Even though there is still ground to cover, Digital Banking CX/UX (Customer Experience/User Experience) has made significant leaps forward in the last decade. 10 years ago, UX used to be more of a creative function of product development, complementary, always shadowing the technical teams.

But things have changed, and they have changed for the better. Product leadership is now UX-first and not in the sense that ”we need mockups to start implementation”, but in a more strategic manner, with more weight on user research, information architecture, prototyping and others.

When it comes to CX evolution, Banking is one of the more exciting areas. Digital Banking has been here for a while, but there are fewer community-level insights, best practices and case studies available than in other domains (for example, eCommerce). This means that banks are still free to innovate on CX and deliver better experiences than their competitors.

To conduct an objective comparison, we analyzed similar user journeys from all banks: Customer Onboarding and Loan Origination Flows. Being that these journeys are fairly linear, we looked at a very specific set of CX areas, and our analysis will place more weight on aspects more important to flow-type experiences than general UX. Here are some thoughts on the key areas:

  • Friction - onboarding journeys must be fast and painless. The most objective measures are the number of taps/clicks and input fields, but additionally, we have looked at how much of the content presented is essential for the user to complete the journey, with regard to supportive content (tooltips, info boxes) and regulatory content (disclaimers, compliance approvals). When it comes to separating the top from the rest, we see that reducing redundancy is a key focus - less redundant information shown, less redundant information requested from the customer
  • User Centricity - bankers speak banking. But consumers don’t. Banks have challenges not only in translating their lingo but also in their processes in a way that makes sense to consumers
  • Simplicity - notice that in Friction, we did not mention “# of steps”. That’s because, when it comes to complex flows, fewer steps usually lead to more cluttered screens with dozens of input fields and scary banking information that will inevitably increase drop-offs. Also, an area where most banks still fail is documents. Most banks are putting efforts into incorporating PDFs in the flow better, while PDFs are, by nature, a clear invitation for the user to exit.
  • Delight - onboarding a new customer or getting a loan is not necessarily fun. But why shouldn’t it be? Or at least be as pleasant, engaging, and even rewarding - ultimately, consumers’ banking decisions are usually tied to meaningful moments and things in their lives. Why make it a boring or, even-worse, bug-ridden experience, especially when neo-banks are actively proving that banking can be delightful?
  • Clarity - in this case, we might look at previous points to cover clarity but wanted to specifically add it to the list to address the actual interfaces for the products we analyzed. Many have used colour, white space, typography, and even clever pre-selected options to help their customers make easier decisions.

Some banks do lose points on transparency by trying to force clients into decisions they might not want to make. We call them dark patterns, and customers don’t appreciate them.

Overall, the results are exciting and optimistic. Every bank has its own individual take on UX and this means that things will continue to evolve in the right direction for consumers. Some key recommendations for banking CX in Romania moving forward;

  • Focus less on competitive differentiation - As other domains have shown us, best-in-class CX is about delivering the experience consumers expect, not throwing in everything and the kitchen sink just for the sake of competitive differentiation.
  • Focus more on consumer expectations - bring in more user research, both early on in the project lifecycle but also as a continuous activity. Customer-centricity is the most important area of successful UX, especially when it comes to acquiring new customers.
  • Incorporate FinTech innovation sooner, faster - there will be a point at which differentiation from UX design becomes unfeasible. When that time comes, the value proposition of traditional banks cannot be limited to traditional products. Consumers will already be used to (and expect to) get more in exchange for their pledge to become a customer.