Consumer-initiated Decisions During Online Account Opening: The Consistency Game

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When online account opening is a consumer-initiated decision, it usually means that the consumer has done at least a little research about different products and has chosen the one that is best fits their needs. Because the consumer is applying online, they have easy access to search engines and other resources to help them find the product they are looking for.  No matter the line of business, the consumer has made their way through the maze of web pages to the financial institution's (FI's) doorstep and is ready to participate in online account opening. This is the point at which the FI needs to show the customer that they are consistent in their messaging, promotions, and communication across channels to facilitate online account opening and ensure the customer has a positive experience. 

Consistency of Messaging

Brand identity is essential to any business. It creates awareness of the brand to the public and can even create emotional reactions when used correctly. In the financial industry, there are many different channels that consumers use, so it is important that the messaging and "feel" of the FIs brand is the same across every channel. It would create brand confusion if a consumer used the branch 100% of the time and when they decided to try and open an account online, they barely recognized their bank's identity. If they are about to make a consumer-initiated decision to apply, this may cause them to change their mind and abandon the idea of using new products and channels.

Consistency of Promotions      

Let's create a scenario: A college student walks into a bank branch and makes a deposit into their checking account. They notice a sign that advertises a student credit card that is offering a low APR. The customer leaves the bank without inquiring about the offer. Later in the week, the same customer decides they are interested in applying for the low APR student credit card so they go online to the bank's website to view the details and apply for the product. How would this particular customer's experience be affected if they weren't able to access the offer from their desired channel? Depending on the customer, they may not be willing to go back to the branch to inquire about the offer when they clearly preferred online account opening.

Communication Consistency

Many things can come between a customer and the online account opening process. Usually, customers access online banking at home or on their mobile devices which means they are in a completely different environment than a bank. If they start the process of filling out an application for a product and they are interrupted, they should be able to save their progress and come back to it at a more convenient time. Not only should they be able to log in to their account online to complete the application, they should be able to use other channels to complete the application that started online. If a customer has a question about some required information, they may feel more comfortable sitting down with a banker or customer service representative to complete the application. It is important for the customer to have those options in case online account opening isn't working for them.

During consumer-initiated decisions, it is essential to the customer's experience that they are able to utilize the channel(s) that they prefer. Those preferences can change quickly (even in the middle of an application) so FIs need to integrate their channels well in order to accommodate those changes. Each channel's messaging, promotions, and communication needs to be consistent so consumers feel comfortable and well taken care of.

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