What constitutes a first class digital experience for banking customers?

Endava has been helping a UK IT industry association with some thought leadership pieces recently, and I’ve been permitted to share my contribution before the report is published. We’ve contributed to two essays, and when they are released in early 2014, I’ll post a link on this site.

What constitutes a first class digital experience for banking customers?

Autocomplete text box on Bing
Autocomplete text box on Bing

In order to create a first class digital experience for customers, we should first look at the user experience, i.e. how the user interacts with a bank inside a digital channel.

Fundamentally, users expect the same level of quality for the design and functionality of banking systems as they receive on a social network. For examples, users expect functionality such as autocomplete – where a text box provides a number of options based on what the user has started to type.

When a user is looking for a transaction in their online or mobile banking app, the text box should help them find the item, rather than a non-functional text box waiting for the user to press the search button before helping.

Banks have a wealth of data on their customer’s accounts, so it’s a surprise that the levels of personalisation is so basic. Banks should upsell savings, overdraft or loans products based on individual’s account activity.

Banks should offer targeted promotions based on a customer’s purchasing history (“You visit <xyz> coffee shop twice a week, why don’t you try the new <pqr> coffee shops and receive a 50% discount?”) – this could be funded by the competitor brands. Or, the loyalty could be rewarded by the regular store.

Banks are good at adopting new technologies, less so on the user experience side. New technologies are often adopted as an alternative channel for the same functionality, rarely for innovative services which maximise new functionality offered by the new channel.

For instance, one high street retail bank which offers a smartphone app still provides a text messaging alert for low balances and suspected illegal transactions. Ideally the alerts should be part of their own smartphone app.

Historically, retail banking products have been built around branches. If a user wanted a new product from their bank, they had to physically go to the branch. Even the first ATMs were located at the branch site, so users still had to go to the bank. Web and mobile banking options rely on users going to the bank’s web & mobile addresses to access the systems.

However in the digital world, banks should consider moving to where the users are. Today’s users are found on social networks, so the banks should move into these environments.

The future

As a trend, financial services organisations are becoming “utilities” where customers visit third-party agencies for financial products (e.g. a loans, savings, credit cards, etc.), the cheapest one is displayed and the user completes the transaction.

This has already happened to most of the insurance industry. Users first flock to comparison sites and click-through to the insurance website once they’ve decided which policy to buy.

The most common time when a user sees their bank’s logo is when paying by card. As card transactions are replaced by mobile phone payments such as NFC, bank customers will have less awareness of their bank. This user experience will turn banks further towards commoditised utilities. Now is the time for banks to act.


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