USAA bank uses social media to deliver meaningful, profitable outcomes


Time to read 3 minutes. USAA is one of today’s best examples of social media and mobile device use in banking.  As part of my keynote speaking, I’m often illustrating how leaders like USAA are using utility to create meaningful outcomes.  In this case, time-stretched banking customers were demonstrating a willingness to use desktop scanners to make deposits.  So USAA bank decided to make what they’re already doing align with customers’ love-affair with mobile devices.  The result: meaningful customer outcomes and profits using social media and mobile applications.  Read on for all the details.

Run-of-the-mill banks are busy “humanizing” themselves with social media and mobile tools.  But exceptional financial organizations are qualitatively improving customers’ lives and businesses.  And in ways that create profits.

Key strategy:  Uber-relevant utilities

Today’s banks are challenged to become relevant to the everyday needs of customers — customers who’s needs evolve faster than ever before.  Leading institutions are responding with digital utilities.

In short form… the “big opportunity” is to answer skeptical, angry consumers with:

  • Utilities that foster trust, reliability
  • Services that leverage existing strengths
    (critical thinking, market/risk interpretation)
  • Contextually relevant information
    (not memorable, entertaining or persuasive ads)
  • Better customer service or self service

… using digital Web media (call it social media or mobile applications if you’d like).

Case in point:  USAA’s Deposit@Mobile

USAA’s value proposition to their customer is simple: Use your iPhone or Android phone to deposit checks from wherever you are.  Never visit a bank or ATM again to make your deposits.  This is just one of a few common tasks their new mobile application offers.  I’m illustrating it given it’s uniqueness — reaching far beyond bill pay and common banking services.  Here’s the process:

1. Download, install, register and open the application on your mobile device.
2. Enter the deposit amount, choose your account.
3. Take photos of your endorsed check.
4. Get confirmation of your secure deposit.

Total time to get the job (2-4 above) done:  Less than 2 minutes.  This useful application makes it easy to deposit checks while grabbing lunch or traveling.

How they did it

What’s the secret sauce?  USAA added a mobile aspect to their pre-existing value (to customers) — the banks raw functional utility.  Not very Web 2.0 sexy eh?  Well, maybe.  It lives on an iPhone after all!  My point: this is deadly effective and based on pre-existing value the bank has earned among customers.

USAA is leveraging what it already know customers want or “need to do” in their everyday lives — and then making it contextually relevant to customers’ momentary needs.

So how useful is USAA’s free app?  Mega-useful.  The handy mobile application has contextually meaningful features like an ATM Locator, a detailed auto accident checklist, a loan calculator that estimates car or mortgage payments and a car rental locator for the nearest Avis, Budget or Hertz.

There’s something for everyone based on where a customer is and what he/she is doing.

Wayne Peacock and his team aren’t “entering the conversation” or mapping its customers “social graphs” or creating buzz or word-of-mouth.  They’re filling a void — a need that customers have demonstrated demand for.

USAA aligned their corporate actions… their value… with customers’ needs — then digitized it.

The REAL promise of social / mobile applications for banks

USAA plans to unveil more useful tools within the application as customers demand them.  And they’ve created ways to “listen” to customers using digital devices too — allowing customers to prompt USAA.

This is the real promise of social media — being able to tap into latent demand and nurture it to fruition (in real time).  The demand could be a business lead or a new form of value that cements customer loyalty.

USAA realized and acted:  Time-stretched customers already demonstrated a willingness to use desktop scanners to make deposits.  They just needed to fulfill the need by making what they already do themselves align with customers’ love-affair with mobile devices.

No social media gurus, “engagement”, buzz or voodoo involved!


banking, financial services, mobile marketing, social marketing, social-media, web applications

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