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Don’t tell me to do this or do that

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I had a few recent experiences that showed me how bad developments are in the digital world today. One was trying to cancel a subscription to a news app and, when logging in online, couldn’t find anything to show me the answer. The second was my bank who changed my international bank account numbers but didn’t tell me. I could list many, many more, but these two were stand-outs.

In the first instance, I got an email that showed I was paying $10 a month to subscribe to a service I didn’t want or use. I then spent half an hour trying to login to the service to cancel said subscription, and could I find the right place or button to press? Could I hell. It then occurred to me that when you get a message – whether an email or any other confirmation of a service – there should be an immediate one-touch swipe to accept or reject such service.

In the second instance, I had a client who told me that my bank codes (IBAN and BIC/SWIFT) were being rejected by their bank. I rang my bank and asked what was going on? They said that they had changed my bank codes three years ago, but only started to reject overseas payees this summer. They didn’t explain why they changed the codes – maybe it had something to do with Brexit – but told me a letter was sent in the post. Didn’t I get it?

Again, I sat there astounded thinking how come you don’t highlight these changes in the app? I open their app two or three times a day – because they’re so rubbish, they don’t alert me to anything – and cannot believe that there was never a message saying YOUR ACCOUNT NUMBERS HAVE CHANGED. A letter in the post? Who reads a letter in the post? Even if you do, did I get that letter? I don’t think so.

In both instances, it just made me think: how come email, online, apps and other digital services are so fragmented and don’t work well? It should be one swipe from an email to a decision; it should be a headline in flashing lights in an app, not a letter in the post.

There are many other examples of such bad services but, rather than belabour the point, what I’m trying to get at is how digital is not done. Yet. Even companies that claim to be digital are not digital. Their email does not link to their online which does not link to their app. This is as true of the companies we perceive as being digital leaders – Apple and Amazon – as those we see as being digital immigrants – most banks and Wal*Mart.

What they don’t get is that I want the ease of swipe on all of my access forms, not just in their app. I want the ease of finding an answer to be as simple as saying do this or do that to Siri and Alexa. I want the simplicity of digital service in every form, not just in the form you’ve given me.

It’s a tough call for companies who have been adding digital to their original form factors. After all, if you added digital as a channel, it's pretty obvious you cannot swipe and interact effectively, but even companies we call digital have many design faults. What we need is simple access to everything. That will be the differentiation between companies that win and lose in the future. If I can just say do this or do that, you will get my business. If your email and letter in the post say that I have to do this or do that, hmmm, you’re going to lose my account.

#Justsaying (again)

Chris Skinner Author Avatar

Chris M Skinner

Chris Skinner is best known as an independent commentator on the financial markets through his blog,, as author of the bestselling book Digital Bank, and Chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club. He has been voted one of the most influential people in banking by The Financial Brand (as well as one of the best blogs), a FinTech Titan (Next Bank), one of the Fintech Leaders you need to follow (City AM, Deluxe and Jax Finance), as well as one of the Top 40 most influential people in financial technology by the Wall Street Journal's Financial News. To learn more click here...

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