Mobile Chat – Passing Fad or Key Capability?

Mobile Chat – Passing Fad or Key Capability?
Earlier this week, RBS launched a mobile chat feature, available to its business mobile banking users.  RBS isn’t the only one jumping onto the mobile chat bandwagon – San Diego County Credit Union announced a similar offering . The concept is pretty straightforward, and is similar to the online chat tools that some banks have incorporated into their web sites and/or online banking. I’m a big fan of online chat tools, though many banks I speak to have mixed feelings about them.  The launch of mobile chat capability raises a few pertinent questions:
  • Will users take to texting with their bank? Mobile chat is quite similar to texting with a bank representative. It’s a familiar experience to most mobile users and therefore could catch on. On the other hand, mobile banking is very much about quickly taking care of banking activities. Users get in, do what they need to do, and then get out. I question if mobile chat falls into the category of quick activities. Mobile chat on a tablet is an entirely different story, as the experience and activity type is similar to classic online banking.
  • Will text chat evolve to video chat? I have heard rumblings about this at a couple of banks, and I think it’s a great idea for specific markets where high touch service is required. Wealth management and business banking are great examples. It’s not a perfect solution as often customers in these segments often have dedicated representatives, and they can’t be available by video chat 24×7!
The larger question is, how can banks most effectively service their customers across channels? What is the most efficient way to service the growing number of mobile users in a multichannel environment? Chat is but a piece of the puzzle. Banks have to effectively service customers across channels, and bank representatives require a full record of all past interactions. For example, branch staff should be able to effectively service a customer, if  the customer originally initiated a mobile chat session and subsequently walks into a branch. What are your thoughts on mobile chat? Is it a passing fad or a key mobile capability?
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