It’s ‘Major Facelift Time’ for Online Account Applications

Financial institutions need to radically streamline and simplify their online account opening forms. And it doesn’t really require any new technology, just a new way of thinking

by. Jim Marous

Despite changes in technology and the ability to manage data, relatively few modifications have been made to the bank and credit union new account opening process, either in the branches or through online/mobile channels. The order of questions asked has stayed virtually the same as they were years ago, with the number of required fields actually increasing as opposed to decreasing like you might expect. Nay, on the contrary: it hasn’t become simpler or more streamlined as time has passed; it’s become more complex.

This has resulted in a cumbersome, sometimes confusing process that results in many consumers giving up. For those who do trudge ahead, analysts at Javelin Strategy & Research say that online applications are frequently riddled with inaccuracies, resulting in a frustrating experience for everyone — consumers and the institution alike.

A few banks are trying to simplify the new account opening process by leveraging social channels like Facebook. Others are trying to follow the ultra-streamlined processes introduced by neobanks like Moven, Simple and GoBank. Most institutions, however, are stuck in the mud with old processes.

Leveraging recent research done in the retail industry, banks and credit unions can see there is indeed a way that the number of fields on a new account form can be significantly reduced, whether that’s in the branch or through online/mobile channels. For starters, the overall application process could use better “guideposts” — little interactive cues and well-placed tips designed to keep the process moving forward. Many of the suggestions are surprisingly logical.

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