In Mobile, It Could Be The Little Things That Count

Maybe mobile is about taking what look like small steps.

As I listened to a keynote presentation at MediaPost’s OMMA Mobile conference in New York this week, it became apparent that in many cases it can be the little things that can count most.

By any measure, Bank of America is big when it comes to mobile. Here are some mobile stats from the bank:

  • Of the 30 million online banking users, 11 million use mobile
  • The bank has about 100 million mobile sessions a month
  • Mobile usage is growing by 40,000 customers a week
  • In 24 months, the number of mobile logins will be more than online
  • The bank sees a 74 percent year-over-year increase in mobile as primary usage

However, even with numbers like these, rather than taking a mass mobile marketing approach it is spending its time and resources looking to enhance personal (as in small) interactions.

“We’re living in a more connected, digital world,” says Marc Warshawsky, Senior Vice President, Mobile Solutions Executive of Bank of America. “Each transaction represents an opportunity to be more deliberately human to build ever more personal and human connections.”



As with many financial services companies, Bank of America is exploring and experimenting with various mobile payment approaches ranging from NFC (near field communications) to using QR codes for payments.

But rather than putting all its chips in one bucket, such as placing the ultimate bet on whether NFC will be the ultimate payment solution, the bank is focused more on the one-to-one customer level in all aspects of interactions with the bank, not just payments.

“Customers want choice and simplicity in how they interact,” says Warshawsky. “Each interaction is uniquely important to that customer.”

This idea of simplicity brings to mind the initial launch of Quicken by Intuit. At its introduction, all the software did was print onto a check the information you’d normally write on it and automatically balance your checkbook. But it turned out that was the simple thing that customers wanted, to find a replacement for balancing their checkbook. Intuit captured a massive customer base and then expanded from there into a myriad of financial services products.

This does not mean starting small, but rather doing small things -- simple interactions that make a person’s life easier. The small things done by Bank of America are being done at very large scale, for millions of people.

For example, banks including Bank of America now allow customers to take a picture of a check and send it via mobile, thereby avoiding a trip to the bank or to an ATM machine. While not the biggest innovation in mobile history, the process was made available at scale to millions of people and makes the life of an individual easier.

Another example of small but personally useful things are mobile push alerts, such as how Delta Airlines allows automatic entering of flight information into Outlook and sending text alerts about gate and baggage claim locations. This also allows tracking of luggage -- so if your suitcase misses the flight, at least you know you don’t have to waste your time waiting at the baggage carousel. It’s not coming.

Another small but personally life-enhancing capability that Bank of America launched is email mobile money transfer, making the moving of money easier for individuals. Banks in Latin America also are looking to add similar consumer banking capabilities -- and many of these will be introduced to banking for the first time through mobile.

The point is to present things that customers value, even if seemingly small. Warshawsky says they have found that mobile customers are twice as engaged as online customers -- a theme we heard repeatedly at the OMMA Mobile conference this week. This means customers are active and will be interactive, as long as the interactions are simple and intuitive.

Simple things in mobile can go a long way, and you can build from there.

Rather than looking for the ultimate mobile solution, perhaps marketers should seek what may be the most obvious little things.



2 comments about "In Mobile, It Could Be The Little Things That Count".
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  1. Pete Austin from Fresh Relevance, October 4, 2012 at 7:02 a.m.

    @Delta Airlines: Never understood why airlines make me lug a suitcase around, with the added risk that they'll lose it. It's like something out of Medieval times before they invented a postal system. How about *you* collect the case and deliver it to the hotel before I fly out, then bring it back after I return. I guess telling me that you lost my luggage is a tiny improvement, but it misses the real problem.

  2. Chuck Martin from Chuck Martin, October 4, 2012 at 10:39 a.m.

    Yes, Pete, but at least it's a start. the good news is you can see that your luggage did, in fact, make the plane you're on.

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