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Loyalty in banking is a case in point

I recently came across an e-mail from a customer; they wanted to know why they could only see six transactions on their banking app, but far more online. It’s a good question and apparently one that others had contacted us about. We fixed it and introduced a much longer statement history for customers to view on their banking app.

Now that customer and the millions of others, who regularly use mobile and tablet apps, can see more detail on their accounts without touching a paper statement or going near their desktop.

This is how we began to create and develop mobile banking – a helpful service which was based on customers’ feedback and needs. We started out more than five years ago, with a very modest investment of £50,000, and a handful of incredibly enthusiastic internet specialists.

We initially focused on smaller and more basic services, such as SMS text alerts. The reaction from customers bowled us over and has only grown since then. In a single year, from July 2012, we sent more than 29 million alerts, telling customers their balance and recent transactions, and if they were nearing or already in their overdraft.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg; customers wanted more and, based on their feedback, we’ve gradually expanded what mobile can do. We now move over £2.6 billion in payments and transfers every week, and we’ve extended the services we offer like “Get Cash”, which allows customers to leave their debit card at home and withdraw cash with a generated secure code at any RBS, NatWest or Tesco ATM.

The bank’s main source of information is its customers – we interact with them daily, via social media, to communicate and repair situations proactively, as well as strengthen relationships

Another service is “Pay Your Contacts” which lets customers send money to anyone with a valid UK Visa card, using only their mobile phone number and no lengthy registration process.

It’s about simplicity, making sure customers can do their banking quickly, efficiently and easily. We have developed apps for iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Android and Windows, which are simple and easy to use. A customer can login and check their balance in 9.5 seconds flat – that’s faster than Usain Bolt can run 100 metres.

But really good digital services are not just about making things simpler; they also provide a unique opportunity to build a really strong relationship with the customer. Webchat was developed in 2012. It took an existing online banking telephony helpdesk and converted it into a free, silent and 24/7 way to engage with customers. Webchat now handles more than 30,000 chats a week and generates over 1,200 new sales.

In fact, the bank’s main source of information is its customers – we interact with them daily, via social media, to communicate and repair situations proactively, as well as strengthen relationships.

We are now looking ahead to work beyond traditional banking, to work out how we can help people do more with their money. One development we’re looking into is utilising customers’ expenditure data to provide them with more detailed statements, and rewarding them for their spending through our relationships with major retailers and partners.

A focus on customers’ needs has resulted in 2.5 million people using RBS apps, on average 27 times each month, and we reached a major milestone of one billion logins to our apps just last month.

But not everyone, particularly older people, has a mobile device or understands how to use the technology. So how do you reach these potential digital banking customers? The answer – “digizones” with iPads across flagship branches, with trained advisers who can demonstrate digital services and the opportunities they hold.

One of the key successes of our digital services is that they appeal to everyone, from 18 to 80 years old. I’d like as many of our customers as possible to experience how useful they can be. You don’t even need a mobile phone or tablet to experience the way we’re transforming digital banking.

While there may be market pressure to innovate for innovations sake, our net promoter score indicates a customer-focused approach is valued by customers themselves. As long as they use the app, and feedback on what works and needs to change, we can continue to develop our services.