Does Your Website Function As A Branch Office?

Bob Michaels

Posted On February 21, 2017

It’s no secret that your customers’ habits have changed due to the convenience that technology now provides. Where people bank has evolved from the branch to the website to a mobile application, but are you still providing them with the same opportunities and services online that they would receive in a physical branch? We have created a guide for you to assess your digital assets.

“If I can do business with you while never stepping into a branch office, I will be a customer for life.” - 2016 CBM Conference, summarizing the attitude of millennials.

Your website is a 24-hour branch, making products and services accessible to anyone, at any time. Customers want to do more than check their account balance online. They also want to apply for a mortgage, credit card, consumer loan or home equity line of credit. Only 1/3rd of CBM members we’ve looked at allow customers to do the basic action of opening an account online. This drastically limits new customer acquisition and will cause a loss in current customers to other financial institutions who allow them to do a full range of banking online.

Why Bank with You?

Give users what they really want to know – why they should bank with you versus your competitor. Think beyond bullet points. Tell a story, not just interest rates. Highlight your specialties and give your expert knowledge. Remember, to be most effective your website should be fluid, changing as customers’ needs change. By providing focused and useful information, you are building trust and positioning your brand as a credible resource for other industry related information. More importantly, you’re building the foundation for future business.

Do you prompt customers to open an account, to learn more about a product or to sign up for a newsletter? You may not physically see customers, but you should still be actively engaged with them. Guide users through your website, making suggestions with bold calls to action that standout and can be differentiated from other text.

Can you answer yes to these three questions:

  1. Do you provide enough information to educate customers about all the financial questions they may have?
  2. Are you leveraging your content in a more creative and interesting way than competitors? 
  3. Is your website customer-centric, easily navigating customers to the pages they want?

If you answered no to any of these, you are diminishing your brand’s value in the mind of your customer. Improve your positioning by implementing a content marketing strategy that evaluates what your customers are doing on your website and what they wish to do or find. Set goals and track analytics to see how your changes have effected your customers’ web actions.

Marketing at every point of contact is crucial to growth and development.

Create a comprehensive marketing plan that includes website, mobile app, branch, out of home promotions and events. The plan should be unique to each, while connecting to a central theme that’s brand specific. Doing so ensures a consistent message is received and enhances the customer’s experience, increasing awareness, discovery and use of services.

A mobile app itself is not the solution.

Mobile banking has quickly become the preferred way to bank, which means decreased traffic to your website. This is alarming because an app can’t take the place of your website. Your website provides more information to acquire customers and inform current customers, while mobile apps are designed specifically to engage existing customers. Both platforms are important for the customer conversion and retaining process. Although each platform is tailored for different uses it is still important that they are uniform. The mobile app is transactional; the website is informational and the branch is personal. They need to be interconnected to achieve customer satisfaction across the board.

Consistency is key.

You’ve probably heard that one before. However, creating a seamless experience for users who go from your app to your website is vital for successful online banking. The solution: linked conversions with click-thru functions. To put it simply, your app should have the capability to direct users to a correlating landing page on your website for more information. Ask your app developer if you can place a banner ad or marketing message within your app to drive traffic to a desired page on your website.

Your customer, the final say.

You have goals for your customers, they have their own objectives. You need to create a digital strategy that addresses your customers’ objectives and achieves your goals. Set aside time to evaluate your digital assets; are they useful to the customer? Do they help achieve your business goals? Simple steps to take include: checking to see if your website is responsive, track the usage of your mobile app, ensure the layouts are clear and calls to action are obvious and enticing, keep your site ADA compliant and always keep the customer’s experience as the focus.

With over 75% of customers applying online its critical to make these customer-facing changes. Don’t lose out on new customers – many you may not even realize – due to an outdated website. When evaluating your website keep in mind that two out three people who try to open an account online are not able to complete their applications and only 53% are able to put funds in their account.*

*statistics courtesy of The Financial Brand 2016

Originally published in the Community Bankers of Michigan’s Community Spirit, issue 8, 2016 edition.