Published on CB and CU Insight on November 4, 2015

By Kent Anderson, Bluepoint Solutions

How to know you're making a good first impression.

The secret is out. Consumers are forgoing trips to physical branches and embracing the convenience offered by anytime, anywhere digital access.

Mobile banking is now a primary staple for 39% of U.S. consumers, and that number does not just account for tech-savvy Millennials—retail banking customers of all ages are starting, maintaining and advancing accounts through the digital channel (Federal Reserve, 2015 and Consumers and Mobile Financial Services, 2015). More and more consumers are migrating to mobile banking from online banking each year. According to Juniper Research, mobile banking users are expected to double to over 1.8 billion over the next four years. Unsurprisingly, financial institutions are investing heavily in technology—up to $131 billion globally by the end of 2015—and much of this spending is directed toward mobile projects.

Many financial institutions have focused on investing in new mobile service tools, and rightly so, but what about your front door – opening a new account? The “inside” of the new, virtual branch may be nicely decorated for existing customers, but financial institutions must make sure they are also presenting a first impression that exceeds the expectations of mobile-first/mobile-only customers and members. Consumers don’t only want to conduct routine business digitally, they want to open their accounts digitally. Javelin reports online checking account opening rates grew from about 50% in 2014, to about 70% in 2015, a trend echoed across a number of account types: applying for auto loans (69%), mortgages (72%) and credit cards (64%).

The key to winning over these increasingly tech-oriented consumers is to recognize that they may never set foot in your branch, so your virtual front door needs to be as easily-navigable, barrier-free and attractive as your branches. Both your mobile and online presentation vitally influence consumers’ decisions to do business with you, and a poor experience is equivalent to slamming the door in their face.

According to a study from Mobile Strategy Partners LLC (parent company of Gro Solutions), applicants abandon 80% of all mobile account opening processes—more than double the 35% abandonment rate of online applications. Historically, mobile account opening solutions have consisted of little more than taking paper customer application forms from the previous century and placing them on a website, but gone are the days when a mobile experience can simply mirror an online website (minus the keyboard and mouse) on a mobile device. This is true for all business, but especially true for account creation. If this is what you are offering, then chances are you’ll lose that new account holder—and the investment you made to attract them—8 out of 10 times.

What prevents most consumers from completing these applications is friction—either they don’t have all of the information they need to answer all of the questions, or the process is too long and cumbersome, so they abandon the process altogether. Financial institutions looking to increase their acquisition rate must first remove as many obstacles from the process as possible, and then customize the process specifically for smartphones and tablets. From funding the account, to capturing photos of identification cards and other needed paperwork, to keying in personal information, this process should take less than five minutes. And with these standards, you’ll meet your new customers and members where they spend time while impressing them with your seamless, painless service. If perception is everything, then your front door is where you have an opportunity to win them over.

Community institutions face the ongoing challenging of keeping pace with the same mobile banking features offered by their larger retail bank competitors. However, they can offer the same level of convenience and eliminate as much hassle and guesswork as possible by streamlining their mobile account opening process—rolling out a modern and affordable virtual red carpet. Mobile-forward consumers are the future account holders for all financial institutions, so now is the time to create an easy-to-use, virtual ‘front door’ to attract this business.

Bluepoint Solutions will partner with Gro Solutions to present an educational webinar about the importance of and trends around digital account opening and other 2016 trends towards the end of the year. Please fill out this form to be included in the formal invitation.

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