“Juntos has shown us a different way of interacting with clients, of recognizing their needs and expectations, and answering them to build better relationships.”
The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth released a new report that highlights Juntos’ work in North Africa. The paper, “The Next Frontier in Financial Inclusion: Moving Beyond Access to Usage,” spotlights Juntos’ partnership with Vodafone to help build stronger digital relationships:
Many Middle Eastern and North African markets have mobile penetration rates of 100 percent. Logic says such accessibility would translate into payments usage, but it has not—partly due to lack of consumer trust.
To address this challenge, Mastercard partnered Juntos, a mobile messaging service devoted to building mutually beneficially relationships between financial service providers and their customers, and the region’s leading telecommunications provider, Vodafone, to develop a responsive consumer messaging and education service. The end goal would be to build long-term trusted digital relationships with consumers resulting in increased and recurring customer payments usage.
Consumers engaged with Juntos to explain their cash usage pain points, difficulties in their financial lives, and key savings goals (e.g. paying for a wedding or education). By engaging customers in dialogue via two-way SMS messaging framed around their specific financial needs, Juntos and ultimately Vodafone were able to improve consumer understanding of how to use payment products and enhance their trust.
The resulting increase in transaction volumes raised Vodafone revenues while empowering customers and deepening their digital relationship with the Vodafone brand. Putting in perspective that behavioral change takes time, the initial uptake was very high—96 percent of consumers stayed enrolled throughout the program. Furthermore, among active consumers, monthly transactions increased five to eight percent, mostly attributed to an increased number of peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions.
Check out this blog post, written by Mastercard Director of Product Operations Dan Salazar, to learn more. You can also access the full white paper here: https://newsroom.mastercard.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/The-Next-Frontier-in-Financial-Inclusion_Access-to-Usage-Final.pdf
Over the years, banks’ analytic capabilities have dramatically evolved. At first, analytics were descriptive, focused on answering the question “What happened?” Eventually, banks began to leverage predictive analytics to answer “What will happen?” Most recently, analytics have moved from predictive to prescriptive to answer the question “What should we do?” So, what lies ahead for financial institutions?
In a podcast interview with Worthix, former FICO CEO and Research Fellow Larry Rosenberger asserts that Behavioral Analytics are the new analytics frontier. He outlines four key pillars that make up Behavioral Analytics:
- Behavioral Economics – Understanding cognitive biases inherent in how people make decisions, and designing incentives accordingly
- Behavioral Psychology – Learning how people motivate themselves to create long-term, sustained habits
- Advanced Gamification – Leveraging human-centered design principles to build systems that reward sustained engagement
- Bilateral 1:1 Dialogue – Delivering customized, personal conversations to customers with minimal friction
Juntos, which was born from a project at the Stanford d.school, relies on many of the principles embedded in the first three pillars to deliver the fourth pillar. Extensive user research at the beginning of each project feeds into a human-centered design process to create conversation sequences that encourage behavior change.
For example, Juntos may design dialogue to learn why a customer is motivated to save, and then share savings reminders and tips related to that motivation. Or it may employ a strategy that identifies existing customer habits, and then builds on them to form the basis of new behavior (e.g., encouraging customers to make a deposit on their way to the grocery). According to Rosenberger, banks that can use new technology like Juntos to deliver frictionless experiences stand to win and retain relationships:
Focus groups, to this day, are expensive. If you can have a conversation using technology and ask questions to make better, appropriate offers… you can understand more about [your customers] so you can tune your communications, offers, and experiences to be more effective.
One big bank I spoke to couldn’t imagine how to manage these millions of bilateral conversations because their mindset was back in old technology. They didn’t understand what can be done today with smartphones and SMS’s… You can take advantage of fast, cheap and comfortable conversation vehicles to make this happen, and figure out what’s the next question to ask based on where the conversation has gone.
You can find the full podcast episode here!
At the end of October, Juntos hosted a range of partners and other industry leaders at our San Carlos Headquarters for our first Digital Engagement Summit. Over the course of two days, a diverse group discussed common challenges and best practices for building strong customer relationships around the world. The group brought a truly global perspective: attendees traveled from countries such as Zambia, South Africa, Colombia, and Jamaica to join the conversation.
It’s impossible to boil down all the rich insights and ideas from two days into one short blog post, but we’ll do our best! Here are a few themes that stuck out:
- Relationships, not just transactions, need to become digital – Mobile banking has obviously increased the ease and convenience of using formal financial services. Customer trust and loyalty, though, were left behind in the branch for many. As people navigate digital financial products, the institutions that serve them need to find a way to rebuild meaningful relationships. Touchpoints pushing promotions and transactional notifications alone are not enough.
- Put blinders on, and find the practical value in AI – There is tons of hype around AI, and for good reason. It has the potential to dramatically increase efficiency and inform better decisions. It can automate responses to FAQs and save costs. AI cannot, however, build relationships with people on its own. By augmenting AI techniques like machine learning with automation and human intelligence, financial institutions can take a wholistic approach to engaging its customers that feels personal and natural.
- Invest in customer journeys, not just moments – Trust takes time. It is built up in the accumulation of small moments over the course of months or years. Optimizing individual campaigns or messages is important, but pales in comparison to the value of having ongoing, warm, and empathetic conversations with your customers.
- Listen for the whispers before you hear shouts – If you sit back on your heels and wait for customers to make themselves heard, you probably won’t hear them until they’re shouting at you. Instead, be proactive and encourage feedback. Ask customers if their accounts are working for them. Offer important information, even if they don’t go out of their way to ask for it.
- Let your customer inform your design – It’s tempting to assume you understand your customers and can design products and communications for them better than anyone. Try not to get caught in that trap. Your customers know themselves better than you do, so let them inform your decisions. Constantly test and prototype new ideas with your customers, and force their behavior to guide design.
- Use mobile channels your customers are already comfortable in – Moving customers from a branch or agent into the mobile app is a big leap. To help them cross that chasm, communicate with them in mobile channels they’re already using and comfortable with. Conversations via SMS and WhatsApp, for example, can serve as great bridges between the physical and digital banking worlds.
The group visited the Stanford d.school to learn about human-centered design principles.
In a report authored by The Mastercard Foundation and BFA, Juntos is highlighted as a “Practical Superpower” for financial services providers (FSPs) in Africa. The report focuses on how African FSPs can partner with Fintechs to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) in pragmatic ways to better serve mass market customers:
AI is typically defined as the capability of a machine to imitate intelligent human behavior, a definition which tends to evoke strong visions for the future in the form of either fix-all solutions or evil robot overlords. Here we intentionally take a more pragmatic approach, skirting the hype in favor of focusing on augmentation — rather than imitation — of human expertise, ingenuity, craftsmanship and intelligence.
Juntos is recognized throughout the report as a valuable conversational interface that empowers African FSPs to build meaningful relationships with customers at scale. The report continues:
Juntos partners with FSPs and MNOs to drive behavioral change in its customers entirely through mobile chat conversations. Behavioral experiments are tied to specific business goals, such as increasing savings deposits, engagement or reduced call center inquiries. Juntos’ carefully structured SMS conversations are analyzed on a daily basis with regression analysis and ML models to extract insights into what to say to which customers, and when to drive the desired behavior change.
The exploration of chatbots is a perfect opportunity for financial providers to partner with fintech companies that have invested in developing chat algorithms in local languages and dialects, are optimizing the tone and flow of the conversation, and have the teams in place to continue to refine and iterate based on an institution’s specific use cases.
As the report describes, Juntos takes a pragmatic approach combining human intelligence and technology to help financial institutions build trusting customer relationships. Human-centered design and behavioral economics principles guide messaging strategy, automation enables conversations to be responsive at massive scale, and machine learning algorithms inform which customers should receive which content sequences. Taken together, these pillars make up a powerful platform. Here’s a helpful framework outlined by the report, where we’ve highlighted Juntos capabilities:
“Trust takes time, and sometimes it’s built in the small moments. Lots of the small moments then add up to the big moments.” – Melinda Gates
This quote should ring true for financial services providers. It’s easy to get caught up trying to perfect an individual touchpoint or one-off promotion, but that isolated approach obscures the big picture: building trust and long-term loyalty with customers.
Financial institutions are increasingly shifting their focus to improving customer journeys. Research shows that the accumulation of experiences that customers go through when they interact with your brand is far more important than any individual interaction. According to McKinsey & Company, successful projects that focus on improving customer journeys typically generate 5-10% revenue growth, as well as 15-25% cost reduction. On a larger scale, companies that provide exceptional experiences make more than 26% higher gross margins than their competitors.
Ultimately, Juntos exists to build trust by improving customer journeys. Our success is not based on any perfectly worded individual message. Instead, we build trust between customers and their financial institutions with long-term conversations. We help people set financial goals, educate them about account features, and create spaces for them to ask questions and provide feedback. Only after several months of this dialogue do we typically see meaningful behavior change.