By Jaina Baumgartner, Director of Digital Strategy at RDA, Coveo MVP

A statistic recently caught my eye on the American Bankers Association (ABA) website: “only 56% of consumers said they would NOT consider switching a bank for a digital feature.”

That means almost half of banking consumers would go through all the hassle of applying for a new account, getting new cards, activating those cards, transferring funds, redoing all their automatic payments, redoing their direct deposits, just for one digital experience feature that another bank offers! 

To be honest, I’m not that surprised. I tried to get some money out of my bank account from their mobile app recently. I couldn’t figure out how to transfer it, and I was so frustrated that the money is still in my bank account. What is surprising though, in that same survey ABA reported 9% of consumers said they would switch their banks for a smart assistant integration. (e.g.: Alexa or Google Home.) 

What consumers want is answers to their questions, and for someone to provide them help, even when they’re banking digitally. And in comes the hero of our story: intelligent search for mobile banking, aka the one feature you might want to double down on. 

But before we enter the world of intelligent search, let’s first discuss the mobile banking trend.

How Important Is the Mobile Experience for a Bank?

In 1994, Bill Gates said “although banking is a necessity, banks are not.” (To reassure the financial folks out there, he was talking about physical locations.) Now post pandemic, we are seeing a significant move towards mobile banking and a shift away from brick and mortar. 

Mobile banking was already the most popular method for American consumers to interact with their bank accounts before COVID-19, according to Banking Dive. But ABA published survey results in October 2021, to showcase that proportion of banking customers using mobile platforms had jumped 11 points. And incidentally the proportion of customers for whom in-branch visits were the top option fell by the same margin – 11 points – in the same time frame. 

To add to that insight, real estate company JLL found that in 2019, 1,664 net bank branches closed, which rose to 2,284 in 2020.

Where Do Customers Turn for Financial Information and Help?

It’s clear that customers are using mobile banking extensively. However, as bank branches close, where do users turn to answer their questions around financial planning and management? We can look to a few usual — and some unusual — suspects for that answer:

  • Search: Google has seen a 70% increase in queries related to financial planning and management in the last 2 years.
  • Tiktok: Forbes reported that top “finfluencers” on TikTok have as much as 8.9 million followers.
  • Chatbots in their mobile apps: According to Fortunly, chatbots were projected to handle 75-90% of banking queries by 2022 and deployment of chatbots will save the banking industry $7.3 billion in annual customer service cost by 2023.

And this brings us back to why your bank should consider investing in intelligent search.

A survey conducted by The Financial Brand found that more customers view their banks as a necessary utility rather than a trusted partner or advisor. Traditionally, customers went into physical branches to talk with bank staff face to face — it’s just how it was done. 

With branches closing, banks need to dispel the perception of being a utility so that their customers don’t go elsewhere for advice (aka TikTok and Google). Intelligent search could be the key. 

So what is intelligent search

Intelligent search means leveraging machine learning (ML) to deliver relevant and personalized results within a customer’s context. In this case, the context is mobile banking as users are performing their everyday banking activities and account management. 

Embedded within the bank’s mobile app, the right search engine will be able to leverage the information the organization already has about consumers as well as real-time behavioral information. With this, the right information is brought to customers, rather than them having to sort through the weeds on non authoritative sites like TikTok and Google — at the risk of getting bad or sketchy advice. 

With an intelligent search engine connected to a unified index, customers become empowered to find answers for themselves (saving your company money!). Within the same context, that same unified index can also connect customers with their customer service representatives for partnership, advice, and guidance, making them the next-generation of in-context influencers.

And all of this can happen within the banking mobile app, that you use almost everyday.

Intelligent Search for Mobile Banking With Coveo

For an intelligent search engine to provide those gold standards, it must have four elements. Below we discuss those elements, and how Coveo delivers on each:

1) Headless Architecture

A headless search experience simply means that your search is decoupled from your application’s framework and platform. It can be called via APIs — no matter how your mobile experience is constructed. This gives you the flexibility and scalability to use the platforms and frameworks that are right for your business. 

An image illustrates a headless platform.

It also allows you to have full control over styling – creating and designing the search experience that works seamlessly into your mobile application or experience. With headless, you can insert intelligent search into your existing mobile application without requiring an overhaul or redesign of your current mobile banking experience.

Coveo’s Headless library works as a middle-layer for applications. It opens communication between UI elements in your platform and framework for your mobile application and Coveo interactions.

2) Unified Search

A fragmented search experience delivers search results from each content source separately. With mobile,  fragmented search would deliver content that lives only within that mobile application or website. A federated search engine gives users one search interface, but simultaneously searches multiple, usually disparate databases. 

In contrast, Coveo is a unified search engine. It creates a single unified index of content from all content repositories. In the case of a mobile app, you can now pull data from any key areas within your digital ecosystem to provide users with the information they need. This can include your CRM, knowledge repositories, digital asset management tools, etc. You can also connect to legacy applications, saving you time and money, without putting the pressure to migrate data or install system replacements. 

Basically, you give a customer the information they’re searching for, regardless of where that information lives, and provide it in the channel the customer wants — in this case, their mobile app. Simple, fast, and intuitive, which is just how customers like it. 

3) AI-Powered Personalized Results

BCG predicts for every $100 billion in assets a bank has, it can achieve as much as $300 million in revenue growth by personalizing its customer’s experiences. An AI-powered search platform uses machine learning to tailor 1:1 personalized experiences, which means you can offer personalization at scale without needing an army of personalization experts. 

Coveo provides personalization by responding to user interactions, intent, and context to provide them with radically personalized content discovery. Coveo captures behavioral data, clicks, query terms, and more to understand your customer’s interactions. 

You can augment this data with information about the user from your Customer Data Platform (CDP). Coveo can use this historical data to personalize for authenticated customers — but it can also use real-time interactions to shape experiences. This level of cold-start personalization means your prospects get a unique experience that caters to them, even when you may not know who they are. 

For mobile, , you can apply this level of personalization via:

  • Coveo’s recommenders to provide answers, information, and recommendations on areas of the app with the highest friction. It can deliver top three personalized FAQs in each section
  • Self-service type ahead, query suggestions, and results for content and question based simpler queries to help customers find answers faster
  • Using complex queries and advice-based questions, connecting customers and experts in real-time
  • Chatbots within apps that can guide the conversation based on the needs of the customer, and redirect to the appropriate person for more complex queries and advice
  • Deliver interaction and historical data about the customer to the experts answering questions, so that they can better guide customers experiences
An image illustrates how intelligent search can connect content repositories.

4) Robust Analytics

Search analytics (on user interactions with search results; queries, content, and results that provide the best interactions and conversions; and top queries that generate no results) can be essential in devising content creation strategies. Your strategies will be based on user behavior and deliver answers to your customers when and where they need it. 

Coveo search analytics provide insights on not just keywords but also your customers, allowing you to speak their language. Coveo’s advanced search metrics monitor search results that are relevant in every interaction. By unearthing  zero-result searches, you can fill gaps in your content strategy and ensure that the new content you create delivers answers to your customers. 

Coveo can also provide customer service analytics dashboards using AI to evaluate the success rate of self-service content. If that is not enough, you can use Coveo to figure out the journey of your users on your mobile app and build custom reports and dashboards that are specific to your business.

In Summary

Mobile applications and experiences continue to gain market share every day. With a shift away from brick and mortar, it is important for customers to still turn to their banks for advice, expertise, and partnership.

Intelligent search can be the key to offering the digital experience your customers expect. Coveo is a trend-setter within the intelligent search platforms arena, especially for mobile banking because of its four distinct features: headless architecture, unified search, AI-based personalized results, and robust analytics. 

If you are a bank, mobile banking should be on the top of your mind. Coveo intelligent search is a no brainer. What are you waiting for?