[this blog post was co-authored by Michael Chirokas]
A year ago, Forrester published a report that listed Eleven Mobile Features That More Banks Should Offer. Unsurprisingly, our ongoing research continues to uncover new mobile services that belong on banks’ road maps. Recently, we came across another feature that several startups offer but that we haven’t seen from banks — at least not yet.
We call this feature subscription management, and it creates value for customers by making their lives easier and, often, saving them money.
How it works: Today, people have lots of recurring subscriptions — everything from streaming music services like Pandora to monthly beauty packages like Birchbox — many of which customers don’t actually want anymore. But if a customer has forgotten about a subscription, not taken the time to cancel it, or never even realized she is being billed for it (online greeting cards are a surprisingly common example), she is paying for something she no longer needs. Subscription management functionality helps the customer quickly identify and stop unwanted subscription bills.
Who’s already offering this service: A gaggle of disruptors and startups have recognized a niche part of the banking ecosystem, one where they can create value for customers. Clarity Money, Trim, and Truebill are just three examples of services that detect a customer’s recurring subscriptions and lets her quickly cancel the ones she no longer needs.
For example, a Trim user connects her bank accounts to the service, which lets her review all her subscriptions on one page. For each, she can either select “Cancel subscription” (see screenshot below) or send a text or Facebook message that says simply “Cancel ___.” Trim will then email the biller — or, if necessary, call the biller — on the customer’s behalf. Likewise, Truebill aggregates subscriptions and asks customers to fill out a form with their account information if they want Truebill to cancel the subscription. If the customer wants to do it herself, Truebill also offers a video of instructions on how to cancel the subscription.
Why it’s worth the resources for your bank: This is not a new revenue play. Instead, subscription management warrants inclusion on your road map because it can drive engagement, stickiness, and loyalty among some of your most valuable customers: mobile bankers. Making subscription management more convenient for customers shows that you do what’s best for them, not just what’s best for your own bottom line. Forrester calls this customer advocacy, and it is a strong predictor of customers’ likelihood to both stay with a firm and put more money with that firm.
Subscription management will also help banks stave off disruption and disintermediation as an army of startups focus on specific parts of the traditional banking value chain. And subscription management functionality is a great testing ground for nascent AI software (we know you love to dabble in AI, and this is a space with solid pluses and relatively limited risk.)
If all of that’s not enough, bear in mind that Google has built this into Google Payments. Banks certainly shouldn’t chase after everything at which Google throws money, but when it’s an adjacent innovation and a service that creates value for customers, it warrants consideration.