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Five Steps to Building a Mobile Alert Strategy


Today’s always-on culture has created a demand for constant connectivity amongst consumers. This demand extends to financial services, where consumers want access to up-to-date information that helps them keep tabs on where their money is and where it’s going. A comprehensive alert strategy can provide consumers with an effective tool for personal financial management, while enabling banks and credit unions to create a platform for engaging with customers and meeting compliance demands.

According to Javelin Strategy & Research, 74 million adults are receiving financial alerts online and on their mobile devices, through either emails or texts. Financial institutions have an opportunity to engage with these consumers through more robust alerting strategies, while reaching others who have yet to opt into alerts. Indeed, Fiserv research has shown that consumers gravitate to products and services that help them manage and control their finances more effectively, including alerts.

Historically, many financial institutions have viewed alerts as a necessary cost of doing business and have kept alert offerings simple. Transitioning to an enterprise alert strategy takes time, planning and sustained investment to ensure that the offering can evolve over time to keep pace with customer preferences and regulatory demands. The effort is worth it, though, because a robust set of alerting capabilities will facilitate financial management for customers and enable financial institutions to deliver a range of actionable alerts via multiple channels and devices. More robust capabilities can also allow financial institutions to stay in step with regulatory requirements related to consumer notifications, allowing the financial institutions to track alerts and resulting consumer activities, and facilitate consumer management of alert preferences.

As with any new product or service, it has to be easy for consumers to register or enroll for alerts and get started. There should be a variety of enrollment channels and both the enrollment and preference management processes should be clear and easy to understand. The consumer should be in control at all times − during enrollment and after − should they want to change alert preferences or opt out.  To avoid disappointing customers and triggering unnecessary customer care calls, financial institutions should try to understand ahead of time what information is valuable and provide clear, timely and actionable alerts based on those preferences, which consumers can change as they see fit.

Since the opportunities for alerts are so broad and span multiple lines of business, we recommend phasing in alert types in the following five stages:

  • Account-centered alerts specific to account activity, including low balance, direct deposit and large debit amount.
  • Event-based alerts that indicate when bills are due, person-to-person (P2P) payments are requested and other events that may prompt a follow-up action.
  • Security-related alerts that notify when accounts may be compromised, like when there are international charges on a credit card, suspicious transactions or passwords have been changed.
  • Customer care information initiated by either the customer or the bank, for example; “Your auto lease is up for renewal. Do you want us to call you to discuss it?”
  • Actionable insights that provide financial management tips and guidance based on the customer’s activity. For example, a bank may send a text message to the customer that says, “We noticed you spent less money on groceries last month. Would you like us to put that money into your savings account?”

Once a strategic enterprise alerts program is in place, financial institutions can drive alert adoption by focusing on consumers who are most interested in receiving alerts and have the greatest need for them. Banks and credit unions can use information gleaned from their own research and consumer segmentation efforts, or utilize research conducted by others, to identify and target these key segments. This will also help ensure the financial institution delivers alerting capabilities that meet consumers’ specific needs.

Consumer demand for timely, relevant and actionable alerts combined with new technologies should encourage financial institutions to revisit their current alert strategy. Now is the time to create an enterprise alerts strategy that satisfies consumer demands, makes products more interactive and generates true value for the organization.

Ms. Frost is director, Mobile Marketing, for Brookfield, Wisc.-based Fiserv. She can be reached at [email protected]