Archive | July, 2008

iPhone already making an impact

Those of you in Australia, particularly Melbourne and Sydney, will know the hype and subsequent sales of iPhones at Optus, Vodafone and Telstra stores over the weekend was hard to ignore. The launch of the 3G phone had much lead up coverage and consumer excitement, to the point where I personally witnessed the queue outside Melbourne’s T-Life store in the Bourke St Mall. When I asked if I could just go in the store for a look (not at the iPhone) I was told to join the queue by the security people on the front door – I was waiting for some line like ‘not in those shoes’, as if it was some desirable night club … not sure if Telstra will ever reach those heights.

And so the conversations and work begins on iphone ready internet banking (and other related functions).

ANZ have already launched something capable of working with the iPhone (has their java app failed then?) – this from their press release: “The initial functionality available to iPhone users visiting anz.com will include the tailor-made webpage and the choice of functions including Contact us, Locate us, and View Regular anz.com, as well as the ability to use the normal ANZ internet banking service. Over the coming weeks and months the purpose built iPhone banking service will be expanded to include View account balances, View your transaction history, Transfer between your accounts and Pay anyone.” Baby steps for ANZ, but platform and compatability/rendering issues will be the first hurdle.

Commsec are allowing trades using the iPhone – “CommSec clients with iPhones can login anywhere, keep up to date with market news and prices, research companies and their performance, monitor their stock portfolio, and buy and sell shares.” Interesting point made in the press release – “Rather than just accessing a website through the iPhone, the new purpose-built CommSec iPhone Edition enables customers to make the most of iPhone touch-screen functionality.” This is an important distinction to make, to ensure we know they’ve taken the unique user experience of the iPhone into account, not just the fact that its a mobile. There’s a demo you can watch here.

Jim at Netbanker gives us a good overview here on Kiwibanks iPhone offering, and also reveals the initial customer reaction of the BofA solution (and some background on BofA and Paypal apps). Again, an interesting point – “Their main complaint: it’s not really a native app, just a front door to the bank’s existing mobile site.” This again emphasises the importance of the context and environment of the experience is as important as the task and functionality on offer – they must be aligned.

How important is this speed to market for the bank brands, to be associated with one of the most anticipated products in years… to finally get their IB platforms to meet REAL mobile phone standards??

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New poll on Migration to Self Service

An important focus for many banks is Migration of customers from assisted channels such as branches and call centres, to self-service channels such as internet and phone banking for basic transactional and account checks and maintenance. 2.0 businesses like Mint.com and others are increasingly showing the capability possible in self-service, whilst banks like St George and Suncorp have evolving speech recognition systems, NAB has click to chat, and as we’ve seen recently, automated click to chat.

How open do you think customers will be to these new interactions? How important is this to your business? Comments welcome and vote in the poll in the left hand column.

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Australians want their questions answered in their own accent

Julian Lee from SMH writes on the customer dissatisfaction of call centres overseas, and the subsequent response to re-domicile call centres back to Aus, in ‘Overseas call centres being put on hold’:

“The contact centre technology company Avaya says only one in 10 Australians is happy to talk to someone at the other end of the line knowing that person is overseas.

Woolworths, a newcomer to the field, has handed the task of fielding calls about its new loyalty card to Australians working from home, whom the industry calls “agents”. It has chosen the bush over Bangalore. And, in recognition of what a friendly and professional voice can do to a brand, it is exploring ways of turning what has been a reactive tool into an active one.”

Home based agents could become the key in keeping costs low (as low as they were in an offshore environment, that is ironically increasing in cost itself, as agents and professionals there use the demand from the west to ask for better wages and conditions – to the point where some western businesses relocate back to home for cost reasons, as well as customer experience). Home based agents, as well as under utilised branch staff, could contribute to reducing costs, GOS, AHT, and all those other delightful measures…

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Read some stories on usability

Have a read of some stories from the Physical Interface blog. Particularly interesting one on the development of the Wells Fargo ATM screens.

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eBay takes two steps forward and one step back with PayPal

eBay’s decision to back down on PayPal changes comes as no suprise, but make no mistake, it’s still a big step forward for the auction great in the Australian market.

Since sharing my thoughts on the PayPal mandate back in April, it became more and more obvious as time went on that the eBay proposal would have to be pruned back. For many, this decision renews confidence in the ACCC as more than a toothless tiger – even though it enlisted the support of many interested parties to support its position.

What would have been a huge win for eBay in pushing PayPal has not all been lost – in fact far from it. Somewhat buried in the backlash against eBay is that the fact that the use of PayPal as a payment method (along with other accepted methods that seller elects to accept) is still mandatory – meaning every listing on eBay.com.au will include PayPal as a payment method.

There are great benefits for eBay and consumers with this move, to list a few:

  • Significant growth of registered PayPal users in Australia
  • Revenue upside through icnreased use of PayPal as a payment method
  • Improved customer experience for buyers through buyer protection and ease of payment
  • Faster access to money for sellers through ‘instant’ payment capability

There continues to be absolutely no doubt about the convenience PayPal delivers to consumers, I remain a big advocate for the service, but I am very happy that both buyers and sellers have a choice (albeit that the blue “P” is forced as one).

The only issue that remains is the fact that PayPal is simply more expensive for sellers to accept vs. bank transfer. Arguably this will increase the base price of eBay listings (in turn lifting eBays final value fee revenue) as sellers look to recoup costs associated with accepting PayPal payments. eBay strictly forbids sellers from charging a surcharge for accepting PayPal… Does this ring any RBA & ACCC Interchange bells for anyone?

All-in-all a good outcome if you ask me… Now, I am off to check out that funky new eBay Big Game Bargain Hunters TVC

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Top 100 Aussie 2.0 sites

Have a look through the list as compiled at Future Exploration Network. A couple of interesting financial sites (interesting, but not necessarily great) – Saasu, an online accounting site; InvoicePlace, send invoices and quotes; eWise, an account aggregation tool (apparently used by Westpac); FactsOnline, for calculators, budgets etc.

This beautifully simple site also allows you to click for charity – we’ve seen it before, but Ripple gives you a choice of fund or type of donation for your precious click.

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