Scotiabank, Fifth Third, SunTrust: Amazon, Apple inspiring UX

The popularity of Amazon Prime and Apple is forcing bankers to rethink user experiences, industry practitioners said at Bank Innovation Build.

With the growing adoption of digital banking platforms, user experience specialists said human experiences should underpin digital product roadmaps, with technology performing a supporting role.

“Technology is an enabler, but user experience design provides meaning to technology,” said Andy Vitale, head of user experience design at SunTrust. “It’s about going to the actual person and involving the people that use our products — all of them — and making sure we’re finding out what their needs are.”


See also: BofA, Prudential: Retail is setting a standard for customer expectations in finance

The bankers noted that big tech platforms are influencing the design of mobile app experiences. Despite concerns around the overreach of tech platforms (the so-called “creep factor”), customers are increasingly asking for banking services to be intertwined with the social networking platforms they use every day, said Shawn Rose, executive vice president and chief digital officer of Scotiabank.

Apple, Amazon and Google already provide bank-adjacent activities. We’ve learned pretty significantly from that industry,” he explained.

Rose referenced a recent example where Scotiabank updated its app and removed a feature that allowed users to see their account balances as soon as they opened the app. The bank removed that feature in an app update, assuming faster performance overall would eliminate the need for the quick balance check feature.

Following the removal of the tool, the bank noticed an uptick in the number of negative reviews, forcing it to add the quick balance check feature again. The example highlighted the need to avoid seeing user experience design from a product-centric perspective. Instead, banks need to focus on customer needs, and build empathy into the design process, he explained.

From Fifth Third Bank‘s perspective, advice from other industries facilitates a better design process. According to the bank’s lead design catalyst Dan Mecher, Fifth Third’s design team recently consulted a corporate storyteller from Procter & Gamble and the director of visitor experience at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, on user experience best practices. In addition, in user feedback surveys, Fifth Third queries customers on the how banking apps compare to other direct-to-consumer digital platforms.

“We’re not just competing with the bank across the street anymore, it’s the customers last best experience,” said Mecher. “We’re asking them ‘What are your favorite apps to use? What’s the best product experience that you’ve ever had, regardless of industry?'”