draw customers’ attention to existing material or web pages describing best practices as they pertain to online and mobile banking security, as well as risks inherent in irresponsible behaviour.

Adding the personal touch

Despite existing in a world gone digital, face-to-face interaction still holds a lot of value. American Banker suggests that intercepting branch visitors and offering them a physical show-and-tell in return for something small can go a long way to allay fears of the new and unknown.

Some banks have even turned to mobile banking classes, while others have started in-branch kiosks similar to Apple’s Genius Bar to train visitors on digital banking.

Whichever route banks choose to take, knowledge truly is power. In fact, banks that engage more with their customers and enable them to easily use their technology are proven to become more trusted, receive fewer complaints, and boast higher levels of customer loyalty – something that all the marketing budget in the world can’t buy.