CX Insights

3 Elements of the Digital Journey Where Banks Can Build Customer Loyalty

9 min read

The way consumers interact with banks is transforming. Customers have more access to manage their finances online and their expectations for a remarkable digital experience (DX) are rising. 

Business Insider Intelligence‘s Mobile Banking Study found that 89% of survey respondents said they use mobile banking. Amidst a time of economic upheaval where consumers are relying heavily on digital channels, it’s more important than ever for financial brands to differentiate themselves by catering to client needs.

People have important relationships with their families, friends, as well as with their money and who they chose to trust it with. The financial industry is a highly competitive market, and the most effective way to stand out is to transform what have been traditionally transactional relationships into emotional ones. 

Focusing on emotions and building relationships is one way to develop what we call “brand energy”. Brand energy only grows when customers feel supported by their banks. 

Building trust and brand energy 

How do brands get customers to trust them? By collecting, listening and acting on customer feedback, brands improve the digital experience, which in turn builds brand energy. 

Brand energy is a measure of the power of your company’s brand. Brand energy is even more important in the financial sector because a powerful brand speaks to the trust customers put in their bank. They want to feel that their finances are secure and taken care of. As you deliver more positive experiences, brand energy and consumer loyalty grow. 

In this article, we present three areas of the customer journey where financial companies can collect feedback to improve their digital channels and foster a positive user experience.

For a bank to establish lifetime customers, they need to focus their attention on three places in the digital customer journey: developing customers’ financial capabilities, building more onboarding flows, and embracing accessibility and inclusive design.

The 3 key digital experience elements for banks  

There are many ways that the financial industry can leverage poignant financial events and the emotions of their clients to form a long-lasting relationship resulting in customer advocacy. In particular:

  • Focusing on developing customers’ financial capabilities.
  • Building more informative onboarding flows.
  • Embracing accessibility and inclusive design.

“Although everyday banking transactions are about completing a particular goal—often one that is seemingly utilitarian—emotion is the largest contributor to a bank brand’s energy.” Forrester, The Financial Well-Being Opportunity April 8, 2020 

Let’s begin by understanding how you can leverage a customer’s financial goals to build durable relationships.

  1. Focusing on developing customers’ financial capabilities

Every consumer has their own financial goals. When they are empowered to achieve them, they become better customers—more likely to use more services and build their wealth within your financial institution. 

By building financial literacy, such as the skills, attitude, and behaviors necessary to make smart financial decisions, you create customers for life. Understanding the needs of different account applicants can help banks showcase a variety of services and products. Through examining prospects’ broader banking needs, banks can position themselves to become a customer’s primary bank. 

The best way to understand your visitor’s needs is via user research, which can be captured with in-the-moment surveys. 

Ask your customers, “What are your top financial priorities?” or ask them to rank their priorities from a list of 4 or 5 options. Adding an open-text box for customers to submit their own thoughts is also useful in understanding their priorities more clearly. 

Once you’ve collected the feedback, you can see how customer’s priorities differ from apps to website users, see which resources have the most urgent need, and gather new ideas on how to support your customers. Once you know their needs, develop tools and resources on the site and via the app besides the traditional resources banks provide. 

One way to track the success of your resources online is through embedded feedback. Using icons, you can quickly track customer satisfaction on each piece of content, along with an open-text box to add more context to each comment. 

Usabilla embedded feedback icons

By recreating the in-branch experience on your digital channels, it transforms the focus from short-term planning to thinking about the long term. To be successful in nurturing customers towards financial literacy, institutions will need to understand exactly what their patrons want. 

Only with a deep understanding of their digital visitors can banks produce a digital experience that meets their long and short-term needs. When those needs are met and even exceeded, that user’s perception of you grows which builds brand energy. 

Focusing on educating customers also includes ensuring they understand the various services your institution provides. Let’s dive into the next critical step of the financial digital experience: onboarding. 

2. Building more onboarding flows 

In the United States, 25% of adults are unbanked or under-banked. When new folks open an account, it’s likely they have little experience with financial institutions, especially online. Even customers familiar with banking don’t purchase financial services often–they won’t know the process, as well as your institution, does. 

This can leave a vast gap between what customers are aware of and what your bank offers. Without proper onboarding, clients won’t even know what they’re missing out on. To help them see all of the features of their new account, show them everything they can do with a series of messages appropriate to their financial goals. 

Using a mobile app to help with onboarding can provide more tools than traditional website onboarding. For example, Airship found that there is a 190% higher retention rate for app users who receive one or more push notifications in their first 90-days versus those who don’t receive any. Push notifications can be a great way to remind people to log in and take advantage of several online features. 

When building onboarding flows, there are a few best practices to keep in mind: 

  • Understand where visitors run into roadblocks by gathering feedback along their journey. 
  • Set expectations on the requirements of any new applications, how long it will take, and anything else they can expect. 
  • Create omnichannel experiences across mobile and digital platforms to encourage visitors to take advantage of all functionality.

Collect feedback on onboarding flows with in-the-moment surveys. This way, you can target users within the onboarding flow and ask them specific questions about their experience. 

For example, you might trigger a survey based on people who begin the onboarding funnel but then motion to exit. A survey slides out asking, “How easy was it to accomplish your task today?” with a drop-down menu and/or open-text box for customers to add their insight. 

Example of a Usabilla slide-out survey 

If you see a trend in the feedback where visitors claim they’re not ready to sign up for an account, then you might readjust your onboarding flow with more resources and literature to guide visitors to sign-up. 

As we mentioned before, consumers are leaning heavily on digital channels to do their banking. The digital experience needs to be optimized for accessibility and design to ensure the customer’s digital experience is seamless and intuitive. 

3. Embracing accessibility and inclusive design

Forrester believes that there are three essential attributes that build brand relevance: usefulness, accessibility, and intelligence. These three ideas rely on building a digital experience that your customers love. 

“Banks must be accessible by ensuring that customers can complete tasks and get jobs done without encountering unnecessary barriers or friction—and without sparking security fears.”
-Forrester, Retention Is Not Enough: Banks Must Build Emotion-Rich Relationships To Grow, May 2020

As more people access their bank accounts using mobile apps and other digital platforms, it becomes even more important to optimize the digital banking experience. A surprising 91% of users who have access to a mobile banking app prefer to use the app over going to a physical branch

For the banking experience to be useful, customers need to locate services within their app, especially those beyond simple balance checks and bill payments. To be accessible, apps need a well-designed interface that’s intuitive for users to use–even those users new to online banking. Finally, intelligent banking needs to be considerate of the customer’s entire journey to help them meet their financial goals even faster. 

All of these design elements are improved by soliciting constant feedback from users. 

Most banking apps encounter the same UX failures

  • Icons are confusing instead of intuitive. This results in a trial-and-error process that frustrates visitors trying to become familiar with an app. 
  • Unclear error messages that stop visitors from achieving their goals. This leads to them calling in, or visiting in person to accomplish something that should have been possible on a digital platform. 
  • Poor search functionality such as a lack of auto-complete, or no global search function. This prevents users from finding the information they need, thinking that it doesn’t exist. 

Finance brands can use a persistent feedback button across their website and app pages where customers can leave feedback. A feedback button acts as a net to catch any bugs or complaints that infringe on the digital experience. With real-time feedback collection, your team can be alerted right away of any bugs or issues on your platforms. 

Recurrent feedback on a certain element of the digital experience could require a larger redesign. The fastest way to see these patterns is to continuously collect user insight, find trends in the feedback, and act on them to improve your digital channels. 

 Usabilla feedback button

Finding and eliminating these UX issues requires collecting customer feedback. This helps designers identify user behavior patterns and implement solutions based on the needs of real users, rather than what internal voices think may work.

In conclusion

Building a digital experience clients love builds trust and amplifies brand energy. Brand energy will continue to build momentum as finance companies create digital customer journeys based on their visitor’s feedback. 

Improve your customer’s financial capabilities, build more onboarding flows, and focus on accessibility and inclusive design to begin improving the financial digital experience.  Tending to the user’s needs is the only way financial companies will differentiate themselves. 

For a more in-depth overview on using feedback to improve the financial customer journey, download our free guide below. 

The guide covers in-depth

  • What is brand energy and how do you develop it?
  • Why listening to feedback builds customer loyalty.
  • Best practices for capturing feedback in the financial industry.
  • Collecting feedback across channels and the customer journey.

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