How banks and financial institutions can use messenger apps safely and successfully
In this article:
- Is it safe for banks to use WhatsApp and other messenger apps?
- Advantages of messaging apps in the finance industry
- How banks can use messenger apps to improve customer communication
- These banks and financial companies are already using messaging apps successfully
- The safest solution for messaging apps in the finance industry
Banks and messenger apps might sound like a tricky combination. On the one hand, customers love the fast, efficient, and personal communication. On the other hand, financial institution have to guarantee that it's safe. In this guide, we'll show you how financial institutions can use messaging apps safely and successfully.
Companies across all industries are fully embracing messenger apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger for customer communication, sales, and marketing. That's not surprising seeing that WhatsApp, for example, is the world's most popular social media network, and that billions of people reach out to businesses on messaging apps daily!
For many industries, therefore, using messenger apps for their business is a no-brainer. For the finance industry, things are a little trickier.
Is it safe for banks to use WhatsApp and other messenger apps?
On the one hand you want to offer your customers an easy and engaging communication channel, but on the other hand, you also want to make sure that it's safe and secure. And let's be honest, messenger apps haven't had the best reputation lately, especially for banks!
It wasn't too long ago that banks across the US were hit with hefty fines for using WhatsApp during the pandemic. This example shows exactly why financial institutions and banks are so torn about using messenger apps. They're extremely convenient and popular, but if used without a professional setup, they present a serious security risk.
And that's exactly the key to using messenger apps like WhatsApp safely and successfully in the finance industry: you need a professional solution that you can trust to guarantee the highest safety standards, from encryption to data protection!
Obviously, inspiring trust is key to getting your users to communicate with you, not just on messenger apps, but on any channel. According to Sinch's Customer Experience report, 87% of consumers say they are more likely to engage with companies in channels and environments that feel safe.
So let's look how banks and financial institutions and customers can not only benefit from offering messaging apps, but also do it safely.
Advantages of messaging apps in the finance industry
Using messaging apps has several advantages for banks and financial institutions. Let's start off with some numbers!
Did you know that...
- Consumers are 35x more likely to open mobile messages than e-mails
- 70% of customers say they would find mobile alerts about suspicious banking activity “very useful
- messaging your customers leads to a 20% increase in brand interaction, purchase and repurchase
And there's more!
1. It's convenient
Messenger apps are already widely used, so it's a very convenient way for banks and financial institutions to reach (potential) customers. As many users already have at least one messaging app installed on their phone, it's less of a communication barrier than having to install yet another app.
2. It's fast
Compared to more traditional communication methods like e-mail or phone, messaging apps are just faster. E-mails usually have a 24-hour reply cycle, and while you can reach people on the phone "immediately", call center teams (especially in banks!) are at their limit, and each request takes at least several minutes to solve. So customers end up in annoying waiting lines, and your agents are stressed, because they can't keep up with the high volume.
With messaging apps, on the other hand, agents can handle multiple requests at once from one central inbox, especially when using professional messaging solutions.
In addition, it's easy to add automated solutions, like a chatbot or automatically displaying the most frequently asked questions which typically already solves the majority of all inquiries in seconds, and frees up your agents.
3. It's cheaper
Aside from being faster, messenger apps also have a cost advantage. You can handle higher volumes with less agents, and by adding automated solutions, you can reduce cost even more.
And: Once you start a conversation with a customer on WhatsApp or Instagram Direct, it's easy to re-engage them. All it takes is another message. That's a lot cheaper than re-engagement ads on Google, for example!
4. It's more personal
Messenger apps allow for personalization and customizations, so you can tailor your messages to your customers' specific needs, and it's usually fast and effortless. For example, it's easy to connect your CRM system to a messaging app, and then it only takes a few clicks to send out personalized birthday messages to your customers.
5. It's safe
Many messenger apps such as WhatsApp or iMessage offer very safe end-to-end encryption. In addition, professional messaging solutions like Sinch Engage offer the highest security standards, and 100% data protection.
And: It's also the fastest way to let customers know if there are any security issues with an account or warn them about possible cyber threats.
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How banks can use messenger apps to improve customer communication
Messaging apps are a very convenient communication channel, offer engaging user experiences, and convert better. That's why they're so interesting for businesses for so many different use cases.
As a customer service channel, messenger apps make the customer's life easier, since it's the channels they use most in their daily lives. They're also already installed on most people's phones, which also gives you much easier access than having to convince users to install yet another app.
Keep in mind that messaging apps aren't only popular with the younger generation. Especially older users are, in fact, more familiar with messaging apps. For instance, for many, taking pictures of documents on their phones and sending them through messaging apps is a lot more intuitive than having to send it as an e-mail attachment.
And using WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or other messaging apps has another advantage. It's much easier to keep track of a conversation, and find older information that has been exchanged. Unlike web chats that disappear or entangled e-mail threads, information is much easier to find on messaging apps.
But instant messaging doesn't have to be restricted to customer service. WhatsApp and other messaging apps are also an excellent marketing tool. With messaging, finance companies can advertise investment opportunities right on the home screen of cell phones. Banks can send insurance or loan offers or reminders when bills are due.
You can also use messaging apps to send transaction verifications or alerts about security leaks.
Best practice: Nationwide's crisis communication during the pandemic kept customers informed at all times
When the pandemic hit, millions of people were affected economically. The UK-based bank Nationwide gave its members a payment holiday, allowing them to temporarily pause loan and mortgage payments. When that period ended, they also needed to communicate what would happen next and what steps members had to take.
Nationwide had to provide members with all the necessary information, and yet without making them feel overwhelmed. They also needed to communicate in a way that felt personal, reliable, and secure; in a way that also reduced inbound support inquiries at a time when most call center employees were working from home.
In order to guarantee the pace of SMS and the detail of e-mail, Nationwide used rich messaging channels to send their customers fast and detailed information. On this channel, Nationwide was able to reach a 90% engagement rate!
From cash-back rewards to referral bonuses to a new financial workshop: as a bank you offer a wide range of services and special promotions for your customers. And messaging apps are the fastest and most convenient way to inform them about it!
While both, service messages and marketing notifications can work with banking customers, you should analyze what target group prefers what type of message. For example, our research shows that younger customers are more interested in promotional messages from their banks, while older customers prefer security messages.
Given how easy it has become to trade stocks through free apps like Robinhood and Webull, many people have started experimenting with buying and selling shares. For banks and financial institutions, it's hard to convince their customers to trade with them instead (and pay a commission on a service they can also get for free on an app).
Engaging your customers in a meaningful exchange about finances on messaging apps could be the first step to show customers why it's worth it! The broadcasting features on WhatsApp or Facebook's recurring messages are perfect for this.
Once your customers opt in to receive messages from you, re-engaging them through regular broadcasts is easy and very rewarding.
Keep them up to date about the stock market with targeted newsletters. Send them regular tips about investing, saving, and financing. Interested customers will appreciate the information and the effort you put in, and when they're ready to start their personal finance plan, you'll be their first stop!
Best practice: FirstBank keeps customers happy with special treats
The American bank FirstBank likes to thank customers with different freebies, including free lunches, treats, and services. And these are delivered by instant messages!
For instance, FirstBank rolled out a Food Truck Friday promotion, where every Friday customers got a free meal on the bank.
But the biggest treat for some is likely the “in-the-know messages” that they receive from the bank. These informational messages are an important factor in increasing customer loyalty, says Kelly Kaminskas, FirstBank Digital and Retail President.
Technology enables a superior customer experience. Mobile messaging is integral in the mix.
Finally, a greater reach and more engaged customers also means a greater number of sales. With more users reading your messages, there is a greater chance that your product will be sold.
Knowing the user's preferences, companies can implement cross-selling solutions (a life insurance that is sold together with a car insurance) and up-selling (adding a Platinum credit card to a new checking account).
This shows how versatile messenger apps can be. The following examples give you a first idea of the possibilities for banking.
These banks and financial companies are already using messaging apps successfully
United Bank for Africa: Helping customers through iMessage and chatbot "Leo"
The pan-African bank United Bank for Africa (UBA) is a trendsetter when it comes to customer communication. One of their goals is to offer every customer the possibility to contact them on their preferred channel. One of these is iMessage, Apple's Messages for Business.
Customers can message UBA via Apple Message, and then receive first help from a chatbot called "Leo".
Leo can either solve the issue right away, or gathers the most important information to pass the customer on to the right agent. With the already collected data, the agent then can help the customer faster and save time.
Banco BV: Leading the way as innovator with WhatsApp
Banco BV is a digital bank from Brazil that is betting big on WhatsApp as a communication channel. As WhatsApp is by far the country's most popular communication channel, the idea is to offer more and more services on the app, taking advantage of its popularity.
For the bank, the biggest advantages of WhatsApp are its popularity and speed.
Since pretty much every Brazilian that is online is also on WhatsApp, the bank can use this channel to engage with clients who don't use Banco BV's app. Also, with self-service via chatbot, customers get their questions resolved much faster than calling on the phone.
GraceKennedy Group: Engaging customers with newsletter on Facebook Messenger
The Jamaican company GraceKennedy Group has a unique vision: be the Caribbean number one brand by offering the best food and banking services.
For their food brand, Grace Foods, the company set up a newsletter service on Facebook Messenger. After opting in to receive notifications, interested users get access to regular updates, but also to unique deals and special competitions.
Belfius: Using a chatbot to assist customers in multiple languages
As one of Belgium’s largest banks, Belfius serves one out of three Belgian citizens. With 1.4 million customers that also speak multiple languages, that's not an easy task. Especially when it came to handling insurance claim, the number of inquiries were so high that the agents had a hard time keeping up.
That’s why Belfius decided to introduce an AI-based chatbot to help them process the insurance claims of their customers in several languages faster. With the help of Chatlayer, Belfius launched “myBo”, a chatbot that is able to assist customers in French, Dutch / Flemish, and English, and has been an immense help for the customer service team.
As a result, customers were now able to receive help 24/7 in their preferred language.
And thanks to myBo, Belfius Insurance noted an 87.5% increase in conversions, when comparing the filed claims using myBo to the traditional insurance claim forms.
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The safest solution for messaging apps in the finance industry
Messenger apps offer banks and financial institutions unique opportunities to better connect with their customers. Instant messaging offers endless possibilities and a great user experience. And if you combine them with automated solutions, they'll also save you a lot of time and effort. That's why many established banks are already using messenger apps so successfully.
If you want to follow their lead, it's important to make sure that you use a safe and secure messaging solution, such as Sinch Engage.
Sinch Engage is an all-in-one messaging platform where you can handle customer messages from different channels in one central inbox, easily integrate chatbots and CRM systems, and even set up marketing notifications.
With servers located in the European Union, we guarantee 100% data privacy, even by the highest standards. And our chatbot also meets the highest IT standards and is also IT is ISO 27001 certified. As Sinch Engage was specifically designed for businesses, security is at the core of the platform.
Engage with all your customer in one place!