By now, no one in banking should need another reminder about how important digital technology is to the future of their financial institution. It’s obviously critical, but without an understanding and prioritization of human usability, a focus on tech-first can lead to a digital disaster for banks and credit unions.
When investing in online- and mobile-banking platforms, chat capability, high-tech ATMs, or video tellers in branches, financial institutions often forget the importance of factoring in how consumers will respond to these tech-driven advances.
It’s essential to balance today’s amazing technology with human behavior and with expectations for the technology to work seamlessly to improve the lives of consumers and to boost your institution’s bottom line.
For example, when selecting a third-party online banking solution, you must pay very close attention to what problems the technology solves for consumers and how easy it is to use across all devices. If you go into each demo with a checklist of user priorities in addition to your business priorities, you will look very differently at the choices.
“You must pay very close attention to what problems the technology solves for consumers and how easy it is to use.”
Your checklist should include such essentials as mobile responsiveness and ADA compliance, but should also consider how different consumer audiences will respond. Remember, Millennials and Gen Z are not yet the majority of your customers in most cases.
Likewise, if you are overhauling your website to offer a better experience, your redesign goals must be built around the priorities of your audience. People will embrace new technology and see direct value in it only if/when things are made easy. Any barrier — real or perceived — will elicit an immediate and emotional reaction that discourages use.
You’re Designing For Cross-Generational Users
“Most people don’t want to spend their time banking. Embracing this fact gives financial marketers a unique positioning opportunity.”
Let’s be real. Most people don’t want to spend their time banking. Honoring and embracing this reality gives you a unique positioning opportunity as a financial marketer.
Part of your job is to introduce digital solutions that enhance your user experience and remove frustrations. If done well, this can make consumers appreciate — and even become ambassadors for — your brand. But if you don’t consider the cross-generational nature of your customers and only focus on coveted groups that get all the buzz, you will fail to meet your customers’ needs.
Some of the best lessons about balancing technology and human behavior come from our everyday lives. For instance, here’s an example from my own experience. Recently I paid a visit to a health-care provider, only this time there was no one at the front-desk. There was simply an iPad kiosk. Looking around, I noticed that there were three other people (two older men and one middle-aged woman) sitting and waiting. As I navigated from one screen to the next on the kiosk, I overheard the two gentlemen complaining to each other. Each expressed frustration with not having a human to help them. “Nobody wants to talk to you anymore,” griped one. “Not everybody knows how to use this stuff,” bemoaned the other. “It’s embarrassing to not know how to do this.” One even criticized the medical facility’s apparent marketing strategy: “They only care about the younger generation.”
Did they walk out because of this? No, but only because it was a health-related issue — quite possibly a matter of life and death. But, if the lab had asked them how it could have improved their experience, you can bet it would get an earful about the kiosk. Not exactly great for referrals.
Now imagine how people might respond and behave when dealing with providers of other services, where their are options and alternatives… like banking.
Consumers Must See Tech as a Plus… For Them
When financial institutions consider the views of their customers before investing in new technology, they can ensure usability for all segments. The truth is that many of the improvements that older consumers and disabled users might need — e.g. larger font size, labeled buttons, clear instructions and a simple interface — are the same kind of improvements that anyone will appreciate.
With new technologies, you need to do everything possible to minimize consumer confusion. Design and implement systems for users who are the least tech-savvy and you’ll have world-class solutions that please everyone — from Millennials to Boomers. Then, instead of technology being intimidating or irritating, it is positioned in a more human-friendly way.
In banking, we often push our technology solutions on consumers in a one-size fits all manner. But if we instead step back to approach each solution based on key user needs, the integration of this technology into everyday lives can be painless and even exciting.
For example, most banks and credit unions for years have encouraged account holders to move from costly paper statements to e-statements. A common marketing tactic is to position this as “going green,” yet while this feel-good approach is in fact true, for many, that benefit doesn’t transcend the important human considerations of convenience and routine.
Electronic statements will never be an easy sell if consumers don’t feel they will be able to remember to review all of their transactions monthly, as they have been accustomed to doing when their paper statements arrive in the mail. But if customers understood that there is a free option to get a friendly text or email reminder when their monthly online statement is ready, they may just open their minds to the e-statement solution after all. And, with this barrier removed, a bonus financial perk in their account may just be the icing on the cake to foster loyalty.
As you vet technology investments against your business needs, considering how consumers will emotionally respond is vital. Going into each technology decision with a list of how it will solve problems for your customers and how tactically you will position this to them can be the difference between just checking the item off your to do-list and embracing the positive impact technology can have on people’s lives and on your institution.