The online banking itch
What is the overall image that a bank wants to portray online? Friendly and trustworthy? Accessible to all? Or just secure, solid, impenetrable. I ask the question because I am only ever left with the latter impression. that my experience when banking online has to be difficult, cumbersome, obtuse – in order to gain the impression that there are solid walls of steel, concrete, marble around me and that a security guard is monitoring my every move whilst I am ‘in the bank’.
A comfortable, efficient user experience is something the banking website designers simply don’t address. Are they told not to? Do they have Information Architects? Will it get better?
Let me explain a bit about some of the experiences I have had with a couple of different banks. Some of these just simply would not be stood for if they were any other product / brand?
- A customer number, my surname, a card reader, a passcode, a memorable word. All of them just to enter the site. Talk about ‘barriers to entry’. How is this attracting people to use their services?
- Immediately after logging in being displayed an add for a loan / extra credit etc. the equivalent of a pre-roll, extremely interruptive and very much like having a leaflet thrust in my face whilst waiting in the queue at the bank for the teller. Not nice.
- Viewing statements. Why are they only available for a month? Surely this data just exists anyway in the same database? Why can’t I see it? It just means that I will carry on requesting paper statements – costing the bank more money in print costs (which I really don’t want).
- Paying someone for the first time. After going through the extensive security previously mentioned, on paying someone I haven’t paid before I then have to use my card reader again to verify their account details to make the payment.
- Not being able to give an individual payment a reference number. Surely that’s just one extra data field. It doesn’t really help me or the recipient of the payment to identify the payment.
- Help. The help sections on banking websites are the most useless sections ever. They rarely answer your specific enquiry – meaning that you have to phone up the bank and use their telephone banking system (which deserves a separate blog post of it’s own). The telephone banking guys must know the kind of questions that come up time and time again. Maybe they’d get less enquiries if they disseminated some of the information online.
I guess the bigger question here is whether banks actually care. How many times have you changed your bank? It’s most likely that the same bank that gave you a free pencil case, ruler and eraser when you opened your junior savers bank account at the age of 14 is probably the same bank you have now.
So what would it take for someone to change their provider. Clearly the banks think that the online user experience isn’t going to have much of an influence over these types of decisions. Unless we start demanding an easier user experience and threatening to leave to find pastures new, I’m not sure anything will change. So Barclays, Nat West and RBS – you have been warned. I, for one, am getting a ’20 year itch’.