The complexity of your banking website shouldn’t add to that stress.
To compete for your business and reduce the cost of maintaining physical branches and staff, banks continue to offer more online features and improve the experiences on desktop and mobile.
To understand the current state of the banking user experience, we benchmarked the desktop user experience of six top personal banking websites:
- Bank of America (bankofamerica.com)
- Chase Bank (chase.com)
- PNC Bank (pnc.com)
- TD Bank (tdbank.com)
- Wells Fargo (wellsfargo.com)
- US Bank (usbank.com)
We collected SUPR-Q data, including NPS data, and investigated reasons for using the website, attitudes toward the website, and how well people understood key terms and features. We also supplemented the empirical data with two analytic UX methods to dig deeper into what’s affecting the metrics. The first is a guideline review using the Calibrated Evaluator’s Guide (CEG) and the second was a PURE analysis, where evaluators estimate how difficult tasks would be for users. More details are available in the downloadable report.
Benchmark Study Details
We recruited 602 participants in August 2018 for perception and usability studies. For the perception study, we asked 418 current personal bank subscribers to reflect on their most recent experiences on their banks’ websites.
Participants in the study answered the 8-item SUPR-Q (including the Net Promoter Score) and questions about their prior experiences.
For the usability portion, we asked 184 participants to complete two tasks—to locate the account fee for a basic checking account and to find the nearest branch to a provided zip code. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the six personal banking websites.
Quality of the Banking Website User Experience: SUPR-Q
The SUPR-Q is a standardized measure of the quality of a website’s user experience and is a good way to gauge users’ attitudes. It’s based on a rolling database of around 150 websites across dozens of industries, including personal banking.
Scores are percentile ranks and tell you how a website experience ranks relative to the other websites. The SUPR-Q provides an overall score as well as detailed scores for subdimensions of trust, usability, appearance, and loyalty.
For the perception study, the scores for the six personal banking websites were mostly above average—including several with high scores. Between them, the average SUPR-Q is at the 84th percentile (scoring better than 84% of the websites in the database). TD Bank has the lowest SUPR-Q of the group with a score at the 65th percentile. Chase Bank leads the group with a score at the 92nd percentile.
Usability Scores & Trust
For the perception of the usability of the banking websites, Chase Bank also has the highest score of the group (at the 92nd percentile in the perception study and at the 77th percentile in the usability study). TD Bank has the lowest usability score in the perception study (62%) and US Bank has the lowest scores in the usability study (31%).
It’s hard not to trust the organization that handles your money, and consequently, participants rated their banks high in trust and credibility, and all banks in our study scored between the 76th and 95th percentiles. Interestingly, Wells Fargo has the highest trust scores despite being the subject of several fraud scandals.
Loyalty/Net Promoter Scores
Personal banking websites have an average NPS of about 16% in the perception study and –31% in the usability study. Banking websites may not be the sort of thing people recommend, but we know many banks use the NPS as a key metric for their websites. These NPS scores are higher than social media and health insurance sites.
Use of Personal Banking Sites & Mobile Apps
As a part of this benchmark, we asked participants how they accessed their bank’s website and the activities they attempted on their last visit and in the last year. Mobile usage is high for banking. About half (45%) reported using their bank’s mobile website and 64% used their banks’ mobile app in the past year. This is substantially more than the 8% mobile usage rate reported in health insurance websites.
Not too surprisingly, checking account balances and recent transactions was the most common activity, reported by 62% of participants on their last visit and 86% in the past year. Transferring or depositing funds was another popular goal for participants with 77% having attempted it on the last visit and 13% of participants in the past year.
While the top tasks were the same across desktop and mobile, participants reported being more likely to use the desktop interface over the app to check their balance, make transfers, and manage credit cards. The mobile app was used more to find a local branch or ATM. More details on the mobile app experience are available in the report.
Difficulties Finding the Right Information & Understanding Jargon
Almost a quarter of participants said the top reason for disliking the personal banking websites was poor navigation, which made it difficult to find the desired information.
- “Sometimes I feel like it does not provide an adequate and comprehensive profile information page.” —Bank of America user
- “I wish that the website had an easy to find and use search function. Sometimes it can be hard to find specific information about Chase accounts and rates that I am looking for.” —Chase Bank user
- “With the layout, it is a little difficult to find where certain features are. It could have some categories at the top navigation bar. Other times, it would be somewhere at the sidebars or in the middle of the website.” —Wells Fargo user
While some terms may be ubiquitous in the industry, participants still struggle to understand common banking terms. When we asked participants to describe common banking terms in their own words, 28% were unable to define the term “Variable Rate” and 42% were unable to define APR.
Calling Customer Service
Taking calls is expensive for the bank and time consuming for the customer. Twenty percent of respondents reported calling the bank’s customer service line in the last year. Getting the right information without calling customer service was one of the key drivers of UX quality; it alone explained 8% of the variation in SUPR-Q scores.
One of the top reasons people call? Login troubles. Remembering usernames and passwords and the often-painful process of resetting these resulted in 29% of participants calling in. Other common reasons for calling support included making a payment or transfer, updating address or personal information, and getting answers to common questions, like this participant said:
“Not all questions listed on the website have very detailed answers. For further clarification, I usually have to call customer service, which takes too long.” —Wells Fargo participant
All the reasons can be found in the downloadable report.
Finding Account Rates and Fees
Comparing rates and fees was a main weakness across all the sites. We observed participants looking for and either missing or misinterpreting account fees in four of the six banks we tested.
This led to lower task completion rates, especially for Bank of America, where less than half (42%) could find the checking account fees. An example of a participant looking for (and likely misinterpreting) the fees is shown in the video from MUIQ below.
Video Example 1:
Finding a Branch or ATM
Finding a local branch or ATM was the third most cited reason for visiting banking websites and a key driver of the user experience. Participants had higher task completion rates and higher SEQ scores for finding ATMs than checking rates and fees, but it still presented problems for a few participants in our usability study.
For example, on the TD Bank website, a few participants encountered an error message and one struggled with the autocompleted zip code (see the video below).
Video Example 2:
An analysis of the user experience of six personal banking websites found:
- Banking websites offer above average UX. Current users find their banking website experience above average, with SUPR-Q scores falling at the 84th percentile. TD Bank scored the lowest but still above average at 65% and Chase Bank leads the pack at the 89thpercentile. Mobile apps and mobile websites are more heavily used in this industry.
- Finding fees and locating branches are common, but not necessarily easy tasks. One-third of participants reported visiting banking sites to open accounts or learn more about accounts. We found participants struggled to find and interpret checking account fees as they were buried in small text or used confusing terms. Users reported using their mobile devices more for finding the nearest ATM or bank branch and our usability study found fewer issues with this experience.
- It can be hard to avoid calling customer service. Customers don’t want to call the bank and they don’t want you to call them. Unfortunately, some 20% of participants reported having to call customer service on their last visit to their banks’ website. Finding information online without calling the bank is a key driver in predicting SUPR-Q scores. The main reason for calling was having trouble logging in (the usual suspect).