Customer conversion can be a pain point for some of our FS clients.
Previously these large financial organisations never had a problem attracting new customers as competition was low and trust (pre-2008) was high.
Fast forward 10 years and the banking landscape is dramatically different.
One of the major changes that we have seen has been around accessibility. Following active measures taken by the UK government to increase competition (see Open Banking), and the growing availability of technology, consumers now have access to more information and a greater choice of providers.
Despite this changing landscape, the fundamental demand for financial products (current accounts, mortgages, credit cards etc) has remained unchanged, as such incumbent banks are appreciating the importance of customer experience when differentiating themselves from their competitors.
Creating and defining a positive customer is experience is therefore rightfully gaining its place at the forefront of commercial strategy.
Remember: experience starts early. From the moment a customer lands on a website and begins an application form, they are already forming an opinion of the organisation in question.
This initial “experience” is arguably the most important and will be pivotal when it comes to customer conversion.
So how do you increase customer application conversion? Well, after working with some of the largest global banks and innovative FinTechs, I present you with the following insights:
The secret here is to minimise the effort required by customers to onboard. I have reviewed numerous customer application forms which are simply too long and request too much information.
If you are asking potential customers for information which you already have, then don't. If you are asking customers for information that isn't needed, then don't.
Research has shown that reducing the number of fields that customers are required to answer will vastly improve the conversion rate of the application form. So, convert your customer first then ask for additional information later.
Manual form-filling will eventually be a thing of the past.
With developments in new technologies such as optical character recognition, customers can easily take pictures of government issued identity documents to automatically prefill mandatory application information.
We've already seen this technology being used for acquiring card information, but there's no doubt it will become more widespread.
A major constraint felt by financial service providers is the need to comply with greater levels of regulation and checks when successfully onboarding a client. From extensive AML and KYC checks, to requirements around affordability for the purposes of consumer lending, FS application forms can be longer and more cumbersome.
After working with several large international banks, the prevalence of disjointed customer application flows is painfully apparent.
Asking customers to first fill out a long online application form, then requesting them to manually send in proof of ID (scanned passport copies, past utility bills etc) can create long lead times and increases incidences of application drop outs.
With recent developments in technology, financial organisations can now obtain information remotely, allowing customers to authenticate themselves by sharing scans of necessary documentation via desktop or mobile. This model of onboarding has undoubtedly contributed to the success of Monzo and Starling Bank.
There is nothing more frustrating than an application form that won't process due to an error in one of the input fields. This pain point is exacerbated when the applicant is not made aware which of the 20 questions the error relates to. While some customers may exercise a degree of patience and try to figure out the cause of the issue, many will get frustrated and give up.
Work with your users, if information is required to be submitted in a particular format make this extremely clear by giving an example or by providing explanatory text. Furthermore, if the customer has omitted mandatory information in a field, make sure that you clearly highlight the problem so they can quickly rectify the issue; the more obvious you are, the better. Above all, make life easy for your customers. If there is an opportunity to select items from a list of options, then present this appropriately, as selecting from a list is much easier than filling in a blank.
The science behind the design of your application is crucial and developing a clear and easy to follow application journey will do wonders for your conversion rates.
Here at Strategy Desk, we have seen the difference between a convoluted application form with multiple fields, excess information and no clear flow, compared to a clearly designed and intuitive form.
Long application forms with large quantities of text can be daunting for even the most patient applicants. So, creativity is key.
Simple steps such as deploying multi page forms to help break down information in to sizeable chunks will significantly improve the customer experience.
Consider adding a progress bar, and remember white space is your best friend.
Finally, providing your users with a reward after completing an application is a sure way to heighten positive customer experience. Whether it is a discount code or access to a free e-book, customers love being rewarded, and again this is likely to encourage conversion.
So, there you go, proven Strategy Desk insights to positively transform your customer application journey.
And always remember the primary goal of your application form is to offer a seamless onboarding experience!
Margot is our senior editor leading projects in SEO-focused content writing, social media strategies and optimising customer journeys. Prior to joining Strategy Desk, she was a Lifestyle Reporter for a major national newspaper.