Simplicity in the Digital Age. Where Have You Gone?
Simplicity. How we tend to forget it in our quest for innovation. What consumers really want in technology is simplicity. Why? Simplicity creates processes that increase efficiency. The simpler the technology is to use, the more tasks can be done in the same amount of time, making it efficient. And efficiency creates increased productivity. Consumers want a digital experience that is simple (easy to use), efficient (saves time), and productive (complete multiple “to-do” items) in the digital channel.
The problem is that technology designers often forget those three factors that consumers are looking for. The Amazon Kindle and the Barnes and Noble Nook are innovative devices. Both devices enable a library of books to be downloaded into one portable device. The availability of the reader’s books offers a convenient and pleasurable reading experience any time or anywhere. Maybe. One of the outcomes of the COVID stay at home orders was an increase in at home fitness. Exercise bikes became a hot commodity as many people have turned to indoor cycling for their workouts. Many of these cycles contain holders to view a tablet while biking. There is just one problem. There is no way to advance the page without touching the device. In the age of voice assistants, why can’t a cyclist give a verbal command such as “page” to advance to the next page of the ebook? That feature would be simple, efficient, and productive. BINGO!
When looking at the digital banking experience, the same principles of simple, efficient, and productive are paramount to a satisfying digital banking experience. Functions like Quick Balance and Text Banking prove that digital users want their application to embody these functional principles. Once inside the app, however, those principles begin to wane due to the design. Cluttered designs often create a confusing, rather than simple, user experience. The more difficult it is for a digital user to instantly decipher the information, the less efficient the app, creating a non-productive experience, frustration, and app abandonment. Too much information destroys the simple principles discussed earlier.
Undoubtedly, there are readers shouting out loud “we need focus groups and demographic user panels”. Maybe. But there is plenty of research that identifies the three main components that users access in their digital app: transaction history, remote deposit capture, and credit score.
  • In a 2018 article, Statista lists transaction history (View Recent Transactions) as a primary feature in digital banking.
  • An article from February 25, 2020 in the Financial Brand cites the importance of Remote Deposit Capture among all of the generational segments.
  • According to a March 1, 2021 article in Forbes, 48% of consumers use their primary or secondary bank to manage their credit score.
  • Credit Karma, which is a primary app for credit score management, has over 100 million users in the US, UK, and Canada, as reported in their press release from February 4th, 2020. The credit score management component is of such value that Intuit acquired Credit Karma for $8.1 billion last year.
In the race to create the most innovative digital banking app, consumers have already “voiced” the important components in the design and they are basic (product and development teams, stand down) information elements that can be cleanly and easily displayed. Let us look at why digital banking users are focused on these basic functions.
Transaction History. Transaction history is the area of the digital banking app that is used the most, and that makes sense. The transaction history provides the digital user with a simple and efficient listing of their account activity. Direct deposit, credits, debits, checks cleared, bill payment transactions, etc. are included in the transaction history. The activity in the consumer’s account is available in one clean and easy to use screen. Questions such as “Do I have enough money?”, “Did I have enough money?”, or “When will I have enough money?” can quickly be assessed when viewing the transaction history.
Perhaps the most useful feature of the transaction history is its layout. The transaction history screen is a real-time statement. The same information that is included the user’s statement is in the account summary screen. With the real-time ability of the transaction history screen, there is no need to reconcile a statement since all of the information is available as it happens. Is there the ability to enhance the information available in the transaction summary screen without affecting the simplicity of the layout? You bet. That is a discussion for a future newsletter. Hint. Hint.
Remote Deposit Capture. If you were around in the early 90’s, you recall how the ATM machine began to affect the use of the in-branch teller line (yes, people stood in line to deposit and withdraw cash with a human teller). Because of the branch hours, there were limitations on when those activities could be conducted. The long lines at the branch during one’s lunch break, rushing there on the way home from work before the branch closed, and especially waiting in line to deposit your paycheck on a Friday afternoon, were all sure indicators that consumers craved a more convenient way to deposit checks or get cash.
The ATM met that need, but the consumer still had to get the ATM to conduct those activities. And here we sit in the age of the smartphone with digital banking apps that enable a digital user to do everything they could do in a branch or ATM all available at their fingertips 24 X7. What’s that? What about getting cash? That is a topic for a future newsletter. Hint. Hint
The ability to conveniently and efficiently deposit checks is a feature that technology has reinvented as financial services has moved through different distribution channels. Check deposit has long been a primary transaction for the account holder and remains so today. It is no wonder then that remote deposit capture would be a primary feature of the digital banking user. The ability to deposit a check upon receipt at home, work, or on the job makes remote deposit capture a high usage application.
Credit Score. There is so much to be said as to why a consumer would want to monitor their credit score. First and foremost, the credit score establishes how competitive of a rate that consumer can get on a loan or if they can get a loan at all. Many financial institutions also use the credit score as a new account eligibility factor. Forget about the loan, a consumer with a low credit score may not be able to open a financial relationship to begin with.
A second reason for monitoring the credit score is the potential for fraud. If the consumer has not applied for any new accounts or loans, then a declining credit score is usually an indicator of fraud.
Finally, there is the “feel good” factor of monitoring the credit score. A steady or increasing credit score is a sign of financial fitness. Positive results from hard work and disciplined behavior always makes one feel a sense of accomplishment!
Simple. Efficient. Productive. These are the requirements that consumers demand from today’s digital banking experiences. The ability to view and monitor credit score. The ability to view and keep track of transaction history in a simple layout. The ability to deposit checks anytime and anywhere. These are the core requirements of the digital banking application and are a large factor contributing to how satisfied a digital user is with the experience.
Any innovation or product design that makes is cumbersome to access these functions is a move in the wrong direction. Who knows what the next primary digital banking feature requirement will be in the future? The need to get to that feature quickly will undoubtedly be a prerequisite. The digital banking users have shown that the simplicity of the layout is just as important as the function itself.
Now, does anyone have a contact at Amazon or Barnes and Noble who can make the voice activate page turn a reality?