Branches and Online Channels

Account Management, Customer Service, and Sales

Terminals, Devices, and Technological Innovations

Key Finding from a Previous Phoenix SYNERGISTICS Research Survey:

According to the 2014 Phoenix SYNERGISTICS study, The Era of Self-Service Banking, most consumers felt that branch automation should make it easier for branch staff to serve customers, while fewer felt branch automation should make the branch more self-service for customers.  Have these attitudes shifted over the past two years?

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Highlights of the Study

This study examines the consumer experience with self-service banking, including in-branch options and online and mobile banking.  Consumer reaction to various technological innovations is evaluated as well.

National Internet Survey – The survey will include 1,000 online interviews with consumers age 18 or older.

Key Dates

December 23, 2016 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.

December 23, 2016 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.

March 2017 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • What is the general day-to-day approach of consumers to self-service activities? Which types of activities do consumers have experience with – such as using self-checkouts at retail stores, placing orders at self-service kiosks in restaurants, or checking in for airline flights using computers or mobile devices?
  • What is the role of ATMs in self-service banking and financial activities? How widespread has ATM deposit making become?  Will consumers adopt advanced activities and functions at ATMs or other self-service terminals?  Are advanced functions regarded as appropriate for regularly-used ATMs or for specialized terminals?
  • Are consumers receptive to real-time videoconferencing with bank representatives? Is there a preference for doing this on certain devices?  Is this a potential account acquisition channel?
  • What will be the impact of consumer usage of self-service activities on branch automation and configuration strategies? How will branch traffic patterns change in response to wider adoption of self-service alternatives?
  • How do customers view their own comfort level in using automated or self-service technology for financial activities? Are there segments who will not adopt self-service devices or functions?  What perceived disadvantages exist that might be barriers to adoption of self-service – such as distrust of technology, a desire for human interaction for some activities, or a reluctance to assume responsibility for decisions or actions?
  • Is there a relationship between online and mobile financial activities and the broader adoption of self-service financial activities? Do certain activities – such as mobile RDC or mobile access to ATMs – enhance or compete with terminal or kiosk-based self-service activities?
  • Is an orientation to or usage of certain self-service devices and systems a basis for segmenting and targeting consumers?  Can behavioral, attitudinal, or demographic traits be used to identify and distinguish these segments?

Research Issues

  • How far along the road to self-service banking are consumers?  Self-service alternatives such as ATMs, kiosks, tablets, and mobile phones have been available for a number of years.  Now, these self-service devices are appearing in branches allowing consumers to conduct transactions easily and quickly so that branch personnel are free to focus on sales of financial products and services.  Videoconferencing terminals located in branches also allow customers to interact with sales specialists in remote locations.  This can be particularly valuable for more complex financial products and services.
  • With all of these new developments, consumers can now perform multiple activities using self-service devices from depositing checks to applying for products and services.  However, for some activities, consumers may use self-service devices along with assisted self-service and full-service alternatives.  Understanding this process is essential in channel integration and branch configuration strategies.
  • Consumers’ willingness to adopt self-service banking may be a result of an overall orientation to self-service in other locations and industries such as grocery stores and airline ticketing.  It may also stem from their desire for time and place convenience.  Whatever the motivation, self-service banking is becoming an essential element as providers develop and implement banking systems and services for the future. [F251]


Building and Expanding Relationships

Communication Strategies

Multi-Channel Integration

Key Finding from a Previous Phoenix SYNERGISTICS Research Survey:

According to the 2015 Phoenix SYNERGISTICS study, Checking Account Acquisition and Retention Strategies, more than four in ten of those who opened their checking account first at their institution say they obtained another account within the first six months.

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Highlights of the Study

This study examines the consumer experience with the onboarding process including communication strategies and contact methods, cross-selling and follow-up. The fragmentation of consumer banking relationships is also explored.

National Internet Survey – The survey will include 1,000 online interviews with consumers age 18 or older.

Key Dates

November 25, 2016 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.

November 25, 2016 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.

February 2017 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • How widespread and numerous are multiple account/service relationships with the main financial provider among consumer households? To what extent do checking accounts play a “lead role”  in this?
  • What is the profile of recent account opening activity – within the past five years – among consumer households? What accounts or services have been obtained?  Did comparison shopping take place?  Which channels or sources of information were utilized?  What product or provider features were important?  Which application channels were used?
  • Did consumers experience onboarding tactics during their most recent account opening – such as being asked about their additional financial needs, being informed about other accounts and services, or receiving welcome materials? Were other accounts and services obtained as a result of these efforts and what types?  Were other ancillary or value-added services obtained or used as a result of onboarding tactics?
  • What experience have consumers had with onboarding tactics during a short time frame after their most recent account opening? How soon were they contacted and by what channels?  What were the outcomes of these contacts in terms of obtaining any additional accounts or services or using any ancillary or value-added services?
  • What attitudinal or perceptual factors impact the onboarding process? Are customers receptive to being asked about their needs or do they regard it as an invasion of privacy?  How often do they want to be contacted by their institution, if at all?   What is the position of the main provider relationship in terms of obtaining additional accounts and services?
  • What preferences do consumers have for future financial shopping and onboarding activities – in terms of information channels and content, application methods, follow-up messages, and time frame for follow-up contact?
  • Are certain consumer segments more receptive to onboarding than others?  Are there indicators – such as demographic, behavioral, or attitudinal traits – that are useful for designing and targeting onboarding strategies and tactics?

Research Issues

  • Onboarding programs are receiving a great deal of attention in today’s financial marketplace.  These programs are designed to develop and enhance financial relationships from inception.  In essence, onboarding is a short-term strategy that can lead to long-term and loyal relationships.  There are a number of steps that can be part of the onboarding process.
  • The first step is often an assessment of customer needs when the product or service is first purchased.  This step can be followed with some form of thanking the customer for the purchase.  A series of steps can follow such as inquiries about product usage, satisfaction, and problems or concerns.  These steps can utilize a variety of forms of communication from traditional mail, email, telephone calls, as well as a mix of channels. It is valuable for these contacts to occur early in the relationship and that they are personal and frequent. As a result of these contacts, cross selling can either follow or additional sales may be an adjunct to the onboarding process.
  • While most onboarding is associated with checking accounts, purchases of all types of financial products and services may benefit from the onboarding process.  In developing and implementing onboarding programs, it is essential for providers to understand the consumer perspective. How do consumers respond to the onboarding process?  Do consumers consider some steps as valuable, while others are seen as too much of a good thing?  What channels are preferred?  This Phoenix SYNERGISTICS survey will examine these issues as well as others to provide financial institutions with clearer insight into the consumer perspective on the onboarding and sales process. [F250]


Cash Flow, Account Management, and Information Reporting

Traditional and Online Products

Unmet Needs and Issues

Key Finding from a Previous Phoenix SYNERGISTICS Research Survey:

Findings in Phoenix SYNERGISTICS 2016 survey, Optimizing Small Business Checking, revealed that less than a majority of small business checking holders handle cash management activities online by PC.  Are there opportunities for expansion in this area?

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Highlights of the Study

This study examines small businesses’ usage of cash management services for activities such as account management, information reporting, and cash flow, as well as their unmet needs in these areas.  Traditional and online methods of handling these activities are also assessed.

National Internet Survey – 600 small business owners/executives – 150 in the following sales volume categories – $50K-$99.9K, $100K-$499.9K, $500K-$999.9K, and $1M-$5M.  Industry categories include manufacturing, wholesale, retail, and services.

Key Dates

October 28, 2016 – Charter fee/Intro pricing ends.

October 28, 2016 – Final acceptance of comments on questionnaire.

January 2017 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • What attitudinal or perceptual factors exist among small business owners or executives related to aspects of cash management – such as cash flow, payments, and collections? What problems or issues do small businesses experience in terms of their payment and collection activities?  Is the term “cash management” associated with certain activities or functions?
  • Do small businesses place a priority on projecting cash flow? Is this done as a formal process, on an ad hoc basis, or at all?  To what extent are automated processes a part of this?
  • How extensive is usage of specific cash management services among small businesses – such as merchant processing, lock box services, balance reporting, and automated tax payments? Are there gaps that represent an opportunity for providers?  Are these services part of formal cash management programs or used on an individual basis?  Is cash management an element of the main checking provider relationship or are third-party providers involved in this?
  • What are the delivery channel implications of providing cash management services to small businesses? To what extent do small businesses initiate these activities themselves using online banking or software versus relying on business bankers or bank staff?  What devices are used and for what activities?  Do small businesses use or desire mobile access for cash management?
  • What is the current usage of and potential for services or devices to improve collections or manage payments for small businesses – including remote deposit capture, mobile card readers, accounts receivable conversion, and Positive Pay?
  • What are the benefits or advantages of cash management that can be promoted to broaden and increase usage of these services? What perceived disadvantages or concerns exist that may represent barriers to overcome?  Do many small businesses see this as only appropriate for larger companies?
  • Are there small business identifiers or descriptors – such as annual sales volume, business sector, or number of employees – that are useful in developing strategies and tactics for expanding usage of cash management services?

Research Issues

  • The ability to successfully manage cash flow can make or break a small business.  Increasingly, small business banks are recognizing this need and developing solutions to assist their customers with this important aspect of operating a business.  Under the cash management umbrella, banks can include a host of tools and services such as account management and information, deposits, payables and collections, electronic invoicing, and merchant services. Remote deposit capture systems are promoted to small businesses to encourage faster deposits without having to go to the branch.
  • Cash management products and services need to be specially tailored to the needs of small businesses rather than being just a do-over of those for middle market and larger corporations. A number of providers are offering a suite of online tools that are compatible with a business’s accounting software.  Cash management products and services are often provided through the relationship manager or business banker who is familiar with the small business.
  • In order to develop cash management solutions, providers need to understand the issues and unmet needs that should be addressed. It is valuable to examine what components small businesses need as part of a cash management solution and how they relate to other business operations.  Reaction to pricing also needs to be measured. With this information, providers will be able to develop and promote cash management products and services for small businesses, which can help strengthen the overall relationship. [F249]


Mobile Bill Pay, mPOS, and P2P

Fraud and Security Issues

Challenges and Opportunities

Key Finding from the Phoenix SYNERGISTICS Report:

More than half of mobile phone users find some appeal in the concept of biometrics as a means of completing a purchase or transaction.

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Highlights of the Study

This study examines consumer experience with various mobile payment activities – mobile bill pay, mPOS, and P2P.  Consumer reaction to fraud and security issues as related to mobile payments is also assessed.


National Internet Survey – 1,008 consumers age 18 or older.

Key Dates


December 2016 – Project Report available.

Strategic Questions

  • How widespread is usage of mobile bill payment?  Which access methods – biller sites/apps or FI sites/apps – are most used?  Do financial institutions face barriers in expanding usage of this service?
  • What is the consumer experience with mobile payments at the point of sale?  At which locations are these types of mobile payments most prevalent?  Are problems being encountered?
  • Have mobile P2P payments gained acceptance among consumers?  Which providers are prominent in this space?  Is there potential for wider adoption?  Are consumers willing to pay fees for immediate funds availability?
  • What experience have consumers had with mobile apps or scanners used by merchants for processing card payments?  Are these devices seen as being secure for payment transactions?
  • Are there benefits or advantages that providers should emphasize to encourage adoption of mobile payments and purchases?  What barriers or objections are impeding growth of this market?
  • What is the “next step” in innovative mobile payments capabilities?  How do consumers respond to biometric identification technology?  Will “wearables” have a place in the mobile payments space?
  • Which demographic or behavioral segments should providers focus on to increase and expand mobile payments activity?

Research Issues

  • According to the Pew Research Center, seven in ten U.S. consumers own a smartphone, representing a wide potential user base for mobile payments. Competition in mobile payments continues to be intense as new players and new services are announced on a regular basis.  Yet even with all the activity and potential in terms of user base, the market is experiencing growing pains.
  • Mobile payments can include a number of activities – mobile bill payment, mobile payment at the point of sale (mPOS), and person to person (P2P) mobile payments.  Mobile payments at the point of sale has seen a great deal of activity. The advent of Apple Pay was one of the most dramatic developments in this space.  Samsung Pay and Android Pay are now available for use by consumers. However, usage of these payment services has met with some difficulty and has not lived up to expectations.  For a number of years, P2P payment services were aggressively marketed, but activity appears to have declined. Mobile bill payment, an outgrowth of PC bill payment, has significant potential and may serve as a catalyst or first step for other types of mobile payments.  In addition, banks may be able to capture new or incremental online bill payment volume, particularly among millennial consumers who have an affinity for smartphones and apps.
  • The mobile payments market is also complex with a growing list of services and systems.  PayPal is a notable player and a major factor in the market. Projections regarding mobile payment users and transaction volume are wide and far ranging.  Some industry observers suggest that the innovators or early adopters have largely been captured and that for the remaining consumers mobile payments is a low priority.  Underlying all of this are consumers’ concerns regarding privacy, financial security, and fraud prevention. In this project, Phoenix SYNERGISTICS will evaluate the current status of mobile payments including mobile bill payment, mPOS, and P2P to assist providers in competing in this expanding market opportunity. [A89]