‘Simplicity’ common mistake in financial services

‘Simplicity’ – one of my favorite word and value – seemed to become a new jargon in financial industry. Banks strive to get customers’ attention emphasizing how simple their product is. Well spotted, friend. Yes, we want a simple bank product. We have so much options to choose from, we get so many messages and a lot of other important things to deal with.

But what banks don’t get is how to simplify the communication itself!
Take this example – a direct mailer I received in my mail box.
It came with the cover title – ‘Simplified banking with one account’. Hm… Let’s take a look.

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I don’t see how this can simplify my life. How does this detailed decimal point numbers help me to understand how this product work for me? Most of all I don’t ‘feel’ simple.

There are three things I suggest for banks who really want to convey the meaning ‘simplicity’.

1. Sell the ‘concept’ first before features
Don’t get caught up with the detailed feature at this stage. This is one of the common mistake banks commit in product communication. Based on my number of research & design in simplificiation projects in product communications, I learned that two basic questions need to be answered first.
– what’s customers’ problem or concern that needs to be addressed
– how this product can help
This seems to be a common sense, but not commonly practiced.Detail features can only come after above basic is underrstood by the customer.

2. Leave out the obvious
Understand the context when this communication is used. Do customers really want to know about their internet banking that seems to do a standard thing as that of other banks? Is this a key driver to make a decision to open a new account with this bank? Of course not.
Ruthlessly leave out those clutters that doesn’t support customers’ decision making process. Make your key message stand out. Simplicity lies in the ruthless focus. Do one thing well if you want to sell.

3. The look is the message
Greatly care how the communication ‘looks like’ and ‘feel like’. Banks tend to ignore the important emotions in decision making process. Demonstrate simplicity through your communication. Banks need to heighten the design sensitivity and aspire to bring up the quality of look & feel.
Yes, the look is the message.

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