Context and Challenges
Bank of Ireland is one of Ireland’s largest retail and commercial banks. The digital revolution in retail banking has brought sweeping changes. Digital technologies have facilitated rapid innovations in payments and general transformation of systems. However, this has forced banks to rethink customer interactions, how they build relationships, and how they attract customers.
Shifting to self-service digital platforms was originally attractive to retail banks to reduce operational costs. However, today customers consider it a fundamental service offering. But the focus on digital service poses new challenges. Face-to-face interactions allowed bank staff to guide customers through products and services, identifying opportunities along the way. How can digital systems replicate and even enhance these interactions?
Our Contribution and Activities
We have worked with Bank of Ireland since 2001 on multiple aspects of their business from marketing communication, transactional platforms, to back-office processing systems. Ongoing research has given us a great understanding of consumer perceptions, expectations, and behaviours. This is key in responding to changes in the market.
We also understand that, as early adopters of technology, many financial institutions are dependant on multiple interdependent legacy systems. The challenge for us is typically to create the best possible user experience, meeting both user and business requirements, within the limitations of the environment.
Bank of Ireland 365 Online
Our redesign of 365 Online in 2010 is a case in point. Restricted to existing functionality, Bank of Ireland wanted to create a world-class online banking system. Originally launched in 1997, the functionality of the system had grown, but so too had its complexity. The user interface reflected back-office systems and technical architecture, rather than how users wanted to use the system. We needed to make the system easier to use and expose its full capability in order to attract new users and to encourage existing users to use the system more. We also needed to create a flexible design capable of adapting to changes in the market, incorporating future expansion of product and service portfolios.
"I can now do almost everything from the accounts page."
Research Test Participant
Through a number of iterations we worked with Bank of Ireland to optimise the online experience. When the service was relaunched in 2011 initial reaction from customers was very positive, many stating that the system was much easier to use. More surprisingly, many expressed that they loved the ‘new functionality’, which was in fact always there, but had been unexposed.
"It’s clear, easy and efficient to use – even login is easier."
Research Test Participant
Shortly after the launch of 365 Online we worked with Bank of Ireland on their mobile banking app. Mobile banking was quickly becoming one of the most significant customer touch points. The key challenge was to align the web user experience across iOS and Android platforms (while maintaining flexibility and extensibility). In the first three months after launch there were more than 160K downloads, three million logins and over EUR 100 million transacted.
We continue to work with Bank of Ireland on projects to improve their products and services, such as using big data to personalise offers, and creating additional value in digital channels such as ‘Service Desk’, which is a secure communication channel within online banking facilitating enquiries from customers.
As financial institutions increasingly become technology companies, we know that retail banking will continue to evolve. We also know that agile, user centred, customer-journey design will play a pivotal role in defining this evolution.
Our work with Bank of Ireland 365 Online received multiple awards, including the Best User Experience at the 2012 Digital Media Awards. It had previously earned an Irish Design Effectiveness Award from the Graphic Design Business Association in 2011.