Banking on Mobile
In the case of Wells Fargo Bank, the propensity of banking customers to transact on smartphones and tablet devices has continued to shape the company's mobile strategy and investment over the years. From five years ago until now, Wells Fargo's mobile channels have culminated in 8.7 million active customers completing a banking transaction via their mobile device at least once every 90 days, maintains Brian Pearce, senior vice president and head of the retail mobile channel for the company's digital channels group. Driving the development of Wells Fargo's mobile banking site, Wf.com, Pearce's group has also created a series of downloadable apps and a text-banking service.
Forty percent of Wells Fargo's online customers access the bank via their mobile device, which Pearce describes as "the fastest growing channel in the history of the bank."
But before it even broke into mobile, security was Wells Fargo's paramount concern. The bank had to ensure that it did not store any data locally on mobile devices. All transactions had to be conducted over encrypted lines. Wells Fargo adopted a layered security approach that it first tested in its online banking environment. Once security clearance was granted, the bank considered more mobile-specific features and functionalities.
Another mobile consideration for Wells Fargo was the kinds of devices its customers were using. The average customer texts the bank 27 times per month, indicating the group is highly engaged. However, knowing the different kinds of mobile devices customers use is critical because, as Pearce points out, "Fifty percent of the phones being sold in the U.S. are smartphones, but that also means that fifty percent aren't." Understandably, companies shouldn't alienate customers based on their choice of phone, so Pearce says it's pertinent to develop a strategy that encompasses all types of customer scenarios.
Before embarking on any one mobile strategy, Wells Fargo reaches out to its customers to see how they'd most like to use their mobile devices. In 2007, the bank's offerings were what Pearce calls simple, such as checking balances or doing an account transfer. But over time, the bank has added bill-pay, person-to-person payments, and comprehensive ways to manage one's full financial life straight from a smartphone.
According to Pearce, the bank begins by asking customers, "What would you be interested in doing using mobile? How can we help you when you're using the new technology?"
In addition to enabling customers to interact how they wish, any company looking to optimize its mobile presence must naturally consider the effects on the business as well, and how mobile usage will impact other lines of business and cross-channel marketing efforts. Companies are willing to invest in anything that adds to the convenience factor and makes it easier to increase the value of a sale, says Bob Egner, a vice president at Web content management company EpiServer.
Panago Pizza, a Canadian pizza delivery and takeout chain with 180 locations in six provinces, needed a way to enhance its ordering experience to account for mobile orders. It had to do so in a way that would work with its online site, physical stores, virtual agents, and multiple call centers. So it turned to Orckestra, a Canadian Web developer, to build out its mobile Web site, which launched in November, to secure orders from customers who are out and about.
Pizza delivery is all about convenience, which drives the whole segment, says Paxton Robertson, Panago's CEO. The company realized that it had a customer base that was on the go. People pick up pizzas on their way to soccer practice or dial in for a quick meal with friends or family. Because the primary function of the chain's mobile strategy was to enable a seamless, quick transaction, the company began its mobile strategy first with a mobile-optimized Web site. Eventually, there are plans to address other aspects of the customer experience, but Robertson says the priority is to perfect the seamless order.
Once an efficient ordering process is in place, organizations can focus on other revenue-generating areas. "The really hot transitive points here are rewards and loyalty," maintains Tim Hanlon, founder and CEO of investment advisory and strategic consulting firm The Vertere Group.
Restaurant chain P.F. Chang's took its Warrior Card loyalty program a step further with the help of Rockfish Interactive, adding restaurant search and navigation and full menu ordering with the ability to "favorite" menu items, make reservations, and earn and redeem Warrior points, all through a dedicated iPhone application.
When a solid mobile strategy is in place, brands can get the return they're looking for, says Jen Todd Gray, vice president of marketing and creative services at ePrize, a developer of multichannel promotions and loyalty solutions. She has seen redemption rates of mobile coupons that are eight to 10 times higher for clients with two to three times the basket size over email coupons.