Giving Customers What They Want: Mobile Payments with Personalized Service By: First National Bank of Omaha Senior Vice President of Treasury Services Russ Oatman

While consumers are demanding the ability to pay companies using their mobile device, many businesses still struggle to offer a seamless, user-friendly mobile payment experience that strengthens their brand. At the root of these challenges is often a failure to clearly define and execute on the desired customer experience.

Defining and designing the desired customer experience

Companies by nature tend to be “siloed,” with different departments and groups working independently from one another. Customer service, accounts receivable, marketing, sales, and technology teams often report through entirely separate channels. This lack of cohesion can result in internal conflict about desired outcomes from a payments platform. The customer service team, for example, will likely view the platform as an extension of their department if it’s well-executed. If it is not, however, the platform—even if it is the best technology available—will be seen as an obstacle.

This kind of conflict can be avoided if the organization conducts a top-down, enterprise-wide effort to define, refine and execute a consistent, excellent customer experience that combines mobile payments with highly personalized service. This customer experience can and should include a host of value-added services that customers will pay for.

Defining the desired customer experience should begin with defining the target customer—a step that’s critical to any payments initiative. Another key step is discovering what customers and prospects need and want from a payments experience. This knowledge can be gleaned both informally, from off-the-cuff conversations, and formally, through surveys and/or focus or advisory groups.

Building the mobile experience

As with the design phase of the mobile payments initiative, building the mobile payments service should be a multi-disciplinary effort that ideally includes the organization’s IT and marketing groups. Often these two groups are left to deal with problems resulting from poorly conceived or executed designs and strategies; if they are included in the effort from the beginning, many of these issues can be avoided.

The design-build effort should not be rushed, and the team should take the time to carefully weigh decisions. Solutions should never be implemented as mere knee-jerk reactions to market trends. Payments technology is certainly moving quickly, but not so quickly that companies cannot spend time making the right decisions for the organization and its customers.

Personalization through digitization

Because they enable remote customer interactions, mobile payments may seem like they undermine personalized service. In fact, the digitization of payments enables services that are more personalized—and more cost-efficient—than ever. Payment data and other customer data can be collected, analyzed and applied to make targeted offers and to enable one-on-one marketing remotely. Value-added services can be customized to the wants and needs of specific customer segments and even individual customers. Those capabilities translate to new revenue streams, and more loyal, “stickier” customers.

The Starbucks example

Starbucks offers an excellent example of a well-designed, personalized mobile payments experience. The coffee giant has adapted mobile technology over the years to meet and exceed customer needs—while also gaining market share by making transaction processing easy and consistent with their other customer channels.

Starbucks has leveraged mobile technology not only to boost customer satisfaction through mobile ordering but also to create the payments ecosystem that so many organizations want to emulate. The coffee company has managed not only to convince customers to prepay for services, but to do so in a way that somehow doesn’t feel like they’re paying for anything.

Getting started

Designing and building a mobile payment service may seem like a formidable undertaking, especially when technology and payments are not your core business. The first step is to find a partner who can help. Your financial institution—whose core competency is payments—is a good place to start.

First National Bank of Omaha often assists businesses that are seeking to offer mobile payment options with personalized service. We help these clients to define their payments strategy and then to identify or develop the technology needed to execute that strategy. Sometimes our clients find that they can build mobile capabilities in-house in combination with bank products; other times, they need an outside vendor to complete their solution set. When outside vendors are needed, we help businesses identify potential partners, and then work collectively with the business and the vendor to define and execute the payments strategy.

Many businesses forget to include their bank in this process, but your financial institution can play a vital role in selecting the right vendor and implementing an effective payments strategy. Having your bank on your mobile payments team helps to ensure better, easier connectivity—and ultimately, better results.

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