FI Spotlight: Arvest Bank

In our latest FI Spotlight we got the opportunity to speak with Jason Kincy, Marketing Director at Arvest Bank. In our Q&A below, Jason talks to us about the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, customer satisfaction and social media. Arvest Bank ranks highest both in the South Central Region and in the Southwest Region in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Retail Banking Satisfaction StudySM. This is the fourth year that Arvest has been recognized with a regional award. Arvest has been ranked highest in satisfaction with retail banking in the Southwest (2010, 2011, 2012), Southeast (2009) and South Central (2010, 2012) regions.


Q: In a few sentences, can you tell me about Arvest Bank?
A: Arvest Bank operates more than 240 bank branches in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Missouri and Kansas through a network of 16 locally managed banks, each with its own board of directors and management team. These banks serve customers in 90 communities with 12-hour weekday banking at most locations. Arvest also provides a wide range of banking services including loans, deposits, treasury management, asset and wealth management, life insurance, credit cards, mortgage loans and mortgage servicing. Arvest operates a mortgage company, asset management company, insurance division and mortgage servicing company.

Q: In the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Retail Banking Satisfaction Study, Arvest Bank scored among the best in all categories: overall satisfaction, product offerings, facility, account information, fees and account activities. What do you attribute to your success in scoring so high on the J.D. Power Rankings?
A: No bank is perfect and we have areas that we’re working hard to improve. Arvest focuses on providing many of the banking attributes that drive customer satisfaction. We operate a way that makes banking convenient no matter how the customer defines convenience – whether that’s at an extended hours branch location, on the phone, online or via mobile banking. When we do interact with customers on a personal transaction, our associates provide an efficient and courteous experience for the customer. These interaction experiences combined with fairly priced fees and an account lineup with options for everyone combine to create a satisfied customer.

Q: Do you have any advice for FI’s looking to raise their banking satisfaction scores?
A: Every institution and market is different, but there are some general principles that banks performing highly in customer service rating generally share, so we, like many banks study customer satisfaction studies and trends to learn from the top performers. Creating value to the customer is key to their satisfaction. Arvest is very responsive to customer feedback provided in person or through customer surveys and will take action when an adjustment is needed. This responsiveness allows us to fix small issues before they become large customer frustrations and to tweak our products or services based on customer needs, which leads to happier customers.

Q: On your website, you have a “How are we doing?” survey for customers. How long have you had this survey on your site?
A: We have conducted online surveys for several years. The customer has the option to choose to provide feedback on a branch, telephone or online experience.

Q: Is it a useful tool for obtaining customer feedback?
A: Yes. We receive many surveys from customers and they are generally very transparent in their feedback. The surveys are provided to the local market where the customer does their banking so that local management can address service levels accordingly and follow up directly with the customer when appropriate.

Q: Arvest received a high score in the product offerings section of the J.D. Powers Rankings. What range of products do you offer to your customers?
A: We believe our product lineup has something for everyone, whether you want an extremely basic account or an account with total relationship value added services.  The addition of perks that are becoming more popular like family identity theft coverage has created an overall perception of value. Our checking accounts range from free with no balance requirements to fee based accounts with the options and perks customers have told us are important to them.

Q: We know mobile banking has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. Have you seen the same trend with Arvest customers?
A: Arvest has provided free mobile banking since late 2007 and transitioned to an improved offering in October of 2011. We have SMS/Text banking, mobile web banking and apps for iPhone and Android. Our growth over the past 12 months has been phenomenal, with our user base doubling in size. Mobile banking will continue to grow at a torrid pace and we expect it to become increasingly more integral in how customers do their banking.

Q: Let’s talk social. Arvest is on Facebook and Twitter. Do you view social channels as a good way to interact with customers?
A: Yes, it allows us to participate in communication spaces where many of our customers are. It’s another way to share your brand themes and persona.

Q: How has social media helped Arvest with customer communication?
A: Social media has allowed us to share information that doesn’t fit a traditional website such as community events, up to date announcements and consumer education. A very valuable component of social media to banks is the ability to observe customer sentiment and opinions and then apply those to maintaining quality service. Many customers will be more unfiltered with their opinion in social media than they will in a formal survey.

Q: Is there anything else you want to add?
A: Maintaining quality service requires an ongoing effort to continue to deliver on customer expectations. Even though Arvest has won multiple J.D. Power and Associates trophies over the past few years, we have a team of associates who look for weaknesses in the study to identify areas where we can improve. We also research the top performers to try and learn what makes them successful.

BITS: Prepaid Access Cards: Overview And Emerging Risks

BITS, the technology policy division of The Financial Services Roundtable, recently released its Prepaid Access Card White Paper. Below is the executive summary. To read the full paper, visit BITS.

Executive Summary:

As financial institutions look for new ways to serve customers, prepaid access cards are an emerging market. Estimates of card load volume range from $116 billion to $350 billion in 2012. The National Foundation for Consumer Credit Counseling (NFCC) 2012 Financial Literacy study revealed that 13%, or about 30.5 million Americans, use prepaid debit cards to pay for everyday transactions such as groceries, gas, dining out, paying bills and shopping online.

The evolving prepaid access card market brings with it new risks and challenges. Through BITS, the technology policy division of The Financial Services Roundtable, financial institution fraud risk management experts developed this overview of the prepaid access card market. This paper provides an overview of the different types and uses of prepaid access cards, regulations and consumer protections, risks, evolving criminal use, investigative challenges and “red flags” to assist law enforcement, financial crimes investigators, financial institutions and industry stakeholders to address fraud risks.

Continue reading here.

© BITS/The Financial Services Roundtable 2012. All Rights Reserved.


What We’re Reading: Olympics, Mobile and PFM

Below are interesting stories the staff has been reading over the past week. What have you been reading? Let us know in the comments section below or Tweet @bankingdotcom.

  • 7 Olympic Training Lessons For Your Finances

If you’ve been watching the Olympics at all, you may be amazed at what often look like superhuman feats.  These feats are performed by real life super heroes such as Ryan Lochte and Michael Phelps. What we don’t see is all the years of training and preparing for that moment. That’s why Forbes’ reporter Erik Carter finds how Olympic athletes train to be so interesting. In looking at their training, he also discovered that there’s a lot that can be applied to get financially fit too.

Read more

  • Checking in on mobile banking

Mobile Payments Today

A recent Fed study learned that 21 percent of U.S. mobile phone owners were already using mobile banking on a regular basis. How regular? Well, looking at the data across mFoundry’s nearly 700 banks and credit unions indicates that mobile banking customers are accessing the system 4-5 times a week, with some power users hitting the system 4-5 times a day. Comparing that to another hot mobile category, social media, shows numbers that aren’t that different.

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  • Developing countries lead the way in deploying mobile technology

Cell phone use in the developing world has climbed to nearly 5 billion mobile subscriptions, and three-quarters of the world now has access to mobile networks. This technology is reshaping the way individuals and communities manage their finances, monitor weather, engage with government, and earn a living, according to the recent World Bank Maximizing Mobile report. “People are going from zero to 60. It is huge to go from no phone at all to a cellphone,” says Anne Nelson, international media development specialist and adjunct professor at Columbia University. “The rapid penetration of cellphones in developing countries is changing lives dramatically.”

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  • The Future Of Facebook Is Mobile Payments

Seeking Alpha

In 2008, Facebook (FB) was the #2 social network in the world, behind MySpace. By December 2008, MySpace and Facebook were neck-and-neck with 59 million U.S. visitors each. Then came the January explosion: Facebook shot ahead to 68.5 million U.S. Visitors in January, while MySpace actually lost 1 million people. Before the month was half out, Facebook had clocked a cool 150 million users as parents everywhere joined in droves. By December that number was 350 million members making 45 million status updates every day. Mind numbing at the time, those figures seem quaint today.

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  • New row brewing over PFM sites?

Tech Central

A fresh row may be brewing over banking clients sharing their Internet banking details with online personal financial management (PFM) sites after Nedbank, one of SA’s big four retail banks, on Thursday announced it was launching its own PFM product in which it will encourage its clients to do exactly that. Earlier this year, Nedbank rival Absa said it would block Yodlee, the US technology partner of independent PFM provider 22seven, from accessing the bank’s online banking service so that it can “screen-scrape” customers’ financial data. Nedbank’s launch of its own PFM tool, which also uses Yodlee as its technology service provider, could increase the pressure on other banks to allow access by third parties to their clients’ financial information. PFM sites provide a comprehensive, often graphical overview of people’s financial state and budgets.

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  • Line cutting: Mobile checkout headed to a store near you

USA Today

Nordstrom is quickly replacing cash registers with mobile checkout, joining J.C. Penney, Apple and what’s expected to be a rush of other retailers to embrace technology to eliminate lines. This weekend, J.C. Penney’s new Levi’s shops will have iPads for customers to use for online browsing and for salespeople to check out customers. J.C. Penney hopes to get rid of cashiers and cash registers by 2014, and instead have salespeople use iPod Touch devices to check out customers, or self-checkout lanes. Starting this weekend, salespeople in Penney’s new Levi’s shops will use only iPads to check out customers.

Read more

Social Banking: Blessing or Curse?

While the topic of Facebook and banking has generated plenty of heat (though not necessarily a lot of light), the debate seems mostly focused on two broad issues: The much-maligned IPO, and the notion that the company might take business away from the banking sector, such as through Facebook Credits or a self-branded credit card.

The IPO, of course, continues to stir debate—just this week, it was reported that UBS AG, Switzerland’s largest bank (by assets) took a hit of more than $350 million, nearly half its entire second-quarter profit, on the ill-fated deal. (UBS now plans to join several other brokerage institutions readying legal action against NASDAQ). As for Facebook serving becoming a financial institution itself, the mobile payment system for third-party developers got a facelift recently, and there’s now a better subscription billing system.  However, speculation still seems further along than reality.

But there’s another strain emerging that might have even greater ramifications. This is where global financial services conglomerates enable individuals, and perhaps businesses, to do their banking via Facebook.

It’s not as if banks aren’t aware of Facebook—they all have a presence on the social network platform, and quite a few have built branded communities on it. However, that’s still more marketing than finance. What’s happening now goes quite a bit further.

Much of the early action seems to be coming from overseas. First National Bank of South Africa, ASB Bank of New Zealand and Commonwealth Bank of Australia are all launching apparently major initiatives to capitalize on ‘social banking.’ Essentially, the plan is to enable peer-to-peer (P2P) payments over the network between ‘friends.’ Of course, it almost certainly won’t stop there: It’s easy to envision a future in which virtually all consumer transactions, including bill payments, are done over Facebook, since just about everyone and everything is a member anyway.

For the record, skeptics are already out in force, warning consumers that blurring the line between a bank and a social network could bring serious problems. But it may be too late to put the genie back in the bottle. While somewhat smaller financial institutions can be perceived as risk-takers, Citigroup is something else entirely. That financial powerhouse is now asking customers whether they would do their banking via Facebook. It’s also been noted that JP Morgan Chase actually has more ‘likes’ on Facebook than Citi, and is surely looking for ways to monetize that advantage. Besides, as more financial transaction are conducted via mobile applications, the prospect of drastically altering banking practices doesn’t seem nearly so outlandish.

Looking ahead, it’s important to understand that any wholesale change in banking will not take place in a vacuum—Facebook will change, along with user habits, security measures, regulations, etc., before that happens. While it already counts a sixth of the world’s population as members, Facebook is still simplistic in terms of its interface and primitive in its technology underpinnings. Look at the typical user interface—there’s virtually no distinction permissible between different categories of ‘friends,’ or non-transparent and secure ways to do much business. That’s almost surely going to change.

Most consumers now do almost all their communicating via Facebook, just as social networking and social media are no longer separate entities but woven into every aspect of our lives. At some point, everything will become, in some sense, ‘social.’ The idea that banking can somehow stay immune is naïve. Instead of resisting it, let’s just do our part to make it easy, secure and profitable.