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How are leading banks applying social media and mobile devices in ways that drive revenue and customer value? Spain's BBVA provides an excellent example of how this can be done. 

Here's a look at how they're creating qualitative outcomes for customers and profits for themselves, and how you can too...

Tú cuentas

Spain's BBVA, one of the world’s largest retail banks,  is offering its customers Tú cuentas (“you count”). It's a web and mobile delivered personal finance tool with all the usual functionality. But it goes further by allowing customers to mobile-banking-best-examplemanage their personal finances better. Tú cuentas offers analysis tools so customers can better understand, set goals and qualitatively improve their own spending and savings habits.

The “Just for Me” feature uses collective intelligence to offer a selection of personalized suggestions. It helps customers qualitatively make better decisions. Full stop! Isn't that what banks were always supposed to do?

The interface is, of course, personalized. But BBVA's mobile application offers “Amazon-like” suggestions based on the customer's preference settings, specific financial objectives and actual behavior (how customers interact with the application, their bank accounts and other financial institutions).

On the flip-side, the mobile application tool helps BBVA better understand its customers’ evolving needs and behavior. In return it offers customers personalized suggestions on financial and non-financial products.

BBVA is using mobile technology to offer relevant and useful information within the ever-changing, momentary context of its customers lives. Iisn't just "entering the conversation" or "buzzing" or building "social graphs."

These relevant, useful pieces of information include:

1. Practical financial tips to inform customers before they make money choices.
2. A short list of most liked products matching each customer spending patterns.
3. Financial products and services that may better address the individual customers' needs.
4. Relevant facts and aggregate stats that provide insights on BBVA's entire customer community and that of the individual.

BBVA also allows customers to do what they're accustomed to doing – bill payment, direct deposit, automatic transfers, etc. Being a bank, they're in a strong position to leverage their inherent position of trust. They exploit the opportunity by providing customers with the ability to aggregate their financial and banking access at one location, theirs.

How BBVA did it

At the highest level, BBVA aligned its pre-existing value to customers with their love-affair with mobile devices, and then aimed to offer more value than ever before. How? By being more relevant and useful than ever before.

Time-stretched BBVA customers already demonstrated a willingness to use their Web browsers to bank online. But when creating their Tu Cuentas mobile finance tool the bank decided to reach further, beyond offering one-directional, one-dimensional utility to customers.

BBVA decided to publish an uber-useful, ultra-relevant tool that customers wouldn't just love. They'd NEED it in ways they've never needed before. Every day.

BBVA is a bank and that assumes a base level of utility, like online banking, bill payment, free checking accounts, etc. But BBVA is going further.

Today, they're using a combination of the trust they've already built with customers and pairing it with customers' implicit behavior. BBVA asked customers to behave in ways that assume trust and go further -- leveraging customer interactions with BBVA and other financial institutions.

In other words, BBVA customers are conducting online banking with mobile devices. But BBVA is asking them to connect a wide array of other financial data sources ranging from charge cards to auto loans and mortgages. By allowing BBVA to access these data points AND monitor behavior of customers across BBVA and all other financial institutions BBVA promises to offer personalized financial advice. Again, isn't that what banks are supposed to do?

Arkadi Kuhlmann, Chairman, President & CEO of ING Direct USA puts it this way:Arkadi

"Mainstream America is looking for people to validate their beliefs and for authenticity... Every bank has ads with kids running through wheat fields and saying 'we love our customers', but everyone realizes that that is BS. Stop advertising 'we’re there for you', and focus on delivering on the things that customers really care about."

Well stated. But are banks listening? They should be. Can you think of a more embattled profession these days -- one in need of finding ways to engender trust and invent new levels of customer value? Social media and mobile apps can help. But only when planned as BBVA does.

Results

The result for BBVA: meaningful customer outcomes and profits using social media and mobile applications. BBVA is one of today’s best examples of social media and mobile device use in banking.

Run-of-the-mill banks are busy “humanizing” themselves with social media and mobile tools. But exceptional financial organizations like BBVA and USAA are qualitatively improving customers’ lives and businesses. And in ways that create profits. USAA's Deposit@Mobile is a remarkable example. For more details on one of the best social media examples in banking I've managed to find... in the U.S. at least.

Yes, BBVA is going head-to-head with 2.0 struggling newcomers like Mint.com and Wesabe, the latter of which has switched from courting (only) consumers serving banks and credit unions as a software service provider. But aren't they, as a bank, in a better position to leverage trust and, ultimately, fulfill on customers' financial services information (decision-making) needs?

So how can you do it?

Good question. I've taken time to break down the elements here but will be back in days ahead to give more details on how service organizations can move forward and realize tangible, meaningful returns (profits, increased customer value that leads to loyalty/retention).

Jeff Molander

Published 22 March, 2010 by Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander is a professional speaker, publisher and accomplished entrepreneur having co-founded what is today the Google Affiliate Network. He can be reached at jeff@jeffmolander.com. He is a regular contributor to Econsultancy. 

29 more posts from this author

Comments (5)

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Jeffry Pilcher | TheFinancialBrand.com

Is there data indicating BBVA realizes profits from its mobile app, or are these profits simply assumed?

Also, I'm not sure it's accurate to characterize Mint and Wesabe as "struggling newcomers." Mint was purchased by Intuit for $170 million. There are some PFM players (like Geezeo, Wesabe and Jwaala) who are doing very, very well.

over 6 years ago

Jeff Molander

Jeff Molander, CEO at Molander & Associates Inc.

Hi, Jeffrey...

I'm never one to assume profit.  At the moment I have no insights to share on BBVA as it relates to profit.  That stated, there are many who would suggest that "ROI" and profit are not important.  They're simply a byproduct (assumed?) of this magical thing called "engagement."  This is pure fantasy and an irresponsible position in my humble opinion.

As for my struggling newcomers.  I stand by the statement as I don't find your evidence -- that of valuation -- to be anything other than an indicator of future hope.  Or as we Americans like to say, "forward looking statements."  These valuations are lucrative "exits" for founders -- not necessarily indicators of sustainable, long term business models.  I realize that "doing very, very well" for some is defined in the short term while others (myself) define it in the long term.

That puts me squarely in the minority :)

over 6 years ago

Mark Pavan

Mark Pavan, Chairman at Mapa Research

Hi

Excellent post on BBVA tu cuentas. I agree with  the tenet and theme of your article wholeheartedly. Excellence in customer service always provides a winning formula.

Looking at the success I wondered if there is some cultural issues that favour BBVA success in that the Spanish customers are much more open to communicating and asking their bank for things than others in other countries. This will have a big bearing on how people react to such offerings elsewhere.

I was recently reading a research report which showed stark differences between Northern and Southern Europe in consumer attitudes to Online transactions.

Top line the Northern europeans have a different experience and expectation which means they are much more transactionally oriented than their southern cousins. The UK for instance has a long history of banks selling things to customers and that means customers are already "hardened" to communications of any form from banks. The huge success of price comparison sites here reinforces this theme even further.

I think it will be some time before customers view their banks in the way they view Amazon. Part of Amazons success, let us not forget, is that it lost huge sums of money in delivering excellent customer service.That is a mantra oft repeated by Financial Services companies. "It is easy to gain customers at a loss.....but much more difficult to keep and profit from them"

So perhaps a bit of watch this space on how BBVA evolve their service before we declare it the way forward?

over 6 years ago

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Josh Rochlin, CEO, Xtify

Grant - On the innovation front, we have recently seen more activity coming from the Far East. We have released a mobile messaging service platform for smartphones (Android, iPhone, Symbian and Blackberry). While we are experiencing adoption from small development shop throughout the world, the most innovative use of the platform has come from banking software development and services companies working with Asian banks on their mobile strategy. (essentially they have asked us to deliver our B-toB solution to be secured behind the firewall). So maybe it will be third-party innovators that push this forward.

about 6 years ago

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Business Loan

The result of using social media and mobile applications is meaningful customer outcomes and profits.. So my question is, will the banks realise the growing divide, and manage to change their massively engrained internal culture. Other large corporates are managing

over 5 years ago

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