Banks; unsophisticated web designers

Banks go to some trouble these days to make their branches welcoming. Less effort seems to go into their web sites. I want to contrast three experiences I had trying to get some documentation off a bank; Westpac in this case.

1. Telephone. Very, very bad experience. The whole service is set up to handle existing customers (“please key in your customer number”) or new housing loan customers. Not much else. The people who write these scripts don’t seem to appreciate that if people are listening to a robot they don’t want politeness; they want SPEED! And EFFICIENCY. In the end I got wrong advice from this service which cost me two days when I needed information urgently.

2. Internet. Very bad experience. The telephone lady had told me the correct terminology for what I was looking for so I thought, okay, I’ll look for that on their web site. Nothing. Zilch. All you get on their web site (and this is a common situation with big businesses) is pages trying to sell you stuff. Very frustrating.

What these people don’t realise is that they are in the information business. If they provide a better information service than their competitors they will win business. The web is an excellent way of providing information. As a business, you should be asking yourself, what information are my customers looking for? That will lead to a different and superior web design. When you look at the successful new sites they are sites that deliver a benefit to users. Big businesses seem unable to think this way.

3. In branch. Having finally learnt that I needed to visit a branch to get what I needed, I did. Completely satisfactory experience. It’s so GOOD to deal with a HUMAN BEING! Although I still don’t have what I wanted, the person I dealt with made enquiries within the Westpac network and gave me accurate information.

And 3 Conclusions:

1. Let’s assume my experience is a normal: phone interaction unsatisfactory, web interaction unsatisfactory, in-branch a winner. Why not use your phone and web media to encourage people to come into a branch?

2. Why isn’t the website database designed around key words? None of the banks seem to be trying to establish an edge on the net but this is certainly possible. If you successfully create an in-house culture around key words and classify all faq documents accordingly you could impress a lot of customers. Solicit from customers their suggested improvements. Tell them your objective is to be the BEST bank web site. THERE IS MORE TO INTERNET BANKING THAN TRANSFERRING MONEY AROUND.

3. Many businesses think the web is a sales medium but that’s wrong; it is an interactive medium. If you offer better interaction than your competitors you will end up generating increased sales. And that doesn’t apply to just banking.

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