Sometimes you stumble upon just the right kind of information when you least expect it. This was the case when I read the recent report, ‘User Experience in the Banking Sector’, from Usabilla. I wasn’t surprised by the subject of the report, but rather the content. In place of the fancy, streamlined, corporate-sponsored, scientific studies I’m used to reading was this compilation of opinions that goes right to the heart of User Experience (UX).

Usabilla explores the issue of UX with eight large banks that provide personal banking services in the US, the UK, and Europe. The banks are: Royal Bank of Scotland, Bank of America, Barclays, Chase, Citi, Wells Fargo, HSBC, and Deutsche Bank. (Usabilla is a web-based usability testing tool that allows marketers to collect visual feedback on their website quickly. They’ve got customers including Discovery, LinkedIn, and Disney and are based in Amsterdam.)

The study was based on the opinions of customers. It had a total of 400 participants and was able to collect the kinds of information that might get lost in the numbers with other studies. Key findings include a distinct feeling from the customer of a difference in priorities between them and their bank, issues with trust for consumers, insufficient information when it comes to critical banking needs like stolen credit cards, ‘busy’, confusing, impersonal, or just plain useless, web pages, and a lack of easy access to customer service. To be fair, there were also positive comments.

Overall, the opinion-based report helps to pinpoint specifically, and with feeling, what the issues are that need to be addressed for Banks to connect more effectively with their customers who gave feedback such as this:

“I am not impressed with the ability to find where to call for a stolen credit card. I would probably try to look this information up on a smart phone and I would need it to be very visible.” – Barclay’s user.

“It feels really busy. Maybe hide some of the info below the note until you click on what you want to see.” – Wells Fargo user.

“Good structured site, no suggestions for improvement.” – Royal Bank of Scotland user.

“Seriously? Some random irrelevant stock photo of a blond woman is the focal point of the entire page? Distracting, stupid, takes up too much space.” – Chase Bank user.

Perhaps what I find most interesting about this study is how clearly it illustrates the importance of customization to personal banking users.  Read it yourself to see if you agree.