When it comes to online banking services, none of us is a stranger to bad experiences. But why are these services typically a pain to use?
This is partially rooted in strict regulations that banking products and services are subject to which ultimately imposes restrictions on design.
But there’s also the fact that banks feel they need to stay safely ‘within the box’ when it comes to design of their services in order to communicate reliability, security, and stability to their users.
No matter how unattractive it may seem, working on digital banking solutions gives UX designers an opportunity to tackle challenging, real-life user experience problems. They can stretch the box from the inside and make a real impact both for the users and for the bank.
The Relationship Between UX and Trust
Imagine this. A bank launches a new digital product and expects their customers to naturally gravitate towards the new solution - it’s easier than going to the branch, it allows them to do the ‘jobs’ they’d normally do when visiting a bank, minus the time spent.
The new product holds a lot of promise. But from the customers’ perspective, they’re taking a risk by agreeing to use it. The bank is, in a way, asking them to take a leap of faith because financial decision-making is emotional.
The role of UX design is to make that experience less scary for the users by demonstrating that the bank understands their needs and worries, and that it can deliver a consistent experience both offline and online.
However, the road to designing digital banking products so that they inspire and build trust while delivering value isn’t exactly easy. It’s an iterative process that involves a lot of research, customer insights, and testing.
At SpiceFactory, we’re working with banks and financial services companies to help them inspire trust and foster loyalty with their digital products through the UX-first approach.
Our process always starts from research, understanding what users want to accomplish with the system and what challenges they encounter along the way. We then try to put ourselves in their shoes i.e. looking at the banking system with their level of financial and technical cognition.
To find problem areas, our team observes how users perform key interactions with the digital banking system. These usability tests help formulate recommendations on how to best improve anything from a specific functionality (e.g. transfer money from one account to another) to the entire information architecture of the system.
This is the only way to get the insight you need to create a meaningful user experience that encompasses all of the following traits:
These traits together instill a strong sense of trust and safety in users. Now, let’s look at one example from our practice.
A client bank tasked us to do a complete UX audit of their website, online banking app, and mobile banking app. This was a huge job, but it consisted of many small, precisely planned actions that were all rooted in research.
To understand how people navigate the bank’s website and if they’re able to find the content and information they need, we’ve organized testing sessions with representative users from the bank’s customer persona groups.
They were performing what should’ve been simple tasks, like finding the loan interest rates on the bank’s website. However, 60% of test participants couldn’t find the loan calculator on the homepage.
The confidence of users who participated in testing eroded significantly when they felt that the content and offers on the bank’s website are either difficult to find or not relevant to their needs.
Great UX design is all about enabling users to see the big picture, but at the same time makes all the key information readily available. In this particular case, our research revealed different ways UI design can miss opportunities to earn banking customers’ trust.
The idea behind UX testing and a process like UX audit is to understand and design factors that actually matter to digital banking users: the displaying of information they need when they need it, their knowledge about the banking products for their specific context, the task flow for specific processes, etc.
During the testing, we uncovered that the majority of the respondents were noticeably insecure in banking online - opening a savings account, applying for a loan - they shared they would still prefer to visit a branch. The root of this insecurity was in the lack of trust.
At the conclusion of this research, we were able recommended solutions which resulted in new user behaviors and a much better overall experience.
Designing for The Journey
When you look at a typical user journey with your bank, you’ll see that it really focuses on the end goal the user wants to achieve.
But, things are never really that simple…
If you look at it holistically, the user’s experience includes a series of different touch-points. And if we’re talking digital-only, these could include your website, mobile banking app, online banking app, support chat, and more.
Each of these touchpoints, if it delivers value and empowers users to achieve their end goal, plays an important role in building trust in your digital banking products. So it’s never a good idea to just build them and forget them.
Instead, map your customer journey to visualize how people interact with your bank across digital products and channels. This will help you understand your users better and maybe even push you to consider doing an Omnichannel UX audit to make sure you’re putting your user’s needs first, at every step.
After all, it’s not just about offering ’banking’ — you need to show your customers that you care to help them improve their financial life, on their own terms, and on any channel they choose. They need to feel in control of their financial journey.
A UX audit that spans multiple channels is useful because it helps you uncover ‘unexpected friction’ in your mobile and web apps and your website. Friction is a necessary component in financial applications - in a highly regulated industry such as banking, digital systems are protecting user data by asking for more inputs. This is a lot different that what you see in your typical consumer apps.
Again, good UX design can create a sense of ‘seamlessness’ within the app to minimize the sense of friction. Financial UX is all about hitting that sweet spot between safety and simplicity to build user trust and deliver a meaningful experience regardless of the channel.
UX design provides banks with the tools which can help them center an entire design process around their customers. This can drive a positive shift in user behavior and perception of digital banking products which ultimately builds trust and loyalty.