No matter how customers or members interact with your financial institution, their experiences should be the same. Your branches and website are two different ways of serving up the same products, services and support—and both are essential to your identity and communication as a financial institution. So why are banks and credit unions still making mistakes on their websites that they would never make in their branches?
Your digital presence is just as important as in-person banking. This was true before the coronavirus pandemic and is undeniable now. Whether we’re on the precipice of a new normal or banking returns to the way it was, your website should function as a virtual branch. This means it should be equally intuitive and easy to navigate. Customers and members must be able to quickly find what they’re looking for, answer their questions and receive additional support when needed.
While most of us are familiar with this idea, many financial institutions make at least one of the following mistakes on their websites. In a time when your website must do more of the heavy lifting, consider optimizing your online experience to make the transition to digital banking a seamless one.
Mistake #1: A Cumbersome Site Architecture
Requiring users to fumble around a clunky, confusing website is like driving up to an ATM and making the card reader hard to find or difficult to reach. Imagine the frustration of trying to withdraw cash and not being able to figure out how. Failing to create an intuitive website architecture is no different. Your visitors should be able to get around without having to hunt for the most important features.
Consider what users are most commonly visiting your website to accomplish. Generally, the largest percentage of traffic is looking to log into online banking. Users expect to find the login placed prominently on your homepage and easily accessible elsewhere on the site. Another subset of visitors might be looking to take out a loan or open a new account. They want to quickly identify the option that’s right for them, then see a clear path to sign up or apply. Ensure that your website navigation supports the user journey by guiding visitors through the conversion funnel. No matter the user’s intent, every step should be intuitive. If it isn’t, this will not only erode trust and loyalty, it will also impact your bottom line.
Mistake #2: Burying or Excluding Important Information
If someone walked into a branch and asked about rates or fees, would a banker answer this person’s question? Of course. It’s just as important to include this information prominently on your website. This helps customers and members make informed decisions and feel confident in the services they’re selecting.
Neglecting to provide this information—even if it’s only in the fine print—is like pushing customers or members to open an account and ignoring their follow-up questions. Of course, features, benefits and key differentiators matter too, but consumers want to know all the implications before they come on board.
Consider a Rates Management Tool to create a centralized location for all your account and loan rates. You can then choose how and where to surface these rates on your website while taking advantage of dynamic updates through the tool. This makes it easy to manage changing rates while ensuring customers and members have access to the information they need.
Mistake #3: Using Confusing Language or Terminology
When it comes to your website, use plain speak and layman’s terms whenever possible, and consider your primary demographic when developing your brand voice. If your consumer base is mainly interested in personal banking, your tone might be different than if you were catering to investors.
Financial institutions must balance professionalism and authority with straightforward, easy-to-understand language. Terminology that may seem commonplace to industry veterans could go over the heads of the people you serve. Because many people lack self-confidence when it comes to financial literacy, your job is to keep banking factual yet relatable.
To help users better understand your banking solutions, do some SEO keyword research within your geographic footprint and leverage high-volume search terms in your website copy. You’ll see more success when you speak to customers and members in the way they’re thinking about your products. If more complicated terminology is unavoidable, consider using description text to paraphrase or explain.
Mistake #4: Neglecting Website Analytics
The “set it and forget it” approach can be a tempting (and easy) one to adopt when it comes to your website. Ignoring website performance, however, is like setting your branches on autopilot without ever checking in on them. Are operations effective? Is the branch profitable? Are there any major pain points to work through?
Website analytics can provide clues as to how well your financial institution’s website is doing its job. Examining page traffic and top website search terms can help you understand what most users are looking for. You may consider elevating these items in your navigation or page content. Custom event tracking can also shed light on how users are interacting with elements that won’t automatically be tracked “out of the box,” such as your online banking login, account opening functionality and loan application platform. Are visitors finding calls-to-action, clicking them and completing the conversion? Strategic use of website analytics can help you determine how users are engaging with your website and identify areas of opportunity.
Mistake #5: Overlooking Online Support
Failing to provide online support is no different than failing to provide in-branch support. Even—and sometimes especially—after a transaction is complete, it’s essential to guide customers and members along their financial journeys. Nurture these relationships to ensure every experience with your bank or credit union is a positive one.
With so much financial instability these days, ongoing support is more important than ever. Your members and customers will want reassurance as they navigate the process of managing their money. Be sure your bank or credit union’s contact information is readily available on your website. This should ideally include multiple points of contact (e.g., phone, a contact form, social media). You may even consider integrating live chat to provide instant access to online support. Surfacing useful tools and resources such as calculators and financial literacy content can also help users feel more self-sufficient. Frequently asked questions will address common inquiries while supporting your customer service team’s efforts.
Bottom line: treat your online customers or members the way you would treat them at your branches. Your website is the 24/7/365 face of your financial institution, and both experiences are equally important. As the world transforms and competition remains strong, winning in the digital space can be key to your institution’s success. Get in touch with ZAG to learn more about how we can help you put your best foot forward online.