Mobile alerts: rare instance of mutual benefit

In a rare instance of mutual benefit, the fast-growing popularity of mobile alerts promises to keep consumers happy while actually saving banks money. No wonder smart banks are jumping on providing quality, secure options for receiving information about accounts, balances and cleared items via text, email and RSS.

I should point out that fast growing popularity is another way of saying fast-growing consumer demand. For once, we bankers can be grateful for something the market is forcing upon us. If only it worked out that way more often.

According to a recent article in Newswire Today, 40 percent of customer calls to branches and information hotlines pertain to balance inquiries. Think of it. The average customer service employee spends 16 hours out of a normal 40-hour work week looking up balances and cleared transactions while customers wait on the phone or in the branch. Ready for some math? If you take those 16 hours and multiply them times 50 weeks, you get 800 work-hours in a year. Multiply those 800 work-hours by the number of people you employ in those positions, and multiply that times the average hourly wage you pay them. That’s what it costs your bank to tell customers what checks have cleared and what their balance is.

Doubtless you will agree that it would be a heck of a lot cheaper for a computer to automatically transmit the same information.

In part, you can thank PCs and laptops for creating a favorable environment that allowed to flourish such a fortuitous opportunity to cut costs and increase customer satisfaction. Credit for its recent snowballing, however, goes largely to the growth of mobile device use. The number of Americans today without a mobile device is so small as to render them statistically insignificant. By now you can pretty much assume that all of your clients pack a mobile device. Equally significant, a recent report from shows that 25 percent of your customers use only a mobile device to access the Internet. That means that if you’re not offering a suite of mobile options and alerts, you are letting down one in four of your customers.

We can only expect the number of mobile banking users to increase. That is precisely why a number of banks are increasing options for consumers to receive information via mobile devices.

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