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With Mobile, Integration is Everything: Q&A With KeyBank's Dean Ilijasic

Deploying mobile as a channel could easily become a siloed exercise. But Cleveland-based KeyBank takes a different approach. Key SVP Dean Ilijasic explains the significance of mobile to the bank's multi-channel strategy.

In the scramble to meet customer demand for mobile banking, deploying a mobile channel can easily become a siloed exercise. Not so for Cleveland-based KeyBank ($86 billion in total assets), where emphasis on the tight integration of all channels also drives mobile development. Bank Systems & Technology contributor Anne Rawland Gabriel spoke recently with Dean Ilijasic, senior vice president and director of consumer and small business innovation at Key, about the significance of mobile to the bank's multi-channel strategy and where it plans to go from here.

How does your mobile channel fit into Key's overall multi-channel strategy?

Ilijasic: Throughout the evolution of our channels we've found that customers will use all of them -- no matter what new channel comes along, no one abandons any one of them.

For us, this means the experience needs to be optimized and consistent across all channels -- any given channel isn't just a redo of a previous channel. For example, we'll soon be rolling out mobile for tablets and it will be optimized for that experience, not just a migration of the experience on a smartphone.

And, whether a customer calls us, goes online, sends us a text or stops by an ATM to check their balance, the answer should be the same across all those channels.

To accomplish this, the responsibility for all of our channels to rolls up to one individual whose department is purposefully named "Integrated Channel Management." We use this strategy to send a message to ourselves that "integrated" is how we approach everything, even though a bank of our age and size has evolved many different platforms and technologies.

What are the primary components of Key's mobile channel?

Ilijasic: Secure. Easy. Saves time.

Security is first because the best-designed solution won't get used unless it's secure. And, security is still the number one reason why non-adopters haven't used online or mobile banking. We tackle that through education, including with our bankers, because it's customers walking into our branches that are frequently uncomfortable with new technology.

Of course ease of use and saving time are still important, which comes from experiences that customers bring to us from outside the financial services industry. They may have had a wonderful experience at a retailer’s Web site and they expect the same from us.

How does Key differentiate its mobile channel from others in the market?

Ilijasic: We don't use differentiation as a driver for developing a product or a service. Instead, we start with client needs and build from there.

But, if we develop something that's truly a differentiator, that's fantastic. On such offering is the ability to use our text banking regardless of whether you're an online banking client or not – that's unique to only a handful of banks.

Another is the performance of our mobile Web site, which we take a lot of pride in. Compuware's Gomez [Detroit, Mich.] representatives helped us define a unique monitoring solution for our mobile banking services. As a result, our mobile Web performance in 2011 achieved an average availability of 99.51 percent with an average response time of 4.497 seconds and an average response consistency of 3.866 seconds standard deviation.

What specific multi-channel initiatives has Key recently completed?

Ilijasic: We had a homegrown bill pay system that we’d taken as far as we could. We selected FIS [Jacksonville, Fla.] as bill pay partner and they worked closely with our other primary multi-channel partners – mFoundry [Larkspur, Calif.] for mobile applications and Fiserv [Brookfield, Wisc.] for our core systems.

Then we built a new solution, while retaining our "good funds model," that can be accessed either online or via mobile. In addition to introducing expedited payments and e-bills as new bill pay features, we also cut the typical time frame to pay a bill. We went from three days for electronic and five days for paper, to two and four days, respectively. Also, we improved the overall experience by making everything one click away, rather than several clicks as before.

Not surprisingly, the biggest challenge during the process was moving off a home-grown system. As an organization, we had to rethink everything – from the user interface to back-end monitoring. And, we had to educate our customers and our bankers, which we did through online "how-to" and informational videos as well as traditional communications.

So far, adoption has been strong since our launch last fall. Despite minimal marketing, about 30 percent of our electronic banking customers are bill pay customers. Also, month-over-month we’re seeing steady increases in eBills presented, expedited payments issued and electronic payments processed.

How about mobile, what specific initiatives has Key recently completed?

Ilijasic: Our most recent initiative is mobile apps, which we just rolled out for Apple, Android and Blackberry. All of them are far exceeding expectations in terms of the number of downloads and usage – app users log in between two and three times a week, so they really are actively engaged with us. Best of all, there’s been no drop off in demand for other channels.

For apps, getting bankers accustomed to demonstrating them has been the biggest challenge. Bankers need to be comfortable whipping out a phone, turning it around to the customer and saying "here's how I do it."

What's next for Key, how will you be keeping your multi-channel strategies fresh?

Ilijasic: It's a matter of staying on top of consumer demand. For mobile, we’re looking at P2P and remote deposit capture.

More broadly, we're considering the needs of the Millennials and the mass affluent. It’s important to not only customize and optimize experiences in all channels based on the interface but also WHO the target audience is. For example, we’ve studied Millennials they may want to work with you differently, and perhaps through a completely different interface – even on the same device – than a Baby Boomer or Gen-Xer.

And, I'm sure in six months or a year there will even be something new for us to investigate on the horizon.

Bottom-line, how is Key's mobile strategy benefiting your overall multi-channel approach?

Ilijasic: We know that the customers who use mobile channels are more engaged. And, the more engaged they are, the more loyal they are. There’s a clear benefit to that.

See Also: The Secrets to Chase's Mobile Success: Exclusive Q&A With SVP Ravi Acharya

Anne Rawland Gabriel is a technology writer and marketing communications consultant based in the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. Among other projects, she's a regular contributor to UBM Tech's Bank Systems & Technology, Insurance & Technology and Wall Street & Technology ... View Full Bio

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