Use Social Media To Remind Card Customers of Travel Protection Services You Provide – by Ken Kraetzer

With the Olympics in full swing, thousands of participants, organizers, and fans, will be traveling to and from Sochi for the events and festivities. For so many it is also the start of the busy spring travel and convention seasons.

Before leaving on a trip, it is always a good time for travelers to check the protection services their card accounts provide that could be of big help while on the road.  Benefits that are commonly provided to bank card and retail transaction accounts include Emergency Travel Assistance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Protection, and a variety of premium services that can make a long trip go more enjoyably.

One time while traveling in Barcelona, I was getting out of a cab, going in the front door of a hotel, and made the mistake of putting my briefcase down on the sidewalk for an instant.  I looked back and it was gone with my airline ticket, passport, traveleImagers checks and a backup credit card.  After realizing what had happened and gaining composure, I called the Emergency Assistance Service provided by one of my card accounts, and a Dallas based service representative provided a comforting ear.  The representative went through with me what was lost and how to replace the items one by one.  The theft happened on a Saturday night so the service told me to go to the American consulate first thing Monday morning and start the process for an emergency same day passport issuance.  After that I was directed to go to a travel agent office to have my airline tickets reissued, and visit a major bank office which could reissue traveler checks.  Ok this was still when paper tickets were like currency but think of what happens if you lose your smart-phone, wallet, or purse while traveling.

Visiting the consulate turned out to be a memorable experience seeing how hard the foreign service staff worked on solving the problems of American travelers from students to business types.  After reaching the consulate when it opened in the morning, I filled out the paper work and was briefly interviewed by a foreign service officer who described the types of challenges they handle for travelers.  I was told to come by after lunch when the replacement passport should be available.  I must have checked out ok when they contacted DC because my replacement passport was ready, and with my reissued airline ticket, and cash from traveler checks was able to take a flight that evening to be on-time for the start of a conference in Belgium.

Of course email and social media offer terrific low cost ways to remind customers of the benefits you provide them.  On Facebook, your brand’s page can describe the services you provide and how they help customers, perhaps a benefit comment of the day.  Facebook also supports small ads on the right column that can be targeted by interests and geography.  These same messages can be issued on your Twitter account. 

Good idea for trImageavelers to have the phone number for your bank and emergency assistance provider written down separately from your credit card, in your smart-phone directory at the least.  I try to have key phone numbers and email addresses on a piece of paper as an ultimate back-up.

Travel protection services may not be called upon that often but accountholders will value that these benefits are available when traveling because they are a customer of your brand.

Planning to attend conferences in 2014? CBSI’s 2014 Conference Planner – by Stephanie Corritori

If you and your organization want to network, expand your business or learn from some of the best experts in the industry, CBSI recommends the below events that may be of interest. We will continue to update this list as we become aware of any relevant additions. Be sure to sign up for the CBSI eNewsletter as we regularly update conference information each issue.

2014 Conference Schedule

January

Jan 21-24: The Future Call Center Summit Orlando, FL

Jan 29-30: Winter 2014 Mobile Payments ConferenceMiami Beach, FL

Jan 29-31: Social Media for Customer Care SummitSan Francisco, CA

February

Feb 2-5: ABA Insurance Risk Management Forum La Jolla, CA

Feb 4-6: Social Media Strategies Summit Las Vegas, NV

Feb 5-7: 2014 Payments Summit Salt Lake City, UT

Feb 16-19: ABA National Conference for Community Bankers Phoenix, AZ

March

Mar 3-5: Prepaid Expo: All Payments ExpoLas Vegas, NV

Mar 3-4: Bank Innovation 2014Seattle, WA

Mar 12-14: Retail BankingOrlando, FL

Mar 18-20: Next Generation Customer ExperienceSan Diego, CA

Mar 19-20: Analytics for Insurance USAChicago, IL

Mar 24-26:  National Collections & Operational Risk ConferenceMiami Beach, FL

April  

Apr 1-3: 2014 Benefit Selling Expo – Colorado Springs, CO

Apr 3-4: The Financial Brand Forum 2014Las Vegas, NV

Apr 9-10: 3rd Annual Community Bankers ConferenceDallas, TX

Apr 22-25: Card Forum and ExpoOrlando, Fl

May

May 1-2: The Growth ConferenceNew Orleans, LA

May 6-9: Contact Center Expo & Conference San Diego, CA

May 19-22: Think 14New Orleans, LA

June

Jun 2-4: Digital Banking SummitLos Angeles, CA

Jun 4-6: Emerge: The Forum on Consumer Financial Services Innovation Los Angeles, CA

Jun 9-13: Call Center WeekLas Vegas, NV

Jun 10-11: Bank Audit & Risk Committees Conference Chicago, IL

July 

 Jul 21-24: ISACA Social MediaBoston, MA

August

Aug 18-20: Customer Service Experience 2014 – New York, NY

September

Sep 8-11: Content Marketing World 2014Cleveland, OH

Sep 15-16: Customer Analytics in Financial ServicesNew York, NY

October

Oct 8-9: The Most Powerful Women in BankingNew York, NY

Oct 21-23: 21st Annual Financial Services Collections & Operational RiskChicago, IL

November

Nov 5-6: Bank Executive & Board Compensation ConferenceChicago, IL

Nov 19-21:  19th Annual Small Business Banking Conference Miami, FL

December

Dec 1: Financial Services Marketing & Innovation Symposium New York, NY

2013 Payment Guide to Holiday Shopping – by Jack Hojnar

Millions of people this year will turn to their mobile devices to make holiday purchases. In fact, for the 2013 Holiday Season, eMarketer predicts that mobile commerce will account for nearly 16%, or $41.68 billion, of the $262.30 billion that online shoppers are expected to spend this year in the United States alone.best-credit-cards-for-holiday-shopping-2013

Online and mobile shoppers are not the only increase expected for 2013. Of retailers surveyed by Baynote and The E-tailing Group, 30% of retailers began marketing their holiday offers before October 1st.

Here’s more reason retailers are pushing promotions NOW: this year, the Holiday Shopping Season, as defined from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, is actually shorter than in previous years – 26 total shopping days.

So where do we start?

While last year’s version of the CBSI Shopping Guide to the Holidays contained some great and still relevant tips (read HERE), this year’s writing includes more online aspects and tools that were either unavailable last year or too small to have much relevance.

Credit Card Benefits

Financial transaction companies (wordy way of writing “banks and other companies such as PayPal”) often provide additional products and services known as Benefits. These often complementary products appear on many cards and are designed to get you, the consumer, to use their financial device (e.g., credit card) instead of the others guy’s card.

During the Holiday Shopping Season, these benefits are particularly valuable should you purchase an item that breaks or if you price compare products or if you simply want to extend the warranty of something you believe needs better protection.

Some common shopping Benefits are:

  • Purchase Protection; buy something with your card, it’s protected from damage, loss or even theft.
  • Extended Protection: buy something, increase the manufacturer’s warranty just by using your card.
  • Price Protection: buy something and find a better price later, you’ll be refunded the difference.
  • Return Protection: buy something you don’t like and the retailer wont accept the return, get reimbursed; product return to administrator likely required.

Each financial institution provides different variations of the benefits listed above so you need to contact your bank and credit card company to determine what, if any, related benefits are available to you.

Credit Card Usage Tips – In Store

Not much has changed from last year as much of the same recommendations still exist so let’s get to them quickly.

  • Retail Store Card v. Bank Card: Several shoppers like the discounts, rewards and benefits associated with using a store card (e.g., Home Depot card) as opposed to using the rewards and benefits from a bank card that may be less specific. In fact, retailers encourage consumer use of store cards via several incentives such as coupons and more important, mobile transaction. By linking their store cards to a store-based mobile app you can use your smart phone to make purchases. (NOTE: Starbucks has been operating successfully within this model for the past two years).

What to do? That’s up to you. If you can keep track of multiple card types and multiple payments sources, then use what gets you the best deal. However, remember that store cards typically do NOT provide benefits that traditional bank cards provide.
BTW – try not to confuse co-branded bank cards with store cards as they are different and co-branded bank cards DO typically contain benefits.

  • Saving Receipts: A hot trend lately – via mobile apps at least – is to take a picture of your receipt and store that transaction in an app. American Express offers this service for cardholders. While this is an excellent way to store receipts and track expenses, it’s not necessarily the best way to use receipts for product returns. Retailers likely will not accept a photographed receipt as proof of purchase, so keeping paper receipts is still a better solution. As stated last year, save receipt in underwear drawers or other places you frequent so that you can always find your receipts. NOTE: Another GREAT service more retailers are starting to provide? Emailing receipts. Personally LOVE this concept for several reasons mainly this: if the store generates the electronic receipt the store should (NOTE: Should …) be able to generate the receipt if you accidentally delete the email.. Be aware that some retailers may use the emailed receipt to put you on a mailing list without your permission (they shouldn’t). If you find yourself on a mailing list in this manner, be sure to report the act to USDOJ (http://www.justice.gov/spam.htm).
  • Don’t Sign the Back of Your Card: Instead of writing your signature on the back of your card, write “ASK FOR ID” which should require the clerk to validate your card with your driver’s license or some other for of ID. While note 100% perfect, the process may deter someone who gets their hand on your plastic.

Credit Card Usage Tips – Online

Let’s jump to the tips …

  • Use One Card: Am a big fan of using ONE credit card (or payment tool) for ALL online purchase. In fact in our home we only use one card for all online purchases; this allows us to keep track and monitor any potentially fraudulent activity (we have been violated AND we have found the violators).
  • Use Trusted Sites: During the Holiday shopping season, you may find yourself motivated by a company with a fantastic bargain on a hard-to-find product you really want. Don’t be fooled by unsecured sites or too-good-to-be-true offers. Be alert and aware.
  • Look for HTTPS in the Web Address: HTTPS, in essence, indicates a secure web process and good companies will use this web process for transactions. Look for it when you buy online.
  • Consider PayPal and V.me by Visa: These are two distinct but related sources for secure transactions.

Mobile Wallets

Well, last year at this time I truly thought we would have more to discuss. As of this writing the mobile wallet space is still plodding along as retailer and consumer uptake has been slow. The concept is intriguing and many are trying to create the solution. Some options:

  • Walla.by: The company helps you decide which card would be best for your particular transaction based upon rewards (not benefits) associated with your card.
  • Google Wallet: Google’s mobile wallet system is worth an initial review
  • Lemon Wallet:  Allows you to store and use your credit cards for transactions
  • Apple Passbook: While not a true mobile wallet, some retailers allow for transactions
  • Square Wallet: Similar to Lemon with a few other perks

Shopping Apps

An almost overwhelming number of apps exist to support the mobile shopping experience. So, to make this easy for me and perhaps a bit more work for you I’m going to list of bunch of apps that I have used and reviewed and experienced with success.

The list:

  • Gift Plan
  • Thred Up
  • Retail Me Not Coupons
  • Hukkster
  • Gilt
  • Rue La La
  • Groupon
  • Amazon Price Check
  • Red Laser
  • Google Offers
  • Poshmark
  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • Etsy
  • Living Social
  • Price Grabber
  • Smoopa
  • Shopkick

Are You Ready for the Rush? 25 Tips to Contact Center Zen this Holiday Season – by Jack Hojnar

In just 11 weeks, millions of shoppers will flock to malls, online stores and their mobile phones to find that special item for that special someone. It will be Black Friday and on the days following, some of those same people will need to contact their retailer for any number of reasons: changing an order, returning an order, seeking a price match, checking the status of an order and so on.HolidayImage1

An entire retail season – representing the most important financial gains of the year – can be won or lost in the hands of the Customer Service Unit.

Consider this: hiring the average Contact Center employee can take 1-2 weeks. Add an additional 3-10 days for training and 11 weeks prior to the busiest time of the year is suddenly 7 weeks – if you started the hiring process TODAY.

What’s potentially more alarming is that a Google Study in 2012 stated that 54% of consumers said they planned to start shopping BEFORE Black Friday.

So is your company prepared? It can be by following the 25 Steps below:

Getting Ready …

  1. Examine the Data: By reviewing historical data, past volumes, capacity needs and other pertinent forms of information now, you can plot the trends of increased traffic and better prepare training materials, staffing needs, systems requirements and more.
  2. Meet with the Marketing Team: The more you know, the better prepared you will be to manage all customer inquiries. A marketing promotion can fall flat if the Contact Center Representative knows.
  3. Know Your Media: Do you have all the tools in place to properly handle any types of customer inquiries? No longer are customers phone-only. A solid review of all access points, from IVRs to email is critical.
  4. Test Your Reporting: If possible create mock campaigns to test all reporting functions. No matter how much you plan and forecast, some event will occur that derails your best laid plans. These test reports may give you insight into fixing issues quickly.
  5. Start Staffing Procedures NOW: Regardless of the volume needs you may have, now is the time to begin your search for Contact Center Representative candidates. Given how long the hiring process can be, give yourself adequate time to find potential employees that can help carry the brand of your company and products. Hiring someone to simply answer a call will eventually hurt your brand.
  6. Review and Modify Training Materials: Often this topic is overlooked because many Contact Center Managers simply repeat the processes from last year. Updating training materials addresses any changes to program information and frequently asked questions and offers a fresh perspective.
  7. Modify Scripts for Phone, Email or Other Media: Rather than re-write new material, examine existing scripts and find opportunities to enhance the language, call flows, or even direction of the scripts in order to meet the changing dialogue of the marketplace.
  8. Train Early and Often: The more prepared the better. Also consider inviting Workforce Management or exceptional Representatives into training to provide real world advice and encouragement.
  9. Establish Escalation Procedures for Unhappy Customers: Regardless of the medium, some customers will require attention beyond what the frontline Customer Service Representative can provide. Establishing a clearly defined escalation process can help resolve issues quickly and effectively.
  10. Create Feedback Processes: Before any call volumes increase, have a means for Contact Center Representatives to communicate front-line activity upward to management. This could be weekly meetings or daily check-ins with idea and information exchanges.
  11. Engage the Techies: The last group you want AGAINST you is the Tech department. At some point during the increased call volume, you will need the IT Department to help you in some manner. Rather than run to them with an urgent request, invite them to your planning process.
  12. Have Social Media Skills Ready: Twitter comments. Yelp reviews. Blogs. All of these Social Media outlets are great places to monitor customer opinions. Today’s Contact Center needs to keep track of these conversations to ensure that customer needs are heard and reviewed. This may require purchasing a Social Media monitoring tool or even hiring a team that can provide insight directly to the Contact Center floor.
  13. Prepare Tracking and Recording Tools: Tracking and recording of calls serves two important functions: a) You can review the tone, detail and nature of a call for training purposes with the Customer Service Representative and b) You can have a record of activity to share with the customer if necessary.
  14. Disposition Events: Similar to tracking and recording calls (#13 above), establish a list of dispositions at the end of every interaction (call, email, etc.). You will want to know the reasons for Contact Center volume increases or changes to customer satisfaction scores.
  15. Be Ready for the Compliance Police: Not many managers enjoy the legal departments of companies. Have you heard the joke … Q: What do you call 25 lawyers buried up to their chins in cement? A: Not enough cement. But ignorance of legal or compliance items is no joke and can destroy a company. Be sure to have all your legal issues under control well before launch.
  16. Make a Plan: At the end of all the items listed above you should be able to write a clear and focused plan to manage any Contact Center activity from changes in contact volumes to issues affecting staffing. Without a plan, all the preparation work you’ve done is wasted.
    Your People …
  17. Treat Contact Center Reps with Respect: Contact Centers are tough businesses. Customers can be difficult and Representatives can often feel abused by them. The last thing a company needs to do is add fuel to this fire. Forrester Research indicates in a recent study that Customer Satisfaction Scores have been effectively flat since 200Image7. But brands like Lands’ End and Zappos continue to buck that trend by creating a culture of ownership for the Customer Service Representatives rather than creating a culture of time-to-answer statistics.
  18. Be Creative with Incentives: One of the best forms of rewarding Representative performance come as unannounced surprises. Rather than simply establish a stated goal – which are certainly important – surprise the entire floor by unexpectedly delivering rewards to individuals. These surprises will help keep Representatives in high spirits.
  19. Hire Strong Leaders: Nothing can demoralize a crew of Representatives like a poor manager. Managers on Contact Center Floors need to be able to balance all the activity of a Contact Center environment to ensure a great customer experience.
  20. Create a Comfortable Working Environment: While not suggesting a Feng Shui approach to the Contact Center space, you can create a comfortable workspace by not placing Representatives on top of one another. Encourage displays of photos and other personal items and provide comfortable chairs. Seriously.
    When Calling Begins …
  21. Measure. Adapt. Repeat: Just like the instructions on the shampoo bottle (Lather. Rinse. Repeat.), prepare to continually evaluate your Plan from Representative performance reviews, customer feedback scores, Contact Center statistics and any other host of resources you have available. And then be prepared to make the necImageessary changes and measure all over again.
  22. Continually Examine Your Own Point of View: The more often you can try to view the changes to call volume from the point of view of the customer, the client, the Customer Service Representative and even your boss, the better you will be able make program modifications that serve an entire host of people. This is not the time to wear blinders. An open, objective mind is vital.
  23. Be Active and Engaged with the Front Line: Regardless of your Title, visits to the Lion’s Den are educational and motivating. The Division VP that takes the time to sit next to a Customer Service Representative in a chat conversation with a customer is incredibly motivating. Likewise, a floor leader that occasionally takes a call demonstrates a willingness to share in the workload increases the bond of the entire team.
  24. Learn from Shared Experiences: There is something to be gained from every call a Representative handles – whether it be managing emotions, handling new problems or finding better ways to access information in the system. Representative break times don’t allow for ample time to share all the drama from their calls, so organize regular forums for the staff to share obstacles and successes with peers. It’s a great way to develop team cohesiveness, improve handling skills AND identify global issues that need to be addressed with your service, product, marketing or other teams.
  25. Enjoy the Ride: Contact Centers are tough enough without the surprises that poor planning invite.  The push through the Holiday Season, though incredibly intense, is also temporary. It will return to normal. So enjoy the ride as much as possible. If you follow the tips above – and plan early – the Holiday Season rush will seem like a walk in the park.

By: Jack Hojnar

Preparing Your Wallet for a Better Trip: Sound Travel Advice – by Jack Hojnar

Ah, Spring.travel-credit-card-copy

Warming temperatures. Longer Days. Sprouting foliage.

For some, such moments of the blossoming year afford the chance to get away, to vacate ourselves from the burdens of a long winter. As Tennyson so simply expressed:

In the Spring a fuller crimson comes upon the robin’s breast; In the Spring the wanton lapwing gets himself another crest;

In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.

No doubt much of Lord Tennyson’s sentiment lives on – Florida’s coast and the beaches of Corpus Christi, TX – certainly understand the powerful force the changing climate can create. But college Spring Breakers aren’t the only ones in need of livelier environments. The US Bureau of Transportation (USBT) cites the end of March as the beginning of an increasing travel season where the majority of people traveling are 34 years old and older. Hardly the set getting in line for $1 Drink Night.

With this being the beginning of the travel season (the peak, per the USBT, being Thanksgiving and Christmas), several publications from the New York Times to regional blogs pepper consumers with hotel recommendations, cites to see, apps to download and other forms of advice designed to make travel easier and enjoyable. Some suggestions even go so far as to promote the best credit card to use for travel. But in nearly all of those cases, the cards these bastions of social commentary to use are solely those cards with obvious travel perks such as reward miles and points. Unless you are a die-hard traveler who prefers to buy Girl Scout cookies using your credit card so that you can eek out that extra mile for that free ticket to San Francisco, then those travel-perk cards aren’t always the best for you.

For the common traveler, one who occasionally gets away from the house or out of the office, those perks don’t mean much when the airline can’t find your luggage, you lose your passport, or even worse, your rental car is rear-ended on the way to the beach.

Fortunately, traveling with the proper credit card can make even the infrequent traveler feel like a frequent flier.  For more than 15 years, many credit card providers from popular banks to credit unions offer simple travel perks designed to make your travel easier, safer and more enjoyable. So when you begin to make travel plans, be sure to pay attention to the following recommendations:

1. Call Your Credit Card Company

Be sure when you travel to let your credit card company know that you will be away from home. This way, when you start making multiple charges in distant locations, your credit card company will know it’s likely you are making those purchases and not some thief.

2. Check the Fees Associated with Using Your Card While Traveling

Some credit card issuers charge fees for various events. Specifically issuer can charge more for cash advances and foreign transaction fees in faraway places. Know those fees to limit any end-of-month statement surprises.

3. Confirm the  Benefits Available  On Your Credit Card

Unlike travel perks such as reward points and miles for using your card, many card issuers provide complimentary travel benefits with your card.  Benefits such as Auto Rental Collision Damage Coverage, Lost Luggage, Trip Cancelation and others allow travelers who experience a form of loss – such as the airlines losing your luggage – to recoup part of all of that loss.

Other card issuers offer Concierge Services that can assist with booking flights, making hotel reservations or even purchasing tickets to events such as concerts and plays. Be sure to check with your card provider to determine the specific Travel Benefits you may have on your cards.

4. Save Your Credit Card Receipts and Any Other Transaction Information

Should you ever have to file a claim with your credit card company for some form of loss – cancelled trip, lost luggage, etc. – your receipts will make the claim process much easier and faster.

5. Limit the Number of Cards You Use

If possible, use only one credit card while on your trip. Even if you were to take only one card and unfortunately lose that card while traveling, many card providers offer emergency card replacement, allowing you to be back in full plastic-spending glory within 24 hours.

6. Store Your Bank’s Phone Numbers as a Contact in Your Phone

Many people get leery of this advice but remember that – for most banks- no one can authorize transaction information on your cards without proper and stringent verification. By storing bank contact information on your phone, you can always contact your bank should your wallet or cards become stolen.

Perhaps Tennyson would write today, “In the Spring a livelier iris changes on the burnish’d dove; In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of selecting the best credit card for his vacations” .

By: Jack Hojnar

CFPB 101: THE BEGINNINGS OF A NOT-SO-SIMPLE GOVERNMENT AGENCY – by Gihan Shahidy

For more than a year, the recently created CFPB made headlines for its aggressive moves in monitoring and managing the business activities and marketing practices of giants in the financial industry. Fines for apparent deceptive marketing practices levied against powerhouse credit card companies Capital One, Discover and American Express totaled more than $500 million, for example.magnifyingglass

The agency even expanded its reach and impact through recent modification to the Automated Teller Machine Disclosure requirements (http://www.consumerfinance.gov/regulations/).

So what exactly is the CFPB?

Created out of several needs – need to protect consumers and the need to avoid another financial meltdown, for example – the CFPB supported its mission to “…help[ing] consumer finance markets work by making rules more effective, by consistently and fairly enforcing those rules, and by empowering consumers to take more control over their economic lives.”

For decades consumers have expressed injustice in the financial marketplace even before the financial crisis of 2007 and recession that followed. Complaints have remained relatively consistent in nature.

Consumers argued they were getting the run-around, not being provided accurate information, being hit with unexpected fees, and not being provided with alternative solutions. They expressed concern that they found themselves stuck in a relentless cycle to stay afloat, as struggling consumers often pay higher prices in the financial marketplace and experience deterioration in their credit standing as standards are tightened.

As such, the CFPB initiated efforts primarily around the monitoring and regulating of the mortgage market – the single largest consumer financial market in the United States – with potentially profound effects on consumers. The bureau accepted and published consumer complaints, examined the industry’s procedures, and passed numerous rules around servicing, including disclosures, treatment and protections for homeowners facing foreclosure, risky features, and misrepresentation.

Soon, the CFPB expanded its reach and began examining the private student loan industry, particularly regarding aggressive marketing, risky underwriting, unclear terms & conditions, lack of clear or responsive answers, and minimal options to refinance. As with its efforts in the mortgage industry, the bureau’s methodologies remained unchanged in its information gathering, evaluation, and course of action: Complaints were collected, evaluated and reported, and procedures for examining student lenders were developed. Recently, the CFPB launched an inquiry into the impact of financial products marketed to students through universities in an effort to determine whether these marketing strategies are in the best interest of students.

The CFPB also addressed debt relief, collection practices and consumer reporting, from supervision of the larger consumer debt collectors to the underscoring of consumer reporting agencies’ obligation to provide a streamlined process for free annual consumer reports. Again, following its established methodology, the CFPB passed new rules, such as unlawful charging of advance fees for debt-settlement services.

Within the credit card market the CFPB is currently seeking public comment on how the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (CARD Act) has impacted consumers and the behavior of the industry. The Bureau is reviewing such items as terms of credit card agreements and issuer practices, protections against unfair or deceptive acts, changes in the cost and availability of credit, and use of risk-based pricing. If past is prologue, the recent CFPB examination into the credit card industry will likely produce a publicly available report on the state of the consumer credit card market, which will be utilized to help form future policy decisions.

Simply stated, during its inaugural year the CFPB has consistently followed a common theme:

–          Requirement of corporate transparency

–          Creating a consistent methodology for addressing issues that consumers face

–          Adopting rules to improve consumers’ economic state

Looking forward into 2013, analysts expect increased supervision, additional enforcement actions, continued focus on third party providers and a myriad of new rules.

Financial institutions must brace for another long year ahead with the CFPB. Given the consistent approaches by the CFPB, those within the target sites of the bureau should at least know what to expect.

By: Gihan Shahidy

Conference Review: Mobile First Look 2013, NY – by Ken Kraetzer

The arrival of mobile marketing as a major driver of consumer activity was evident at Mobile Marketer’s January 17th conference in New York City entitled “Mobile First Look 2013” hosted by Mickey Alam Khan.

Some Highlights from the Conference:

Mobile / Retail Intersection
Johnna Marcus of Sephora, a women’s cosmetics company with 1,300 stores worldwide, discussed the phenomenon of customers using mobile extensively at various stages of the buying process in depth.  In speaking of the mobile and retail intersection phenomenon, she described the ways customers use a combination of mobile, tablets and desktops to research and complete purchases as a “Butterfly Trail” to research product information while in-store.  She also pointed out that Cyber Monday is largely irrelevant as customers are researching and shopping on-line constantly, “until they sit down to eat” on Thanksgiving Day.  

Customer Engagement
Several speakers discussed the value of engaging customers wherever they are through mobile. For example, Scott Cottick of Nissan described the product launches his company is able to conduct on-line and the involvement campaigns that can be run on “Second Screens” while customers are watching broadcast events such as an auto race on a big screens. Pointedly, he described the challenge of maintaining the quality of presentation across a variety of screens sizes and resolutions.  

Similarly, two well-known beverage marketers spoke of the opportunity mobile provides to engage customers and drive traffic to retail partners.  Tom Daly of Coca-Cola advised to “think across the mobile opportunities across the entire business” while admitting it can be a struggle to “crack the code on mobile apps” that generate prolonged activity.  Steve Mura of Miller / Coors described how their target market of 21-34 year old males now use smart phones as a “social planning tool.” Their percentage of website activity coming from mobile is now up to 27% and they found that 75% of the usage is coming from Android devices.  Miller / Coors is “leveraging Twitter and FourSquare” to drive customers to retail partners and keep them “in community afterwards.”

Creating Convenience
Lizzy Klein of Seamless, which serves two million customers in 13 metro areas, addressed the need to provide convenience to customers via mobile as a way to select meal delivery. In three years, orders coming from mobile grew from near zero to 40% totaling 4.5 million orders in 2012.  “Taking orders on-line is more accurate,” she noted when and continued that the consumer convenience of mobile ordering “provides better security for the account number billed as well.”

Building Relevance for Customers
“Always accessible, always on, always informative” stated Richard Char of Citibank as he described the value of mobile marketing to bank customers. He spoke of the value of Life-Event marketing, offering services to customers at the time they are changing habits such as when moving or getting married.

More to this point, Jonathan Stephen of Jet Blue supported the need to be personal and relevant through mobile. Mobile helps the airline “interact with customers when they are not on the plane” he said.  JetBlue expects that by 2015 “Over 50% of self boarding and bag drops will be done over mobile.” Stephen added that marketers must know what equipment customers are using so that the content they send works over a “multitude of devices, and is accessible, and consumable.”