My colleague Julie Ask and I recently wrote on how banks are using mobile notifications and emerging tech (based on a survey of executives and digital business leaders at banking providers). The full research (only available to Forrester clients) includes more than 50 slides of data and insights. Here are three key findings:

  • Alerts and notifications have a huge impact, yet many banks don’t have effective strategies or dedicated staff. Few things are as critical to financial providers as notifications. In fact, use of alerts is one of the three strongest drivers of mobile banking engagement. But while banking executives and leaders say they know that alerts and notifications are important to their customers — and to their business objectives — many aren’t backing this view with resources. Just 55% of the bank executives we surveyed “dedicate staff to mobile messaging and notifications,” and only 58% say they “have the talent we need in-house to execute the strategy for mobile messaging and notifications.”
  • Email and SMS remain the top messaging channels in banking, but a majority of banks now use push notifications and app inboxes. Most banks (58%) are using push notifications regularly for customer alerts or messaging. Another 25% say they’re piloting push notifications for customers. In-app inboxes (which typically include alerts, secure messaging, and more) are also becoming more widely used in banking: Thirty-nine percent of bank execs say that their firm is using app inboxes regularly, and 17% are piloting them. Banks that embrace alerts and channels beyond email and SMS — which, unsurprisingly, remain the two most widely used channels for alerts and messaging — will be in the lead as they seek to engage customers and differentiate their brands.
  • When it comes to alerts, notifications, and mobile messaging, banks are stuck in the present. As customers’ needs rise and expectations evolve, bank execs and leaders need to push forward in ways they currently aren’t. While most banking leaders we surveyed use journey mapping, personas, and traditional customer interviews, most fail to use tools like ethnographic research, cognitive walk-throughs, or even behavioral analytics to identify key moments and opportunities to better engage customers. Likewise, just six of the 25 bank executives we surveyed say that their firms are using artificial intelligence in their messaging or notifications efforts. Most banks’ alerts efforts are sufficient to meet customers’ basic needs today — that’s good, but not good enough for any firm looking to drive sustained, profitable growth in the future.

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