Online Banking Design Succeeds or Fails on Feedback, Details: Citi's Weber

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After Forrester Research dubbed Citi's online banking site the best in the U.S. last week, we spoke with Tracey Weber, Citigroup's head of internet and mobile banking and Bank Technology News' Mobile Banker of the Year for 2012, about the bank's latest initiatives.

"We're feeling good, but there's always more to do," she says. "We did a big redesign in October 2011 and then did a lot of field work last year. We've evolved the design a lot this year in places, especially where we had customer feedback about things that could be played up and optimized."

The developers made the site simpler, cleaner, and easier to navigate, she says. "We elevated a lot of the quick tasks that you do on a regular basis, like paying a bill, without having to continually have to find your way back to the dashboard. We also integrated PFM and account integration into the dashboard."

Citi partners with Yodlee for PFM and account aggregation. "But I think what we did that was different, and that will lead to a better experience for customers, is the integration of PFM into the online banking dashboards," Weber says. "Historically PFM capabilities have been somewhere off in a corner of the site." This echoes comments made by Chris Cox at Regions Financial last week, when he shared how his bank is trying to weave online banking and PFM together.

On Citi's redesigned online banking site, in the lower right-hand corner of the customer's main "dashboard" page is a summary of her biggest expense categories. Users can click through to get to pages that show cash flow, savings goals and progress thereto, net worth analyses and budgeting tools. Customers who choose to use the account aggregation service see their non-Citi financial products, such as a card or mortgage at another bank, mixed in with their Citi account information. "So you really do have a dashboard that has all your current information," Weber says.

Forrester also recognized Citi for its overall digital banking efforts, including tablet and mobile banking. Early in 2012, Citi launched one of the first banking apps for the Amazon Kindle Fire. It was also one of the first banks to come out with an iPad app.

To manage offerings across online banking and mobile devices, Citi is experimenting with responsive design and touch-oriented apps and browser pages. "There's a lot of activity going on there, but I don't think anybody knows the perfect answer for that," Weber acknowledges. "We're just watching it closely. The important things are: what devices are customers using, for what purposes are they using them, and what is the customer feedback, so we understand where the opportunities are and bring that all together."

For its smartphone app, Citi last year rolled out mobile check deposit and Popmoney mobile person-to-person payments. "Being able to choose someone you need to send money to, and issue this from your contacts on your phone, is a pretty easy, cool feature for customers," Weber says. The recipient does not need to be a Citi customer.

Adoption of P2P payments has grown month over month, Weber says. "What's helped a lot is we advertised the capability last year," she says. A series of ads that aired during the Olympics included one featuring tennis players Mike and Bob Bryan using Popmoney. "It is such a new thing and a lot of times when I tell people about it, they think it's not possible that you can pay anyone this way," Weber says.

In Weber's view, paying attention to smaller details of online and mobile banking design can sometimes be more important than being first with a new feature. "We make sure we're constantly updating the experience." In one example, customers complained about an internal scroll bar for listed account information. "We got a ton of customer feedback from people saying they couldn't see their full account information, and we realized they were using the browser scroll bar. We darkened the color of the internal scroll bar to make it clearer. It's a small example, but it really makes a difference."

Citi received the highest marks from Forrester's User Experience and Functionality Benchmark, which evaluated the online banking sites of the six largest retail banks in the U.S.

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