Gone are the days when a company’s website was simply a repository for information. Customers expect to be able to fully interact with an organisation when online and at a time that suits them.
Before embarking on a major refresh of our own website, the West Brom reached out to members of the customer panel to understand their preferences, with particular emphasis on using support pages.
Their views reflect experiences from a range of businesses and service providers, not just those in the financial services sector or the West Brom itself.
For those instances where additional help is required during a website visit, we asked panel members how they like to make contact.
Sending an email came out on top (cited by 73% of respondents), followed by making a telephone call (57%). Just over a third (35%) were happy to explain their query over the phone, but expected the company to call them back at a convenient time.
Some 45% of those surveyed said their preference was using a live chat / web chat facility, making this the third most popular option. Out of the total panel sample, 67% had experience of using live chat and most of them liked it because of its immediacy.
Responses were usually ‘instant’ and saved people having to ‘be on hold on the phone’. At busy times when there is a queue, ‘you can do other things while you wait’. A small number also said it was more user-friendly to ask questions via an online chat due to problems such as hearing impairments.
Location, location, location
Thinking specifically about banks and building societies, we invited the panel to offer suggestions for what they would find useful when browsing an online directory of branch locations.
A detailed list of the services on offer was considered most important (67%), closely followed by the ability to book an appointment through the website (57%). Details of where to park and getting directions were among the other ideas put forward.
Finally we asked if people accessed lists of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) when trying to get help while browsing. Most said yes (64%), while a quarter said they would consider doing so. One respondent thought well-written FAQs were ‘brilliant’ providing the company kept them fully up to date.
How this helps us
Recently the West Brom went live with a significant update to its website and the opinions expressed by customer panel members through this survey really helped to fine-tune some of the pages and online facilities.
Firstly we ensured that some of the most popular areas of the website are responsive in their design – this means the page automatically adjusts how it is displayed according to the device the visitor is using to browse. This is especially useful when browsing on the move via a smartphone or tablet. The webpage display will be optimised so all the information you need is clearly visible.
In terms of improved content and features, notable changes include:
- An interactive ‘contact us’ form that guides the user to the appropriate phone number, postal address or email inbox according to the nature of their query
- A new branch finder tool which lists your nearest branches and contains detailed information for each site, such as opening hours, contact details, directions and the facilities available (including access for wheelchair users)
- The ability to fill out an online booking form for a branch appointment
- A series of helpful guides and infographics on the services we offer, plus advice on fraud prevention and online security.
We have also noted customers’ interest in live chat and are currently looking at ways in which such a service could be integrated into our current website.
The West Brom’s Digital Experience Manager, Jamie Bridge, said: “The Society’s website is a key part of our service proposition to customers and we have to pay as much attention to the design and features available as we would do when setting up a new branch on the high street.
“What matters most is that we consider customer convenience at every click, making it easy for people to get the information they want and additional help should they require it.
“Input from the customer panel proved invaluable when drawing up this latest set of enhancements and we hope people are starting to recognise and appreciate the differences.”