When good banking turns bad

Posted on August 6, 2010

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I used to have no reason to moan about using my bank online.  I never had a reason to cheer about it either.  The experience was *fine*, which was fine.  After all, I don’t really need to be wowed by nice graphics when I’m paying a bill, I just want to pay my bill with as little fuss as possible.  Who in their right mind actually enjoys interacting with their bank account?  I suppose I might if I win the lottery, but with odds of 49x48x47x46x45…x2x1 :1 I know, even with my limited maths, that it’s never likely to happen – which is a shame.  And, even if I did enjoy looking at my bank balance, which I don’t, what Lloyds Bank has just done to their online banking website would strip the fun away pretty quickly.

So, why am I moaning about Lloyds Bank?  As I’ve already mentioned the old experience was fine, it worked.  It wasn’t pretty, but it made sense, was quick to use and of critical importance, it worked!  I could make a payment in full confidence that the payment would happen.   Then they improved things…

Lloyds Bank

Doesn't it look pretty, but it doesn't work.

They launched their new site and on my first interaction with it, probably a week or so after it launched, it quickly became apparent that they had done something very wrong.  Presumably they had tested the site before launching it on their customer base, but on the evidence of my experience I suspect they might have cut the budget for the testing phase of the project.  I can’t imagine they tested the site in a more scientific or rigorous fashion than I might test that the contents of my wine glass is actually wine and not grape juice – or in this instance gripe juice.

The problems are  many.  First of all, I couldn’t log in.  The site would time-out, which isn’t very reassuring if I’m honest.  Then if, on the fifth attempt, I did manage to log in half of the images would be missing and if I clicked a link then I would be rewarded with a blank page.  Was I going to attempt to make an important payment (my credit card) using their new improved site – not a chance!  A week or so later I used the site again and actually managed to log in, although it was a bit like wading through concrete, I even managed to look at my statement.   They had turned it upside down!  Why would they do this, were they trying to make me think that my balance actually goes up every time I take money out?  It’s not that big a deal, but neither is the idea of switching around the pedals in a car, but I wouldn’t say it’s a great idea.

Is there a lesson here?  In short, yes.  It’s simple – when you design something you need to put the ‘user experience’ at the heart of every decision.  You also need to test what you’ve done and ideally test it with people that resemble your audience.  Going into the wilds of the Amazon and asking a tribe, painted from head to toe in the innards of a wild bore,  what they think about your new site will get you some answers, it might even get you eaten, but it’s unlikely to get you the right answers.  I can’t imagine Lloyds tested their site with any existing customers, and in isolation if you’d never used the old site, you might think the new site makes sense – but you have to understand people’s existing experience and expectations and include that in your thinking.

Am I going to change my bank because of this, no I’m not, but I’m not going to recommend them either.

Don’t just take my word for it, here are some other people’s views on the changes.  In marketing terms, I am just doing my citizenry duty of being a ‘problem mushroom’.

p.s. At lunch I saw this advert:

Lloyds Tsb Billboard

So, I just tried to sign up for the Lloyds mobile banking app and got the message:

“We are sorry but your Apple iPhone is not compatible with this service.  To use Mobile Money you may need to upgrade your phone.  We support most recent phones, for more information please visit monitise.co.uk”

Need I say more?  iPhone’s are not current enough for Lloyds mobile banking app.  What do you need, an iPad?

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Posted in: Bad marketing