While many industries have the luxury of only catering to a specific demographic, banking is different – everyone needs to manage their finances. But, not everyone is managing them in the same way and different groups will have different levels of financial literacy with varying expectations of digital. That’s why financial institutions must provide a user experience that meets the needs and preferences of various communities.
Financial Institutions already do this, even in physical branches. For instance, Greater Alliance Federal Credit Union’s newest branch in Hackensack was designed specifically to reduce wait times for patrons, creating a sense of comfort and casualness by eliminating counters and offering community space for local organizations. That’s because banking is more than the products, it’s also about the experience. Your in-product user experiences are the digital equivalent to the branch lobby: they have to be clearly laid out and navigable – even on first sight – and they must be welcoming and attractive.
The experiences you offer also have to allow for customers with different needs to get the same results. They must also be accessible to people who might not otherwise use digital banking services. The pandemic forced many people into unfamiliar digital experiences causing new discomforts, a phenomenon observed by Peter Noteboom of McKinsey & Company at our virtual summit last year: “There were digitally unsavvy people who weren't using digital tools. We saw many of them being forced to make that switch and start interacting with their banks digitally.”
Focusing on improvements to digital experiences to account for the needs of all your customers and members should take center stage in your digital planning for 2022 and beyond. Let’s take a look at some key experiences your financial institution can focus on.
You already know who banks with your institution – their ages, incomes, and banking habits – but there’s so much more to customers than that. Leveraging data for a deeper dive into certain trends can reveal insights into the more personalized needs of your customers and members. Having access to a business intelligence platform like Narmi Analytics can show not only who is using your digital products, but gives insight into their behavior as well, which can inform how to create experiences that best fit those needs.
“Some customers use one, some customers use multiple products,” Niko Karvounis, head of content at Plaid, has found. “It depends on the portfolio of fintech products that you are building on your side that can benefit from these inputs and from the data.”
To organize user segments, their habits, and their needs, many companies create personas: archetypal customers to better understand the different wants and needs. For example, your personas might include a first-time account opener early in their career looking to build good financial habits and prepare for the future, or a small business owner who needs the capability to pay vendors from their phone.
“We have seen firsthand how delivering a product that is centered around someone's financial story and helping them understand their narrative is a very interesting dynamic for a consumer.”
Personas allow developers and designers to step into the shoes of the end-users, and can help inform not only products, but experience design. Narmi co-founder Chris Griffin recently spoke about the influence Narmi's user persona focused on rewriting the financial story has had on product development, “We have seen firsthand how delivering a product that is centered around someone's financial story and helping them understand their narrative is a very interesting dynamic for a consumer. It's something that they often don't have at their primary financial institution.”
However, there are experiences everyone, regardless of demographic, want when using digital banking platforms: clear information, quick and easy access to their accounts, and a feeling of security regarding their money and personal information. Even without access to data-driven insights, assessing your in-branch and digital experiences to improve on these basic needs can build lifelong trust.
Nearly 20% of people in the U.S. have some form of disability, and all of those people need to easily manage their money. But 18% of disabled people are unbanked, more than double the national average. You may not be able to account for every single issue, but it’s best practice to make your marketing website, mobile and web app, and digital products as broadly accessible as possible. Not having an accessible experience can lead to serious, even legal issues for banks and credit unions.
Just as brick-and-mortar branches have both steps and a ramp at entrances for multiple ways of access, so too must digital experiences accommodate for people with different accessibility needs. Most computers and phones have accessibility options such as voice-over text readers or adjusting for colors that may cause eye strain, but you can assist by choosing layouts, colors, and fonts that are clear and easy to understand. Even small improvements like including alt-text for images can greatly assist those with visual impairments.
Other lesser obvious experience improvements can have a big impact on someone’s ability to manage their finances with confidence. For example, text that’s written at a high reading level with lengthy and jargon-dense sentences is challenging to understand and can exclude people with average reading comprehension. Cluttered, frenetic, or confusing site layout can be stress-inducing or overwhelming.
Things change, and there’s nowhere that’s more true than in digital services. As devices, technology, and interfacing continue to evolve, your product and experience design will have to as well. User experience is never a one-and-done project, and staying relevant and useful for the long-term means constantly improving.
How can you stay on top of what people want? It’s simple: ask! Your customers are the best people to provide feedback on how to continually improve, where there might be problems and pain points, and what they want from their banking experience.
Good experience design can mean the difference between becoming the primary financial institution or forcing people to look for alternatives. After all, managing funds can be stressful enough for many people, so creating an intuitive and secure-feeling experience is key.