April 21 2020

How Banks & Credit Unions Can Provide Better Service on Their Websites

bank credit union website customer serviceMany banks and credit unions differentiate themselves from the competition by offering superior service, which makes sense since it’s one of the biggest deciding factors for consumers when choosing a financial institution. In unprecedented times like now, online and over-the-phone customer service has never been more important. Even in a post COVID world, customer service will continue to be essential as companies and individuals adjust to a “new normal.” From account opening to daily money management and everything in between, banks and credit unions need to provide consumers with easy and efficient ways to handle their finances on their own, and get help from a human when they need it most.

Make it easy to apply online for accounts and loans

The harder it is for someone to do something, the more likely they won’t. Remove obstacles to open an account or apply for a loan by offering the ability to do both online. This eliminates a common barrier to entry online, increasing the chances that visitors will follow through. But it is not enough to simply offer online applications – it requires providing the right consumer journey to establish value and trust. Start by highlighting the features and benefits of your accounts and clarifying the unique differences to help users select the right solution based on their needs and preferences. This can be done through product comparison charts, or a more interactive tool, such as a product finder, that asks a series of questions and recommends the best solution based on the user’s selections.

In addition to providing essential product information on your website, it’s important to thoroughly explain how someone can open an account or apply for a loan online – including application requirements, simple and actionable steps to get started, as well as the average time the process takes to complete. It also helps to foster trust by showcasing your proven capabilities, which could be years of service, number of people served or even ratings and reviews that will make people feel confident in taking action.

Provide helpful financial resources

Inevitably, consumers will seek advice about which financial strategies and solutions are best for their unique financial circumstances. By providing relevant resources – from articles and infographics to financial calculators – you can help educate and empower consumers to discover answers independently. Not only can this support your customer service goals, but it can function as part of an overall content marketing strategy that can attract consumers at earlier stages of the consumer journey, and establish meaningful relationships that can be nurtured into new members or customers. A blog is a great way to deliver fresh content while providing a reason for visitors to come back, and can be add to an overall resource center that allows users to filter by financial needs, goals or life stages. These financial resources can be integrated into product and services pages to help guide visitors along the consumer journey. There are many third-party solutions available to provide your audiences access to financial literacy, as well as financial education content that can be incorporated directly into your website and customized for your brand and products.

Boost your FAQs section

Providing answers to frequently asked questions can help consumers get the answers they need, while reducing the amount of time spent responding to repeat call center requests. FAQs should be categorized by topic (e.g., mobile banking, mortgages), with a single page dedicated to each topic to make it easier for consumers to navigate. Having unique pages for specific FAQ topics also allows you to create a more streamlined experience from product and service pages – and even share on social media, email marketing, or within support-related communications – enhancing the overall user journey as part of decision-making. While you might have multiple FAQ pages, all frequently asked questions should be grouped by a single page, which can introduce and path out to the individual topics. This page might also highlight popular FAQs – such as “what is the routing number?” – or even a integrate a search feature to facilitate finding answers. An FAQs database that centrally manages FAQ content can make this functionality possible, while providing an easy way to maintain up-to-date information consistently throughout your site.

Improve your site search feature

While it may be important to search specific sections of your website, a global search feature that allows users to scan the entire site for information is key. The site search is typically placed prominently at the top of every page, making it easy for visitors to access. It can be as simple as a search field that drives users to a search results page, or it can be more robust. This might include takeovers in which the search field fills the page, answers to popular search queries or even use predictive search based on the first few letters entered.

The results page is an essential part of this experience. A standard search results page typically surfaces pages on the website that contain content related to the searched term or phrase. This can be enhanced by incorporating relevant frequently asked questions or financail resources. Third party solutions or custom development within the website CMS can help financial institutions deliver this enhanced customer service experience.

Offer multiple points of contact

81% of all customers attempt to take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative*. So while most people will try to find information and answers online or on their own before contacting you, your website needs to highlight how people can get in touch when they need to. Better yet, it should offer multiple ways for users to connect with you based on their preference, from phone numbers and online chat to email and contact forms. In fact, 70% of consumers say they prefer messaging over calling for customer support.* If possible, highlighting the wait time for the call center or online chat can be an effective way to set expectations with consumers, as well as direct traffic to alternative contact options given the current volumes. This can also relieve call centers, increase support speed and reduce consumer frustration. For email and forms, it can also be helpful to communicate your policy for response time after the initial message is received. All of these contact options should be accessible from a single page on your website, creating a one-stop-shop type of destination for all contact-related inquiries.

Make it easy to find a branch or ATM

There are some banking activities that will always require interaction in a branch. When a consumer needs to visit, help them find a branch or ATM quickly and easily. Every bank and credit union should have a page on its website for location information, as well as individual pages for each branch. This is essential for customer and member service, but also local search visibility. To increase ease of use, include an interactive map of all branches and ATMs, along with a search feature and filters on the main locations page. A custom a locations finder tool can provide this functionality, as well as offer a centralized spot to maintain location information on your website, making updates simple and streamlined while ensuring consistent and accurate content. Each pin on the map can serve as an access point to a subpage that includes specific information about that branch, including hours, services offered, as well as directions to get there. You may even want to include an image of the outside so people know what to look for when they arrive, and you can even add images of inside the branch to serve as an online tour. Containing location-specific content, customized meta tags and capabilities for schema integration, location detail pages can help support local SEO goals.

Ensure accessibility of service features

All of these helpful features, from contact options to FAQs, can be combined into a dedicated support page or section within your website. This page can also include other important support-related information, from what to do if you have a lost or stolen debit card to troubleshooting online banking login issues. Make this page easily accessible by providing various access points throughout the site. Adding links to the global navigation can be an effective way to ensure visibility to users on every page. Depending on your strategy, you might even choose to make these links “sticky” so that they follow the user as they scroll down the page and explore the site. The support page can also be surfaced in the site footer, or just above as part of a reminder call to action on pages. Whatever your approach, don’t forget to ensure accessibility for all users, including those with disabilities, by making your website ADA compliant.

Providing positive digital customer or member service means providing the right kind of assistance to consumers in the right place at the right time. Consider integrating some of these strategies into your existing website or as part of your next website redesign so you can better support consumers beyond the branch.
*Source: Silvercloud Article -- Harvard Business Review & IBM Watson

  • Banks
  • COVID-19
  • Credit Unions
  • Website

posted by
Brenna Kelliher
Brenna Kelliher
Senior Digital Strategist

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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