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Mobile banking in the UK

Mobile Banking Apps

The assessment of online opinions helps organisations, and in this case mobile banking providers, create more successful customer-centred products and improve the customer experience by:

• Uncovering customers’ opinions, behaviours, experiences and feedback

• Discovering common and not so common issues and problems customers face

• Uncovering unexpected themes and trends around the use of mobile banking applications

The team at 5W, using in-house expertise in online data mining and Crimson Hexagon’s Forsight platform, examined the public online conversations made between 01 August 2012 and  31 August 2013 (4,085 relevant comments) of 8 major UK banks’ customers: Barclays, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds TSB, Nationwide, NatWest and Royal Bank of Scotland. The banks were not benchmarked; instead, the analysis looked at the aggregate opinion of all the users.

the conversation about mobile banking applications segmented into the most common themes

the conversation about mobile banking applications segmented into the most common themes

The relevant conversation was divided into three major groups:

• “Mobile Banking Functionality” discussing features that the customers are finding innovative and allowing them to perform banking transactions more conveniently

• “Mobile Banking as a Service” discussing the attitude toward mobile banking as an offering

• “App Support and Issues” discussing the technical aspects of the mobile banking applications such as platform support, application stability and user request for help. With the common themes presented in 10 categories expressing customers’ most valued features and uses of mobile banking and their exchange of information.

The winning mobile banking features

Customers expressing appreciation for the applications do so because they are addressing certain expectations and needs they have. Specifically:

• Innovative functionalities such as the emergency get cash feature, labelled by many customers as a life saver, as well as the ability to pay or get paid by anyone is going down a treat. This highlights the importance of addressing real customer pains and needs.

• The winning banks are those who are developing solutions to offer their customers the ability to pay bills and easily move funds around without the need to access the web or visit a branch.

Mobile banking as a service

A significant part of the conversation was about people checking their account from the application first thing in the morning and throughout the day on payday to see if they had received their salary.

This observation highlights payday as an important event in people’s lives and shows the application is addressing a basic need of being able to easily and quickly check balances on pay day.

For this reason, customers voiced deep frustration when they were unable to check if they have been paid due to application crashes or downtime – again highlighting the importance of the need to be updated on payday.

Not surprisingly, customers love the mobile banking convenience offered – this could be checking balances on the go or being able to pay bills while abroad.

Customers rarely labelled mobile banking as a useless service or expressed being generally unhappy with mobile banking as a concept.

Most used words and how they are clustered

Most used words and how they are clustered

The technical side of mobile banking  falls short

60% of the conversation is centred on issues and support hinting to mobile banking technology needing more time to mature.  This includes both applications downtime and crashes, as well as support of devices and different operating systems.

In general, customers reacted very negatively when they were unable to access the banking application due to network issues or following application updates.

Conversations show that a segment of customers is relying on the banking application as the main channel to conduct their banking. For these customers mobile banking is no longer a nice-to-have feature; thus the need for reliable and robust applications and services.


Sample comments from Twitter users about their experiences


Sample comments from Twitter users about their experiences

image5 image4 image1 simrenjeeta_ Repeatedly refreshing Barclays ... 2013-09-12 17_52_03-Twitter _ Johnson_D94_ It's payday. And the stupid ... Twitter _ justbecz_ Rbs app isn't working and I ... nevergo

Equally, as customers take the freedom of choosing mobile platforms and devices for granted, they are then disappointed when a banking application is not available for their phone. They are further dissatisfied with the long delay in supporting the newest mobile platforms or releasing features available on other banking applications.

Therefore, customers requesting feature enhancements, operating systems support as well as discussing issues in the public domain with other users represented 20% of the overall relevant conversation.

Not surprisingly, some customers went to the extent of  expressing their intention to switch banks based on mobile banking experience.

Time variation of the proportion of conversation in each category

Time variation of the proportion of conversation in each category

What does it all mean?

Asking the Who, Where, What, When and Why, 5W explored the public conversations on mobile banking in the UK, highlighting key trends and customer attitudes towards the applications.

UK mobile banking customers no longer accept quick balance updates as real value – with more and more mobile users relying on applications to transact on the go, mobile banking applications need to offer flexibility in terms of moving funds and paying bills more easily. In fact, customers want the ability to transact on the mobile device without the need to visit or call the bank’s unless necessary. Hence, the winning banks are those offering innovative problem solving features.

Mobile users expect to see convenient, reliable and up-to-date applications as a minimum – therefore, banks sometimes struggle to keep up with the changing devices, operating systems updates and support.  35% of the conversation is about network downtime and application crashes highlighting the need for a more robust and reliable applications and services. Customers seem to be willing to change banks based on mobile applications features and availability and in some cases explicitly mentioning this on publicly available media channels.

On the topic of pay-day, we saw the importance to have the application running and available for customers’ to monitor their wages. Given the importance of this topic, we ask “what else can the banks offer to notify their customers when their wages have been paid, rather than leaving them reliant on the applications’ availability or access to the web?”


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