Providing a good online customer experience is an important factor for the digital success of most modern businesses.

If users like your website experience, you've got a chance that they’ll become customers. If they don’t, they won’t. It’s that simple.

(88% of people say they would not return to a site after a bad experience and slow loading websites cost retailers £1.73bn in sales every single year (source) – maybe put this into a graphic)

For the Financial Services Industry (FSI), good online customer experience isn’t just important – it’s absolutely necessary.

Why Is Customer Experience So Important In Banking?

The financial and banking sector is particularly competitive. Not only are providers all vying for the same customer but the increase in emergence of agile FinTech start ups poses a threat to established financial institutions. Many of these new challengers were born in the digital age, operate completely digital first models, have no legacy systems to battle with and don't face the same process hurdles as established organisations fighting for digital transformation.

KPMG reported that €9.4bn was spent on global investments in FinTech companies in the second quarter of 2016.

But it’s not just competition which stands in the way. Users also have significantly increased expectations due to scepticism born from the 2009 banking crisis.

And, as banks are dealing with sensitive personal information, users expect online experiences that are fast, fluid and as secure as possible. Otherwise, they may air their grievances on social media or worse; switch to an alternative provider. 

How Do Banks Provide Better Customer Experience?

In 2015, Engage was commissioned to create a new market leading website for Irish banking provider permanent tsb. The aim was to create an online experience which would exceed the demanding expectations of their 1.1m customers and to create a solid foundation for future digital success.

This project has been one of our most successful at Engage; it has won and been nominated for a number of industry awards and has enabled permanent tsb to beat all initial KPIs and objectives. 

From this project and by continuing to work with permanent tsb, we have learned a lot about what outstanding customer experience means within the financial sector.

From our experience, here are 5 key ways that banks and financial services can improve their online user experience.

1. A Mobile First Approach

Mobile has truly become the epicentre of digital banking. In 2015, it officially became the number one way to bank in the UK and it is estimated that by 2020, customers will use their mobile to manage their current account 2.3 billion times – more than internet, branch and telephone banking put together.

The introduction of mobile banking apps have, of course, revolutionised how customers handle their finances; enabling them to check their accounts and transfer money on the go. But if a bank has an app, they can’t rely on this technology alone to satisfy online customer experience needs. Their website must also be accessible across devices to aid customers who want to take actions which cannot be completed using an app and to attract new potential customers.

For this reason, our design of the permanent tsb site was underpinned by a mobile-first approach as we sought to provide an online experience that is consistently accessible and seamless across all devices and browsers. Mobile users have the same access to content and functionality as desktop users.

2. Research Driven Design

When it comes to user experience, it’s all about the design, layout and content of the website; which must reflect the customers’ needs and language and must facilitate all key journeys.

And as no customer journey is ever linear, a lot of research is required in order to create a website which helps drive users to their desired destination.

This was a key consideration when we designed the permanent tsb website. We carried out extensive customer and stakeholder research to help us validate many design decisions, site structure, layout and labelling.

One of the clearest examples of how this research impacted the IA was seemingly minor observation that customers preferred the term ‘bank account’ to ‘current account’. We also significantly simplified language and information around savings, after learning that % terms can be confusing to younger users and presenting saving options and benefits based upon the most important life moments we save for - a new car, a new house or a special wedding day. We developed a range of infographics which enabled us to communicate complex financial data in a visual manner and with everyday language. Take a look here for some examples on financial planning for your wedding day

Although user research requires significant time and effort – it’s worth it. We ended up with a website that is truly customer centric and speaks to users in their language; reflected by an impressive 76% increase in primary interactions and 34% reduction in bounce rate.

3. Personalisation

No two banking customers are ever the same, so a one-size-fits-all communications approach simply won’t cut it.

In recent years, users have grown more and more accustomed to personalisation from all kinds of websites and providers; whether it’s Amazon’s homepage with recommended items based on your previous purchases, or a personalised email from a travel provider with weather updates and an itinerary for your upcoming trip.

Thanks to this, there is now increasing demand for personalisation from key service sectors such as banking.

Personalisation is an effective way for banks to cut through the noise and offer their customers a more relevant experience, with a one-to-one feel. It helps improve loyalty and gives a competitive advantage.

During the research phase of the project, we established a suite of buyer personas and using Episerver, we can provide them with behaviourally and contextually targeted content that encourages conversion. By understanding that a potential new customer arrived on our site from a mortgage related search and subsequently searched for a £350,000 first time buyers mortgage over 30 years - we can provide the most relevant content, advice and user experience possible for that customer, tailoring offers and the applicaition process as we go. 

And, as all results are presented in a simple dashboard, permanent tsb are always learning more about their customers to continuously optimise their offering, market more effectively and add value to their customer data.

4. Self service

According to research from Clarabridge in 2016, 36% of banking customers in the US have not visited a branch in the past month. As online evolution continues to shape our daily lives, we expect services to be digitized.

For that reason, online self-service should be a fundamental feature of any financial website.

For permanent tsb, we understood the importance of self-service to offer a new degree of simplicity and interaction which would boost engagement on site and help free internal resources.

By giving customers the ability to fill in mortgage, loan and credit card application forms online, independently from the comfort of their own homes and across desktop, mobile or tablet, we would help reduce low value inbound calls.

As an additional customer acquisition stream, new users to the site can research products and services and explore options before applying online to make a branch appointment.

The results of our project speak volumes about the power of self-service. Goal completions have dramatically increased. Current account leads have increased by 101%, loan appointments have increased by 49% and credit card leads have increased by 133%. Above all, mortgage account leads have increased by 2134%.

5. Internal efficiencies

Creating efficiencies for staff can also improve your user experience. This was another one of the main reasons why we chose Episerver CMS for the permanent tsb website. Its drag and drop functionality and intelligent marketing features allow permanent tsb staff to rapidly and effortlessly create campaign landing pages and react to their users’ evolving needs.

For example, when there is breaking news within the banking sector, they can be first to market with content, to leverage search traffic, engage in social channels to attract and convert more customers.

With capabilities for A/B testing, permanent tsb can trial various call-to-actions and instantly measure results and optimise performance. Episerver also integrates with social channels and permanent tsb’s CRM; this is used effectively when customers complete self-service actions online, such as making branch appointments. Not only does this streamline customer acquisition but it also improves customer service for existing users.

Want to know more about our work with permanent tsb?

Get the full story




Related blogs