Truist's mobile banking app, U by BB&T, took the top spot in customer satisfaction in J.D. Power's 2020 U.S. Banking Mobile App Satisfaction Study, which was released Wednesday.
U by BB&T, which became Truist's mobile banking app after the $28 billion merger of BB&T and SunTrust last year, was evaluated on overall satisfaction based on four factors: navigation, visual appeal, speed and information/content.
The award comes as Truist, now the sixth-largest bank in the country, is in the midst of creating a new combined BB&T-SunTrust mobile banking app, which Dontá Wilson, Truist's chief digital and client experience officer, said will feature the best of both U by BB&T and SunTrust’s app.
"We're transforming and looking at what neither had to be ready to serve the market in a more robust fashion, particularly coming out of COVID-19," Wilson told Banking Dive in an interview. "That put an extra ante on accelerating the pace and need of what the clients want, not only just the retail segment but in the small-business segment."
The bank is running both heritage apps while it builds a new Truist mobile banking product, Wilson said. The bank did not share an estimated timeline for the new app's launch.
While banks have been investing in digital banking for years, the coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the value of mobile banking products, as lockdowns have forced many customers to turn to digital channels for their banking tasks. And mobile banking apps have seen a recent surge in use as a result.
New mobile banking registrations jumped 200% in early April, according to a study by Fidelity National Information Services, which works with 50 of the world's largest banks. Mobile banking traffic also rose 85% during the same period.
"Digital represented a meaningful percentage of our total account production in April," Wilson said. "Fifty percent of our total account production came from digital, and that's a 35% increase year-over-year from last year, and digital transactions are up 6% year-to-date."
Mobile check deposits were also up 32% year-over-year, Mike Shade, Truist director of digital banking, told Banking Dive.
Shade said he thinks the bank's surge in digital usage over the past few months could represent "permanent shifts" in customer behavior.
With the uptick in mobile usage, Shade said the bank has increased its educational tools for customers unfamiliar with the technology.
"We've got some videos and some new simulators for clients that may have never used have our mobile app to get them engaged, because we think as soon as you experience one of these digital experiences, you realize that it’s easier than some of our alternative channels and you adopt that for life," he said.
Digital enhancements have been a focal point of the BB&T-SunTrust merger.
Ahead of the merger, the CEOs of both banks said the deal would allow the new Truist entity to invest in more technology to help it remain competitive.
The deal, which was completed in December, is the largest bank merger since the 2007-08 financial crisis.