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Citi relies on multiple mobile channels for customer engagement

Citigroup Inc.’s Citibank is placing mobile at the center of its customer engagement strategy, with cost-cutting and revenue-generation significant fringe benefits.

The financial services giant has applications for Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch, a mobile Web site that is optimized for smartphones and Citi text banking, which lets customers check their account balances, view recent activity and see credit card statements via SMS. In addition, Citi is integrating social media into its mobile platforms.

“We are focused on empowering consumers to manage their financial lives however they want, whenever they want, making the customer experience as optimal as possible,” said Tracey Weber, managing director of Internet and mobile consumer banking for North America at Citi, New York.

“To that end, in the mobile space in particular this year, we have made a definite effort to improve our mobile capabilities and options,” she said. “Our client applications for the iPhone and Android, our thin-client mobile Web site, as well as text banking are foundational customer experiences focused on engagement.

“There is still a lot of need to educate consumers about why to use mobile banking and how to use it, showing them examples of how to use it to reduce the intimidation factor that some customers might feel.”

To educate its customers about mobile banking, Citi has launched the Mobile Showcase, which the bank claims is the first comprehensive showcase of mobile banking services from any U.S. bank.

The Mobile Showcase is available via Citi’s mobile Web site.

“Our customers can access the Mobile Showcase via their smartphone’s browser,” Ms. Weber said. “It is encouraging engagement with the mobile banking capabilities in a way they can understand.

“It features visual instruction so that users can learn about mobile banking and get answers to their questions,” she said.

The @AskCiti program enables 24-hour customer service via Twitter. It is now the first “contact us” option Citi offers to mobile users.

In addition, Citi’s Mobile Twitter Mash-Up lets consumers view the @AskCiti feed and tweet for help directly from the bank’s mobile site.

“Our focus is on being accessible to consumers wherever they are, and in the mobile space we have a mash-up with Twitter in our mobile site, bringing together a lot of the things we are doing into a seamless experience for consumers,” Ms. Weber said.

“Mobile banking is growing because of the continued adoption of users as we have gotten our whole capability of options fleshed out—SMS, the mobile Web and apps,” she said. “Consumer behavior have fueled the growth of our mobile initiatives.

“There has been lot of discussion around the future of money and mobile payments, and it is hard to say how it will manifest itself in consumer-facing mobile banking applications, but it will definitely be a focus going forward.”

Citi wants to have all of its mobile bases covered, and that is why SMS, the mobile Web and downloadable applications have all been a priority.

When asked if Citi views mobile as a cost-cutter, revenue-generator or consumer-engagement tool, Ms. Weber said that it is not an either/or proposition.

“It can definitely be a tool for all of the above,” Ms. Weber said. “What gets us most excited is offering something that helps consumers and engages consumers.

“We are focused on making sure all of the various channels work effectively together,” she said.

Final Take
Citi Mobile