New Mobile App Development: Using Social Intelligence to Surpass Competitive Parity (Part One)

Bank of America Follows Competition with Mobile Banking, Falls Short in Eyes of Consumers

Application Design with Social Intelligence

The Application Design with Social Intelligence (ADSI) Model
The ADSI Model was developed by Crimson Hexagon to illustrate how social intelligence can play a pivotal role in an organization’s decision-making and innovation process. In this context, the ADSI Model offers a base framework from which organizations can design and implement a smart model for application innovation by leveraging the voice of the consumer as it relates to distinct business touchpoints. This same model can be employed in traditional product development settings, and used to inform cross-channel positioning strategies as well. Combining both business and competitive insight, the ADSI Model reveals consumers’ desired value elements, and helps the organization to achieve sustainable competitive advantage.

As smartphone adoption continues to boom, we see new mobile apps for every industry proliferate in the marketplace—everything from Spotify, to ESPN, to Geico. And for many new brands, the priority for developers has now largely shifted from desktop to mobile. The Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store are the new battleground for building brand loyalty.

Every day, consumers discuss what they value about bricks and mortar, online, and mobile experiences—about brands they love and products they dislike. All companies now strive to create the “best” mobile experience, but when does app functionality translate into competitive advantage?

In our research of online consumer commentary at Crimson Hexagon, we find that mobile becomes a value-added complement to the core product offering when brands understand the common denominators among consumers’ varied reviews of each experience. To achieve competitive advantage, we must determine how and why consumers interact with the brand at each touchpoint, and capitalize on this intelligence before the competition—because not every competitive advantage is sustainable, nor do consumer preferences remain static. So when our marketers, developers, decision-makers, and overall strategic thinkers, pose the open-ended question: “What are our competitors doing?”, we should naturally respond with a question in kind: “What does our target market value from products or services like ours?”

Such a strategic undertaking requires (1) evaluating consumer reactions to an existing mobile touchpoint, and then (2) linking these findings to the business context of a traditional offering–BofA’s checking experience. We were curious: how can we use insights from social media to inform strategic app development and enhancement initiatives?

For answers, we turned to Crimson Hexagon’s ForSight™ platform. In this study, we explored consumer discussion regarding traditional checking accounts at Bank of America. We then combined this information with consumer opinion of the mobile banking experience to give insight into the cross-channel banking experience at Bank of America.

Looking at the checking experience at Bank of America, account service was the largest theme of conversation. In particular, we found that checking customers place the most value on convenience and ease of fund access (34%). In addition, 24% of the conversation involves the expectation that checking accounts with BofA do not carry any hidden fees or overcharges. Many are surprised when their accounts are hit with fees of which they were previously unaware.

While convenience has the greatest appeal for BofA checking customers, we found that consumers are very particular when it comes to BofA’s maintenance of those accounts. In fact, 12% express a desire to disengage from Bank of America, specifically citing checking-related grievances for their departure.

Social Intelligence and Breakdown of Traditional Checking Accounts

After uncovering some of the business context around this traditional BofA offering, we took a deeper dive into the mobile channel of the banking experience. Mobile banking was the second largest driver of conversation related to checking accounts at Bank of America (27%).

Social Intelligence Desire for App Enhancements

From January 1st through the end of August, we found there was a very rich conversation by BofA customers clamoring for a variety of new application updates. The most prominent theme during this period was desire for a mobile check deposit feature. Consumers expressed their frustration online that other banks already offered this feature and that it was not yet available to Bank of America customers—downloadable on neither iPhone nor Android. The petition for enhancements to BofA’s mobile banking app peaks to 73% of the total conversation in July 2012.

Social Intelligence Topics for New App Enhancements

 

In August, Bank of America finally achieved competitive parity with the release of its new mobile check deposit feature—issuing subsequent upgrades for each mobile operating system. The first upgrade was rolled out for iPhone users; however, the frustrations of the Android population were not ameliorated until about a week later.

After releasing mobile check deposit, we see praise of this feature dominate the conversation (60%) over a three-month time period. However, this app upgrade was viewed as a competitive parity, only building short-term goodwill among consumers. In fact, praise of the mobile check deposit feature quickly eroded over this same time period. The proportion of conversation related to mobile check deposits decreased by 41% from August 1st to November 1st.

Social Intelligence Graph Illustrating Goodwill

Meanwhile, criticism of BofA’s mobile banking experience gained traction. The largest driver of negative conversation is consumer frustration with delayed deposits via the mobile app (13%). This sentiment presents us with a vivid illustration of consumer expectations related to a mobile touchpoint: when consumers snap a photo, send a tweet, get driving directions, or even update a fantasy squad, they’re thinking and operating in an instantaneous context. Therefore, when account balance and fund availability are not triggered right away through BofA’s mobile app, the functional disconnect between BofA’s traditional and mobile touchpoints becomes quite clear: mobile is failing to deliver the convenience desired by Bofa customers.

Social Intelligence Reactions to Mobile Banking App

One consumer’s comment best sums up this sentiment: “Don’t use the #Bofa mobile app!! It’s cool that you can deposit checks with your phone, but they don’t post for days!” -@torriegundersen.

Given what we’ve learned about the outcome of Bank of America’s application upgrade, and the mechanics of Crimson Hexagon’s Application Design with Social Intelligence (ADSI) Model, what could Bank of America have done differently? For insight into potential strategies and initiatives, look out for part two of our study releasing later in the week.

Has a company’s new mobile app ever failed to meet your expectations? Tweet us your story @crimsonhexagon! You can also request a demo of our social intelligence platform, ForSight.

Be sure to also sign up for our upcoming social intelligence webinar, “How Financial Institutions Can Gain Competitive Advantage Through Social Media Analysis,” on February 6 at 12:00 pm Eastern (9:00 am Pacific).


Written by Jehan Hamedi

Bridging the realms of technology marketing and social media, Jehan helps Fortune 500 firms learn how to harmonize the cacophony of online consumer data to solve complex business problems.

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