She was trying to set up autopay with a bank where she lived, but for whatever reason the process didn’t work and she gave up. Later, she received a call from one of the bank’s employees who asked if CarrieAnne needed help. When CarrieAnne explained that the autopay process didn’t work, the employee told her to try a different URL. CarrieAnne then asked the employee if she could just complete the process for her on the bank’s end, but the employee said she couldn't. So CarrieAnne tried the new URL and it still didn’t work. Things didn’t get better from there…
This experience has stuck with me ever since CarrieAnne told me about it. It’s a quintessential moment for bank employees to keep in mind when they develop new product or marketing initiatives. That is, this experience highlights one of the most important questions bank employees can ask themselves: How does the customer feel in each moment they are interacting with the bank?
To answer this question, bank employees must start by being ruthlessly honest about the banking experience they offer. They can’t afford to be biased about their own institution. They can’t assume that they inherently do things better than all their competitors. Instead, bank employees must believe that their processes can be improved. They must adopt the perspective of their customers and be hyper-attuned for moments of friction. Above all, they must build the banking experience they would want for themselves.
It’s a difficult mindset to maintain, but it’s essential if financial institutions want to develop their competitive edge. If bank employees can keep in mind that every decision they make affects an end user’s real-world experience, they’ll focus more on making sure the experience produces positive feelings instead of frustration.
In addition, it's important to implement usability tests to document how real users feel about the experiences they offer. This is the only way to be fair about what you're offering. If the bank that CarrieAnne was working with had run such tests before launching their autopay product, they would have likely fixed the problems with the experience before a user like CarrieAnne had to endure the flawed process. Usability tests open the way for bankers to track a user’s emotions moment to moment and thereby build the experience they actually want to build.
Of course, building the banking experience you would want for yourself is easier said than done. In part two of this series, we’ll look at how banks are hampered by regulation, committees, and the wide range of projects facing teams in charge of bank innovation.