Friday, January 18, 2008

Confusing Customer Experience with Design

Usability and UX in banking ...

"Vox, a customer experience consulting firm, recently released a study entitled Banking Mind Model Study, labeling it as a “customer experience analysis of consumer banking industry websites.” By claiming that it’s a study of customer experience, they are both overreaching (they only examine the bank’s home page, not what’s behind the login button) and misleading (banking mind model and customer experience are more complex than looking at home page heat maps and element distribution.)

The study looks at the home pages for several national and regional banks, and provides a score for usability and what they call a Mind Model Representation, which is a fancy way of saying a composite website of all banking websites — a Frankenstein of bank home pages. What a composite website has to do with customer experience, especially the customer experience of actual online banking and not just browsing a bank home page, is a mystery. The study is based on the following premise:

Analyzing the front door of a customer’s experience offers insight into user expectations from one side and a company’s focus and strategy on the other.

And this is the primary failure of the study. It boils down customer experience for online banking to a user’s first impression of the site. Usability experts disagree on many things, but what they do agree is that customer experience is the byproduct of the entire customer lifecycle and all their interactions with the company online and off. It’s also consistent with Jeff Bezos’s quote about a company’s brand: “It’s what customers say about you when you’re not in the room.”

The weakness of the usability findings are reflected in the study’s methodology when they cite that page scaling, search function and error messages for forms were the “noticeable improvements in usability.” This sounds more like a feature checklist around accessibility than usability. The study also cites industry trends like mobile banking and online banking, but offer no insight or analysis into either. Instead, the study mainly emphasizes the value of good usability practices by citing figures from Jakob Nielsen around the ROI of usability and customer experience."    (Continued via Banking Unwired)    [Usability Resources]

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