Bank websites, just look at them. They are ugly. They look like someone puked products and offers all over your iPad. They require the user to scroll endlessly. They have complex navigation points and menus, menus, and more menus. To research, find and buy requires many clicks. All of this is friction.
Why can’t banks get it right? To be blunt, because banks are driven by operational needs, not customer needs. Walk into any financial institution and ask, who own operations and you will get a specific name and title. Ask who owns the customer experience and you will likely get blank stares. At these banks, the customer is seen as an object to be sold to, as either a profit center or an expense. The websites reflect this view of the customer.
How can my credit union transition to a user driven web experience?
1. Acknowledge that a consumer is a complex mixture of dreams, aspirations, fears, emotions,needs and wants not an object to be sold. Bring emotion and dreams to your website content.
2. Acknowledge the consumer really doesn’t want a car loan or a mortgage, they want a car or a home. Bring content that helps them with the complicated decision to make the purchase that will yield the loan.
3. Approach your website as a place for research. We know our members will research products on the web before they buy. Does your website make research easy?
4. Start your design with the questions your members are asking when they start their research. Then connect other related research questions for the user. For example, think like a member that is looking to buy a home. What questions are they asking? Do you have home loans? What are your rates? How do I apply? What do you require for me to qualify? How much can I qualify for? But also think about what questions need to be answered that the member may not know they need. How do I know which type of mortgage I should get? How do I choose the right home? How do I negotiate a purchase? If the member is a step-up or a downsize buyer they may want to know, how do I prep my existing home for a sale.
5. Answer these questions as stories, not as facts and bullet points. Make these stories real life experience stories from real people, not some theoretical study. Don’t be afraid to add feelings and emotion; these are what will connect people to your brand and ultimately to your products.
6. Ask for the business. This sounds really basic but it is also poorly executed on a lot of banking websites. Two common mistakes are: one, too many calls to action on a given page. When this happens they become irrelevant noise and clutter. Two, they are too obscure to be seen. Calls to action must respect the buying decision and it must be aligned with the decision process. There should be only one ask to buy on a page. Cross-selling comes as a post sale add-on, not as a diversion during the buying process.
7. Once they click on the “Apply Now” button, educate the member about the buying process. Most buying decisions, especially with loans, are infrequent. The member needs to know upfront what they will need to start the process, what the credit union will do with that information, how long they will invest in the application process, what they can expect from the credit union regarding lead times and followup contacts. Remember the eCommerce world is trained to expect immediate gratification so you must adjust consumer expectations with reality.
Your website is likely your most important communication channel. Un-suck your website and create a channel that facilitates the research and buying process. Also turn your website into a place where you and your members can tell their stories of success and failure; make it a safe haven for information and sharing, make it a place to showcase your expertise while creating peer-to-peer, consumer-to-consumer learning…
For help in developing your web strategy including a user experience audit, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.