First impressions are important. From a first date, to trying a new restaurant, one lousy encounter can be the deal breaker for a second chance. This same logic goes for a company’s online experience—a bad user experience, especially on the first engagement, can negatively impact the company’s retention rate.

This is especially true for financial institutions—an industry that for the past few years has been extremely focused on providing a positive and engaging digital banking experience. Yet somehow, many banks and credit unions are still missing the mark when it comes to providing the right online user journey. Which means they are losing a chance to grow relationships with today’s digital consumer.

Mobile & online banking users are more likely than non-mobile bankers to use additional banking products. That means they expect a streamlined experience that makes it easy to bank and open accounts online. However, high abandonment rates—40% or more—continue to be a dark cloud hanging over bank and credit unions and it’s time to address the problem.

Far too often financial institutions online account opening processes require the consumer to jump from one screen to the next and spend time on repetitive steps (not ideal in any case, but more so on mobile). This disjointed and annoying encounter breaks the expected seamless digital journey and adds to higher abandonment rates.

Financial institutions need to take a step back and ask themselves, are we approaching online banking the right way? Do we know our audience? Are we thinking like digital consumers?

One mistake commonly made when thinking about digital banking is that it’s only done on smart phones. Turns out practically everyone uses digital banking not just on their phone but also tablets, laptops and even PCs. Banks and credit unions need to make sure their digital platform is an intuitive, mobile-optimized applicant process that can be used across a variety of devices.

Also, consumers love to save time. Banks and credit unions need to remember this is half the attraction to online banking – the time it saves. One way to make it even easier for the user is to find ways to automate information collection, such as snapping a picture of a driver’s license to pull information via mobile capture to complete applications. Along with quick information collection, another time saver is making the application process one direct path from start to finish. Very few people are willing to spend more than 15 minutes on a digital channel to open an account or fill out any type of application. Banks and credit unions need to set themselves up for success at the very beginning by deploying the right online consumer journey with a laser focus on user experience design—helping to lower bounce rates and attracting and retaining customers.

It’s time for financial institutions to step out from under the black cloud of high abandonment rates and offer online journeys that are seamless and require little time or effort. It’s also important to think about the untapped potential of mobile users and communicate how their digital experience is as good as any name-brand organization and to differentiate themselves by highlighting how their service, pricing and value beats the competition.

Today’s digital consumers refuse to settle when it comes to their online experiences and won’t hesitate to ditch one and go in search for a better one elsewhere.

First impressions count. Banks and credit unions need to make sure their digital experience is one that leads to regular engagement and deeper relationships. 

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Libby Wilson is an Account Manager at Weber Marketing Group.

As a brand ambassador for her clients, Libby helps align their business goals with target audience needs. Her experience includes strategic planning, brand strategy, digital marketing, project management, and social media.

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