PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey told us what we’ve known for a few years: There’s a shift going on in consumer technology behavior. In effect, banks feel pressure to constantly add new feature functionality to their digital banking channels—but often fail to prioritize user experience (UX). The benefits of new technology fall by the wayside if packaged poorly; that is, if these users have difficulty adopting new features, there’s no benefit of bringing them to market. None.
Delivering an outstanding UX means we must consider the user through every step of the process. Banks must work with their partners to develop and design digital banking products that focus—deeply—on not just their customers’ financial needs and challenges, but also their existing behaviors and habits. Only then can banks effectively orchestrate the overall customer journey.
To put this in context, consider the results of a new BAI Banking Outlook report, “Growth In Banking.” In terms of UX, the top priority listed for customers was “delivering tools and options to customize my own solutions, from products to digital experiences.” Not far behind: “enhancing the mobile channel experience.”
Responsive design no longer applies
Many banks turn to responsive design, believing it’s the fastest, most cost-effective way to deliver a robust experience on mobile, tablet and desktop without changing the content itself. But responsive design has serious limitations in delivering the experience today’s bank customers want. In fact, one-size-fits-all design can actually compromise the UX.
Cramming more features and functionality onto a smaller screen can make a site harder to navigate. Nor does it consider how each end user will really use them. While this allows for fully featured mobile applications, they’re not truly optimal on all form factors. Why is this? Simply put, responsive design pushes the same content to each user, regardless of device used.
Instead, banks should approach design based on how customers access the site—and what they want to achieve during their session. While users can still access all of the application’s functionality regardless of device, the design zeroes in on their typical use patterns.
So if responsive design is not the answer, how can banks deliver the UX today’s customers expect?
Find the right fit in your customer’s shoes
First and foremost, put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Great design hinges on how well you know your target user:
- Investigate common pain points.
- Gather and listen to customer feedback.
- Discover their thoughts, feelings and motivations related to their financial behaviors.
New features should extend and enhance existing behaviors rather than replace them. Banks can research their customer bases or purchase consumer reports published by large research companies. Social media feeds are also a good source of information, as today’s consumers freely share experiences with their financial services provider online. When you better understand your customers’ pain points, your financial institution will implement and design solutions that resonate.
Once banks gain a solid understanding of what customers need and want in a digital product or service, the next step is to design how customers will interact with it—and get their needs met. Keep the following considerations in mind to ensure an easy-to-use, satisfactory service:
- Avoid too many elements in the design. This can frustrate and confuse users. Make sure your solution is clear; use concise words and phrases with minimal text. This helps all users understand how the solution works, regardless of their knowledge level. Likewise, stick to a limited number of cohesive colors and shapes to create a consistent visual design. Avoid too many elements and leave enough white space to avoid overwhelming the user.
- Break down lengthy processes into several screens to maintain user attention. Online banking processes such as savings account openings require several actions from users but that doesn’t mean your institution should compromise UX. Instead of outlining the entire process on one screen, divide tasks into steps to maintain the customer’s attention. You can do this by breaking down processes with layers that fall behind primary pages; this also keeps workflow clear to users. Knowing where the user is in the process is always a big help.
- Keep usage patterns familiar and consistent. Users have habits and expectations for how they interact not only with online or mobile applications and websites (based on previous patterns) but also the manual behaviors the technology is designed to replace. Teaching new usage patterns will cause unnecessary frustration among your customers. Remember your customers’ existing cognitive patterns when you design digital services, as this will ensure intuitive engagement with the product or service.
Important: Iterate and improve
To further optimize UX, financial institutions must also quickly identify and resolve issues. They can accomplish this by using digital banking data to find a click-by-click workflow of an account holder’s interaction with the product. For example, a bank may recognize that a large customer segment has started checking account applications on their mobile devices but finished them in a branch. By analyzing digital banking data, the bank can identify this trend and investigate why it’s happening.
Putting it all together: (Finger) tapping customer needs
Today’s consumers can book a flight, send money to friends, have a meal delivered and more—all with a few finger taps. Knowing this, today’s banks must deliver a comparable UX to remain competitive. Customers now demand simplicity, control and ease of use in digital banking products. No matter how good the execution of a digital banking product is on the back-end, taking steps to improve the UX can make a product go from zero to hero in the eyes of the customer. Indeed: the best way to spell “execution” is to include “UX.”
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Abhishek Veeraghanta is a banking industry veteran and business development executive of digital initiatives at VSoft Corp.