One of Javelin’s goals is to identify when there’s a disconnect between what consumers want and what bankers think consumers want. That’s because bankers who misjudge their customers’ desires are at risk of investing scarce dollars on projects and services that won’t pay off as expected. A potential example came to light this week during a Javelin webinar for Financial Alerts Forecast 2013: Security + Personal Finance = ROI, a report in which I call for banks and credit unions to expand the content of alerts in order to initiate regular “conversations” that provide compelling information, insight, and advice as customers bank, shop, buy, borrow, save, and invest. To start a discussion about financial alerts that consumers value most highly, we asked the nearly 50 attendees who work for banks, credit card networks, technology vendors, regulators and other industry players to identify which of five alerts U.S. consumers rated the most valuable. About 40% of the attendees selected alerts that notify customers of unusual transactions based on their purchasing behavior, with an additional 31% picking alerts that would warn customers when they’re at risk of overdrawing an account. Only 6% picked the alert that actually ranked No. 1 with 65% of consumers: Notification of a change in account access information -- such as a password or address – that can indicate an attempt to take over an account.

On the face of it, a banker could logically conclude that notifying customers about changes to account access is less an “alert” than a “status update” that serves to confirm something the customer already knows. But my take is this alert is particularly important when it comes to reassuring consumers that their money is safe. If a change in account access was legit, consumers will view it positively as a confirmation and move on. But if it’s suspicious, they will jump into action – and greatly appreciate their bank’s help in preventing fraud.

Another thing to take away is that the No. 1 alert for all consumers isn’t necessarily the No. 1 for specific consumers a financial institution might target. If you’re keen to target Gen Y consumers or women, for example, there is an even bigger payoff from expanding the content of alerts from a focus on security to a focus on personal finance alerts. The “security + personal finance” approach also could play a pivotal role in winning over holdouts who have yet to try mobile banking. It all underscores the necessity of listening not just to the voice of the consumer – but to the voices of consumers – whom you want to target.


About Mark Schwanhausser

Mark Schwanhausser is JAVELIN’s Director of Omnichannel Financial Services. Mark strategizes how financial institutions (FIs) can track and serve customers across whatever channels they use, and provide a consistent, integrated brand and user experience. Mark helps banks and credit unions profitably enable customers to monitor and manage their money more intelligently through technology such as online banking, mobile banking, personal finance management, financial alerts, and technologies on the horizon like wearables.

Mark led the development of JAVELIN’s Financial Journey Model, which builds digital banking on a foundation of 10 time-tested personal finance principles, and JAVELIN’s holistic segmentation, which enables FIs to prioritize their investments to serve the critical needs of the profitable Moneyhawks™, high-value Traditionalists, and up-and-coming Emergents. His other work in 2015 has focused on how banks and billers can turn off paper statements by closing the “digital commitment gap,” why digital account opening has reached a tipping point, and how FIs can use alerts and notifications to initiate daily “conversations” with customers.

Before joining JAVELIN in April 2008, Mark worked for nearly 26 years at the San Jose Mercury News, mostly as a personal finance reporter writing about money and emerging trends in financial services and payments technology.

Mark has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri at Columbia and attended Antioch College.

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