Category Archives: General
What is your company name?
Please give a short bio of your company
Bierer Research Group (BRG) is a leader in qualitative consumer and market research. BRG provides full service qualitative research from initial consultation through design, field management, moderation, analysis and impactful reporting. BRG is distinguished by its ability to deliver ACTIONABLE RESEARCH TO DRIVE YOUR BUSINESS.
It is the source for Focus Groups (traditional and Online), Online Bulletin Boards and One-on-One Depth Interviews, Ideation Sessions and Ethnography and Observational Research.
Jeff Bierer is the founder of the Bierer Research Group. He began his research career forecasting market share for new consumer products being developed by Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson and other Fortune 100 packaged goods companies. He joined a small Boston research firm to build out its quantitative business while learning to lead focus groups from one of the top moderators in the country. He added training at the Burke Institute and RIVA to the practical experience he gained while moderating hundreds of focus groups for Gillette, Bank of Boston, John Hancock and other industry leaders.
Since then Jeff has managed Research Teams at Allmerica Financial and Bank of America responsible for new product development, customer satisfaction and retention, brand development, advertising research and more. Unique among his research peers, he has as often been the research client heading Marketing and Innovation teams as he’s been the research provider.
When was your company started?
What is your targeted market?
Payments (Card, Debit, Prepaid)
Customer Service and Retention
Who is your competition, and what do you do better?
Qualitative research should solve problems. Yet in far too many cases, the information doesn’t penetrate beyond the surface level. Consumers may say one thing but mean another. What are they revealing? What are they withholding? Are the answers there in black and white?
To maximize the full value of research, it takes a firm with the creativity, persistence and insight, to not only interpret the data, but to ‘drill down’ to the real story…and ultimately, to find solutions that will have lasting impact.
How many current customers do you have and what is your estimated yearly growth?
Financial Service Client List:
Bank of America
Charlotte Metro Credit Union
How do you see your company in the next 2-5 years?
Greater horizontal integration within client firms. My goal is to be THE trust resource for bringing the Voice of the Customer into business decision making.
How many employees and/or freelance contractors do you currently have?
BRG partners with focus group facilities and interviewers across the country. BRG manages all design, analysis and reporting internally.
How much does your company embrace risk?
We mitigate risk by bringing market intelligence into business decision making. Good research may be likened to an automobile’s headlights and windshield wipers. They mitigate risk by providing a clear picture of what you are confronting.
What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome as a company?
Many managers are constrained from choosing suppliers and consultants they prefer by corporate vendor management practices. Large banks often have policies that make it all but impossible for a new research vendor to break in.
What else is interesting about your story?
We spend time (at our expense) to understand our clients’ business issues to insure the research we conduct is finely focused on the critical business decisions needing to be made. The research we deliver is ACTIONABLE.
Do you have a blog, Facebook page, Twitter account, etc.?
Blogs are maintained on the company website: www.bierergroup.com.
Watching the whole Mitek/USAA patent battle from the sidelines has been very disheartening. Just to be clear, I am firmly against software patents. This whole fight over mobile RDC just strengthens that resolve. What surprised me was that Mitek and USAA were apparently developing mobile RDC technology in a partnership.
Now, if actual code was taken without permission by either party, then I think it should be a copyright violation. As far as stealing algorithms and features? That’s just hogwash. I haven’t seen either one of their products but I bet I could write an iPhone app and backend that would handle RDC transactions. Would the features and algorithms be similar? You betcha.
Here is a part of Mitek’s claim against USAA:
On October 20, 2008, after Mitek emailed a USAA manager to describe new Mobile Deposit algorithms and features, the USAA manager responded by stating that he had been following Mitek’s progress, congratulated Mitek on that progress, and added that “Certainly Mitek is on the leading edge of this space and hopefully you will see some great adoption.”
Did you notice that said “describe new Mobile Deposit algorithms and feature”? That doesn’t mean code, pseudo-code, or even a flowchart was sent.
That email could very well have said:
“We have an iPhone app that uses the phone’s camera to snap a picture of a check. When the image is taken, our software automatically sharpens the image, encrypts it, and sends it to our MySQL database. No image is saved on the the phone. We also send a text alert back to the phone as confirmation.”
Now, I don’t even know if that’s the actual process, but I just gave you an algorithm and some features.
Part of the patent process involves the patent being for something that is non-obvious. If I see a camera phone and my job involves me looking into new banking technology, then mobile RDC is pretty obvious to me.
Once the iPhone SDK was released, a lot of possibilities became available. Given the number of RDC apps listed in the iTunes App Store, it seems that others are taking advantage of those possibilities.
There is also another issue in all this. USAA has a very competent technical staff. I’m sure there were some bright people that saw Mitek’s demo and said “hey, why get a vendor when we can do this ourselves?” I bet this happens a lot.
When I worked for a bank, we talked about the possibility of writing our own SMS mobile banking software after seeing demos by a few vendors. We certainly had staff members with enough technical chops to pull it off. However, the decision makers decided to go with a vendor solution and didn’t really look into developing mobile banking in-house.
Innovation is very important in our industry and it happens because we build on the work of others. The fact that a number of vendors sell variations of the same type of software is proof of that. If you asked me how many core processing vendors there were five years ago, I would have told you five.
Today, I know of over thirty vendors, and I’m sure there are a lot more. That’s because people at these companies felt that they could each do core processing in a better way. Their innovations give you better choices. Software patents limit innovation, which limits your choices.
The irony to this Mitek/USAA fight? If one or both used code that they found online (open source, code examples) then their patent claims could be voided. Also, neither of the companies was the first to launch mobile RDC, it was tiny WV United FCU.
Image from TechRights.org
Have you ever tried to find a bank or credit union location by using the Location page on their website? Have you ever tried to use it on a mobile phone? Not exactly the best experience is it?
What I usually end up doing is a search on Google for locations in my area. This works pretty well if Google was able to search the bank or credit union’s website to find all the locations in the area. It would work even better if banks and credit unions submitted their branch locations to Google Places.
Here are the search results from “banks in charleston”
The first result is for an online Charleston directory. The second result is a bank website. The next six results are from Google Places. You’ll also notice that they are all different banks.
Quite a few people perform searches for businesses in this fashion. They don’t necessarily search by company name, but by business type in a particular geographical location.
In case it hasn’t sunk in yet, Google is placing greater emphasis on physical locations of businesses. Out of the top eight results of my search, only the second one was from organic search.
By not taking advantage of Google Places, community banks and credit unions are missing out on potential customers. There is a wealth of information that can submitted which will help you rise in search results.
Getting started is easy.
1. Sign up for a Google account
2. Find your branch location in Google Maps
3. Claim your business
Another reason for claiming and adding your locations is your customers may be submitting reviews about your bank or credit union. You may have noticed the red arrows in the first image pointing to customer reviews.
Regardless of whether you claim your location, customers can write reviews about you. If you claimed the location as the business owner, you’ll be able to respond to the reviews.
Your potential and regular customers may not follow you on Twitter or like you on Facebook, but chances are they do use Google. If they’re like me, they click on the Reviews link just to see what people are saying.
Those reviews could determine whether they open account or continue doing business with you. By taking advantage of the free tools that Google offers, you can provide a better, moderated experience for your customers.
Update – If you are listed as the business owner, Google will send you emails of Places traffic and who clicked on directions. Thanks @dmgerbino
In case you haven’t heard, mobile banking is now the bee’s knees. In fact, using the Quantipulation Method, we can see that offering mobile banking will increase your customer retention rate by 75%. But in case that statistic didn’t work for you, it is a fact that mobile usage is growing.
Here are some statistics from comScore’s quarterly report:
- 97.9 million people in the U.S. owned a smartphone (40% of all mobile subscribers)
- 74.3% used text messaging
- 47.6% downloaded apps
- 47.5% used the mobile browser
So how does this help you with picking your mobile strategy? This should give you a starting point. Instead of having heated arguments about whether you should have an iPhone app, Android app, or use HTML 5, find out how YOUR customers use their mobile phones.
Years ago when I led a mobile banking project, the first thing I did was create and send a survey to our customers. Once I had the results, I then formed a list of vendors that lined up well with how our customers were using their phones.
How do you know which mobile banking strategy to pick if you don’t even know anything about your customers’ mobile usage? It’s pretty pointless to develop an iPhone app with RDC capabilities when the majority of your customers only use text messaging and don’t have smart phones.
So to help you get started, here is a list of some questions you should ask:
Do you own a smart phone?
If so, which kind operating system does it use?
a. iOS (iPhone)
b. Android (Google)
d. Windows Mobile
How often do you use text messaging?
b. 1-5 times a month
c. 1-5 times a week
d. every day
Do you browse the internet on your phone?
Do you listen to music on your phone?
Have you downloaded an app for your phone?
Do you play games on your phone?
Do you use social networking on your phone? (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Foursquare, Gowalla)
Have you ever used your phone to find directions?
Have you ever purchased an item through your phone? (movie ticket, book, music, etc.)
Have you accessed our website on your phone?
Have you accessed online banking on your phone?
If we offered mobile banking, which features would you be interested in?
a. SMS/text alerts (daily balance, deposits, withdrawals)
b. Web mobile banking
c. Mobile banking app
d. Remote Deposit Capture
e. ATM locations
f. mobile payments
g. Person-to-person transfers
Once you’ve compiled the responses from this survey, you’ll be well on your way to setting a successful mobile strategy. So go on and get started.
Looking for a mobile banking vendor? Well check out FS Vendors to start your search.