Many Australian banks miss the mark when it comes to money management, alerts, and self-service features on their mobile apps, and the absence of these services hurts the customer experience.

That’s a key finding in a new report from Forrester Research into Australian mobile banking apps called Mobile Banking Apps Take Center Stage As Australians Embrace Digital Banking.

The authors of the report say that the absence of such features leaves customers in the dark when it comes to staying on top of their finances and completing customer service tasks at will.

In the report, Forrester argues that great mobile banking experiences don’t exist in a vacuum. “They require a clear vision, an incredibly strong customer focus, and senior leadership support and buy-in. Without these, digital experiences will struggle to find traction and miss the mark on brand promise; your mobile app may try to be too many things to too many people.”

The analysts say that when planning and designing mobile experiences, digital banking executives must ensure that the app is an extension of the existing digital portfolio and bears the same CX ethos and priority. “To deliver the consistency customers crave, you must understand the larger digital ecosystem around your mobile app and keep brand promise, values, and vision connected.”

Changed circumstances

On a company blog, the report’s co-author Senior Analyst Zhi Ying Barry describes the headline impact of COVID-19 on the consumers’ banking experience.

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“The world is a very different place than it was six and a half months ago. Just think of the ways we now interact with each other, carry out our daily activities, and buy and pay for products and services.”

Barry says the way we bank has also changed dramatically to reflect this.

“With social distancing rules and ‘no cash’ transactions, the impact of the pandemic on payments and banking is complex — and long-lasting. ATM usage and branch traffic are way down, while contactless payments and digital banking services have increased dramatically. COVID-19 has forced Australian consumers to adopt digital banking, and this change is here to stay.”

The study, which was also authored by Riccardo Pasto, Senior Analyst, Seles Sebastian, Senior Research Associate suggests that mobile apps are the touchpoint of choice for Australians to manage their finances with more than half (53 per cent) of Australian online adults use their smartphone to conduct their banking.

Forrester says it reviewed the mobile banking apps of the Big Four Australian banks and neobank 86 400 and found that they generally do well at delivering digital functionality to help users complete basic mobile banking tasks like transferring money and making recurring transfers or bill payments.

This was particularly important during the pandemic lockdown when the use of cash, ATMs and bank branches declined says Forrester.

According to the report, “Most apps also deliver good user experiences thanks to clearly labeled menus, unambiguous navigation, and interactive elements that are distinct to the user.”

Commbank leads the pack

“For the fourth year running, CommBank takes the lead by delivering impressive digital experiences, excelling at both user experience and functionality. Due to the current economic recession, protecting the financial wellbeing of consumers has also never been more important. CBA performs well in this area, receiving perfect scores for account management, money movement, and assisted service.”

“Personalised recommendations are also a best practice for the industry, and CBA is a leading example of how banks should better understand their customers and put customers first by helping them improve their financial wellbeing.”

According to Forrester banks need to:

  • · Let customers manage alerts
  • · Communicate better with customers
  • · Give customers more visibility into where they spend their money.
  • · Help customers reach their financial goals
  • · Improve self-service features

“The best mobile banking experiences don’t just meet customer needs with strong features and easy-to-use apps, they also anticipate customer needs,” according to the analysts.

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