Field services conjures up images of support personnel showing up at offices, running diagnostics and fixing equipment, but the reality is that recent advances in smartphone camera technology, the influence of the “app economy” and the impact of collaboration tools like Lua and Slack have transformed field services into an area of high growth and innovation.

Activities from home appraisals to submitting insurance claims now leverage mobile collaboration platforms to make the process faster, more accurate and less frustrating for customers. Making it easier for consumers to do business in financial services and transaction-related activities such as appraisals and claims is a top priority for both bank CEOs and CIOS.

Why? According to Time Inc., research by Viacom found that 71 percent of millennials prefer a root canal over a visit to a bank branch, with banks ranking as four of the least loved brands in America. Furthermore, CNN Money in 2015 reported that the third most-cited area of customer frustration in 2015 was credit card services.

Embracing Mobility in Field Services

Rather than adding more branches or more agents to their call centers, forward-thinking CIOs and other decision makers should be thinking about mobile financial services and embracing ways to use mobile tools to directly engage with consumers in the field.

For example, Android apps such as Esurance’s mobile app allow consumers to submit claim information right through their mobile devices if they are in an accident. Using a device like a Samsung Galaxy S7, consumers can now avoid the previously time-consuming steps of calling into a call center to begin a claim and scheduling an appointment to have the damage reviewed.

Traditional field services operations involving equipment repair and support also exist in banking and insurance. Since financial services is primarily a service industry, field services often refers to B2B support, such as between financial self-service company Diebold’s service team that works closely with leading financial services companies.

Like many banks, despite a push to deliver mobile solutions to consumers, field services relies upon more basic technologies, such as ServiceNow or Freshdesk, for IT service and customer support ticketing management. Traditionally, these functions have not been delivered using mobile apps, and this remains the case for now. However, the transformation of texting and messaging from a purely consumer-based activity to an enterprise activity is a key trend CIOs should follow.

Mobile Collaboration in Appraisals

Just as Lua and Slack have made it possible to embed videos and provide an alternative to email, which has limits in terms of its ability to connect teams and engage consumers, financial services is being transformed by mobile collaboration for transaction-related activities such as appraisals. In fact, in December 2015, Appraisal Buzz published a top-10 list of mobile apps, including Total Mobile (a cloud-based solution for the appraisal process), Voxer (to relay information notes to your office) and SuperNote (to record voice conversations that individuals want to archive and associate with a particular transaction).

Now all an appraiser really needs to be successful in the field is a Samsung Galaxy smartphone and the right set of apps to collaborate with colleagues and stay in touch with key stakeholders and clients. Collaboration isn’t new, but mobile and video-based collaboration is a recent phenomenon, and one that CIOs will want to stay on top of over the next few years.

Benedict Evans from Andreessen Horowitz summed up in a tweet: “Old: all software expands until it includes messaging New: all messaging expands until it includes software,” which rings true in terms of the growth of mobile messaging and collaboration tools for those working in the field in financial services.

Want to learn more about the mobile future of finance? Click here to find out more about what changes lie ahead and how your business can adapt.

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Michael Halloran

Michael Halloran publishes the FinTech Blog on innovation and trends in financial services firms and startups, and is head of partnerships and business development at Previously, he was with Morgan Stanley, where he managed partner relationships in the wealth management division. He began his career as a consultant at Gemini Consulting, where he helped launch the U.K.'s first online bank. He was also a managing director at Scient (now Razorfish). Follow him on Twitter: @fintechblogger

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