Banks – get your website right before worrying about your iPad App

There’s a lot of excitement about Apple’s new iPad. This week it was reported in various news sources that two banks in Australia were releasing an iPad app to capitalize on the iPad fever. Now… you’d normally find one of the first to jump in and hail such an announcement as an indication of real progress in the fight to innovate the retail banking space. But on this occasion, well I’m not jumping…

The two banks in question in this instance are NAB (The bank formerly known as National Australia Bank) and St George (now part of the Westpac group). The problem I have with this whole announcement is not that it isn’t a positive move, because it is, the problem I have is that they still don’t have the fundamentals right on their existing websites and they’re fooling around with the iPad! Get real people!!!

NAB's Dedicated iPad App looks cool! But they've got bigger problems...

If you go to NAB, St George, Wells Fargo, Citibank, Bank of America – well just about any banking website today – the customer experience is pretty poor. When you get behind the login, which is where 70-90% of the traffic goes when it hits the homepage, things get even worse.

For over 10 years most of the banks that I work with have been collecting information about me. They know my spending habits through my credit card usage. They know the mobile phone operators I work with in the countries where I live and work. They know my average spend on things like my Apple iPhone, iPad, Laptop, Flat Screen TV, etc. They know which business accounts I transfer my salary from. They know the relationships I have with various investment partners where I make regular contributions to savings plans or lump sum payments to my managed funds. They know which stocks I favor and hold in my portfolio. The also know the name of children, how long I’ve been married and the last three residences I’ve had. The reason I know they know all this is that either it is something they’ve asked me as part of their KYC (Know Your Customer) procedures, or something that appears on the statements they send me for my credit card or various accounts. They have the potential to know me and my financial savings and consumption habits, probably better than I know myself. But…you wouldn’t know it.

The thing is…when I visit their website or login to internet banking – they appear to have absolutely no idea of who I am.

In the late 90s I remember that there was a huge push for ‘personalization’ and CMS’. But what have we really learned about forming the appropriate message and content on our homepages in that time? Pretty much nothing. Let’s look at an organization that has learned about the value of the homepage:

“Yahoo is a company that is very strong in content. It’s moving towards the web of one. We have 32,000 variations on our front page module. We serve a million of those a day. It’s all customized. Our click-through rate went up twice since we started customizing this.”
Carol Bartz, CEO of Yahoo, TechCrunch Disrupt, May 24, 2010

So why is it that banks have no idea how to engage me? Here’s a simple test. Take two products that are fairly popular when you review search engine keywords related to banks – mortgages and student loans. When I go to any of the sites mentioned above, finding information on these two products is generally not that difficult. However, when I’m doing research on these products, studies show that I will probably come back a few times to my bank’s website before I decide to apply (if I can apply online at all that is). It is the easiest thing in the world when I return to the bank’s homepage for me to be presented with an offer for a mortgage or a student loan up front, based on what I looked at on my last visit. By prioritizing this content up front, simply through the use of cookies, I dramatically improve the likelihood I’ll get where I need to. The bank already knows I’m interested in this product, so why bother slamming me with the offer of the month or telling me about the bank’s social corporate responsibility program. Give me something relevant!

The fact is, pretty much every bank you visit online these days forgets you as soon as you close the tab or window on the browser. That’s why, with many bank websites, were still presented with commercial banking information, investor news and even the dreaded press releases when 99% of the traffic is focused on retail banking related services and products.

With the amount of data bank’s have on their customers and the amount of data they have on traffic, product enquiries, applications and transaction history – building a platform to allow customization of the homepage should be a snap. There is no offer management, no active sales engagement either through the homepage or the secure internet banking portal – it’s just like walking into my branch and feeling like nobody knows me.

A word to the wise – you should know me well enough to serve me better through these basic platforms. Get those right before you start worrying about your iPad app!

Comments

  1. Re: “…serve me better through these basic platforms. Get those right before you start worrying about your iPad app!”

    Agreed. That was basically the same point I made here:
    http://thefinancialbrand.com/9.....marketers/

  2. Dylan Keath says:

    Looks cool, but wait for v2.0 for calculators / financial mgt tools – then it will be cool.

    Content / usability – the scale and complexity of a banks web presence is immense – could they infact do a ‘technology leap’ as third world countries have, skipping copper phones and going direct to mobile?

  3. Blake says:

    you have a good sense of humour.

  4. Funny how some FIs focus on the hardware without addressing fundamental questions. Questions such as:

    What is our online strategy and how does it impact the overall brand experience?
    How is our website being used today?
    Does our website work with or against other channels?
    What is our overall engagement strategy?

    Perhaps the hardware is the sexy part. But I would not start there.

    • bank2book says:

      Bryan,

      Yes, exactly my point. You have to start with the fundamental, total customer experience. The hardware or technology is an enabler to a better customer solution.

      BK

  5. Dick Wlach says:

    So very true, thanks for the post! Banks – get your website right before worrying about your iPad App Banking 4 Tomorrow was a wonderful read.

  6. Superb Blog here on the financial sector. I love reading blogs that have to do with business and finance, so thank you for keeping us up to date with your blog! Ill be coming back!

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