How finance companies digitally empower customers

Banking and financial services – everyone needs them – but it’s only recently that people are learning to use them more effectively to meet their specific needs.

Part of the reason for this is the increasing quality of financial information that’s available online – you don’t have to settle for whichever financial product is thrust in your direction whether its a loan, credit card or a debt solutions such as a Trust Deed, you’ve got a world of comparisons and options literally at your fingertips.

But what are banks and financial organisations doing to keep up? If you can understand how you’re empowered as a customer, you’ll be able to decide if you’re getting the best experience possible…

Why web and app design matters

The average person picks their phone up about 75-100 times in a day. Despite the fact we still refer to our do-everything pocket computers as ‘phones’ – we actually spend 90% of the time we’re holding them using apps.

Of the millions of apps available to us, we tend to prioritise around 5 – with app checking becoming more of a habit or compulsion than a necessity. The reason we’re able to open them and navigate our newsfeeds and timelines so quickly is because of the way they’re designed.

Time spent on an app means money for the business behind it, whether that’s through additional features that’ll make your life and habits more pleasurable – or advertising that’s put in front of you, the more time you’re ‘in the shop’ – the more likely you are to spend.

Keeping you there is ALL about good design and compelling content. Not convinced – here’s how the best financial websites are keeping you as a customer:

Brand is key

People like environments in which they’re comfortable. Your favourite restaurant, room in the house or retail outlet are all examples of this – but it’s also true of your digital life.

The chances are you know your way around your email inbox – or you favourite social media app. Access them through your browser and you’ll see all those familiar and comforting logos, buttons and layouts – just as you will if you pick up your tablet, laptop or any other device you can access it on.

Financial institutions know that if they can do the same you’ll feel at home using their services – so expect to see consistency of branding, user interfaces and layouts no matter where you log on. The more you use their services the more comfortable you become with handling your finances – handing control over to you – no matter how you’re digitally interacting.

Educate and inform

Since the financial crash of 2008, financial organisations have been viewed with some suspicion by consumers – and that’s a view that is unlikely to end up with signatures on dotted lines for money products and services.

The only way around this is to win trust back – and banks have been doing so by producing exceptional content that’s designed to educate and inform existing and potential customers. This can’t just be any old content though – it has to offer significant value – and one of the best ways of doing this is explaining how people can stay in control of their finances.

The last 5 years have seen increasing numbers of online and print articles and designed to help people make the very best decisions around what’s best for them financially – whether that’s saving, investing, managing their current account or finding appropriate credit products, banks are keen to been viewed as less predatory – and more like a trusted financial partner.

Customer first

Although we’ve covered the benefits of banks offering good advice and support via well produced and marketed content – talk is cheap unless the same organisations are willing to back those seemingly good intentions up with products that area created with customers (and not just profits) in mind.

Doing this requires so deep analysis of customer’s online behaviour. What are people reading about? What are people researching? How does their profile fit with what other people are looking for and using?

Data is very powerful – and has traditionally been used to find ways of maximising profits for organisations. Now, financial bodies are using this data to create products that answer the demand of their customers. A big benefit for banks who can respond quickly in a world of comparisons and quick alternatives – and a huge benefit for customers, who get what they want – instead of what they’re given.

Security

Crime is changing – 20 years ago the bank robber’s chosen weapon was a gun, now – it’s a laptop.

One false move, click or inputting of details online can lead to significant losses – and it makes people nervous. Nerves do not lead to empowerment and a deeper understanding of what can be done with your finances online – so banks need to reassure.

That reassurance doesn’t come in the overt ways you might think. Consistency is one of the biggest factors in letting you know you’re safe. A financial organisation’s website has to be perfectly branded with those brand guidelines applied flawlessly across all communication – digitally, on paper, at physical branches and even verbally… inconsistencies call brand authenticity into doubt.

While security is important – a balance needs to be struck to make sure it is not prohibitive to a customer who’s legitimately trying to use their service. Steps forward in mobile technology have made this increasingly feasible – with fingerprint log-ins and other similar functions being adopted to make sure your account is safe.

Diverse customer service

In days gone by, banks would open from 9am until 5pm – so if you worked the same hours you would struggle to use their service. Even in the days of telephone banking you often had to sneak a phone call during a lunch break if you wanted to speak to someone.

Not being able to interact with your bank is the exact problem banks now try to solve through technology – meaning websites will try to solve you problems with extensive FAQ sections, email support, instant messaging services, call back request form and much more. Allowing access to the support that surrounds your account is an absolutely vital step in empowering your account holders.…