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Thomas Gronbach, director of marketing Europe at Keynote

The rapid proliferation of digital technologies has meant that financial institutions can now interact with their customers on a number of different devices.  This has led to the rise of ‘omni-channel banking’, where customers simultaneously use online and offline channels – such as mobile, tablet, desktop and visiting in-branch – to handle their finances.

As customers are increasingly using these devices, however, banks must ensure that their websites and apps are performing well – quick to load and reliable – so that regardless of the device they are choosing to access the site from, it always works first time.  Good online performance reassures customers that a bank is reliable and can handle their hard earned money responsibly, as well as giving banks the opportunity to leap one step ahead of their competitors, as the site is more responsive and better received by customers. Ongoing insight and understanding into what customers are truly experiencing online is, therefore, crucial to the success of omnichannel banking and establishing a competitive advantage.

Optimal experience – in-branch and online

Thomas Gronbach
Thomas Gronbach

Banking online provides customers with a service that is quick and convenient, but these benefits will soon be negated if the site is slow or unreliable. Whether a customer is trying to access the site via a mobile, tablet or desktop, good performance should come as standard, not least because there are plenty of other well performing sites that a customer can turn to instead.

It is therefore crucial for banks to understand what their customers are truly experiencing, regardless of their network, handset, device or location, and to be able to quickly identify and resolve any issues.  By regularly testing and monitoring a site, banks will know early on if a site is slowing or if certain elements aren’t loading correctly.  It can then take action to remove those features or choose alternatives that have less of an impact on the performance of the site.  This means that no matter where a device is, or the network it is on, the bank has full control over the experience it is offering to customers.

One of the most important things to remember is that, while online experience may be good on one device, at the same time, it could be negatively impacting another.  The sheer number of different mobile devices means that sites will not always appear the same.  They have to be consistent, while taking into account variations of screen sizes and functionalities, and this is not to mention the obvious disparity between viewing a site on a desktop computer, compared to a tablet or mobile.  Furthermore, just scaling down a desktop site to accommodate the smaller screen size and slower download speeds of a mobile is not enough, and could cause the site to be clunky and hard to navigate.  To meet customer expectations for a quality omnichannel service, banks must treat each device separately, continually testing and monitoring the site performance, to ensure it is offering the best experience possible across all channels.

In such a highly competitive industry, if a bank is unable to deliver an adequate online experience, their customers are likely to go elsewhere, and this is why it is critical that banks benchmark against competitors.  Keynote monitors a number of online homepages of top UK banking sites week on week*, ranking each of the homepages in terms of their time to load and availability.  The index is a clear indication of overall online customer experience and can quickly tell a bank why they are losing traction online.

Banks (19/05/14 – 25/05/14)Time to load (s)Availability (%)
HSBC Bank2.7299.69
Metro Bank1.3399.86
UK Banking1.1599.95
Bank of Scotland1.14100
First Direct0.88100
operative bank0.77100
Intelligent Finance0.51100

Omni-channel success

For banks to truly embrace the omni-channel era, it is important that flawless experience transcends across all channels, including mobile, tablet, desktop and in-branch.  Website and mobile applications should be designed to load quickly and be consistently available for customers to access.  Failing to do this will significantly impact a banks reputation for reliability and, on top of this, will result in huge revenue losses, for example, if a customer is unable to complete a credit card application.

Omni-channel banking customers, in particular, have very high expectations for online responsiveness, which is not surprising given that it is their money at stake. They won’t be afraid to go elsewhere if unsatisfied, making it vital that banks get it right first time.  Put simply, when the likes of high value transactions are being held in the balance, banks cannot afford to risk losing customers because of poor mobile, tablet and website performance.