March 31, 2016

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Making Online Banking Accessible

I was once asked by online product managers at a bank of innovative ways of increasing adoption of online banking usage. I was told that new customers are offered online banking access after opening an account in the branch, but for many demographics usage continues to be low. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t invested heavily in building out their website. Been there. Done that. But “build it and they will come” simply wasn’t the case.

Now what?

Innovation idea #1: what I suggested is that adoption is not the problem. It is how the customer is being given their online access. Rather than make it an after-the-fact here you go type of transaction after the account is opened, why not make on-boarding an online only customer initiated activity? I know. There is the issue of verifying who the customer is -- KYC compliance (blah blah blah), but why not "outsource" as much of the new account opening to the customer? You know, the one you’re trying to adopt online usage. Show them what it means to be digital. Why is it an internal “banker” process at all? Why does a customer have to walk into a branch and watch a banker key in everything into their computer -- with the monitor facing them? Seem like a rather archaic process to me.

I have an idea. What about getting rid of a few couches in the lobby and replacing them with self-service stations? This self-service station should not simply be a kiosk with a separate look and feel (or customer experience for that matter) from the regular customer online portal. Rather, it should be an introduction to online accessible banking and allow the customer to start opening an account right there in the branch ONLINE and finish ONLINE at home or on their mobile device if they so choose.

In fact, I have seen an “accessible online banking” terminal at a branch of one of the largest US banking institutions. But it seemed so uninviting. Tucked away in a corner. On a small desk that looked so private and uncomfortable. Very different from the self-service bays that I witnessed at the teller-free branches in Stockholm. Much more inviting almost like an internet café. Customer experience is more than just the images, words and screens we put online. If we are to properly engage the customer in the digital experience, then we must invite them to participate in ways that makes them feel comfortable. Not all customers are millennial.

A lot of the opportunities to innovate are right in front of us. If we only stopped to think how we would do things to make it easier for the customer to do business with us if all the barriers to change were eliminated. It is the walls of our own perceptions that hold us back.

Digital change is easier than you think. Let's give it a try -- together.