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Banking, Baby Seats & Big Tech

  • Big tech has set the bar for customer expectations

  • Unsurprisingly, this extends to our banking relationships as well

Handling baby equipment is humbling. Assembling a crib leads to confused stares at manuals and bruised knuckles. The engineering that makes strollers neatly foldable is remarkable but I struggle to pack it into the trunk of a car.

Nothing surpasses the baby seat installation for the title of frustrating experiences. I recently underwent this procedure and what should have taken a few minutes turned into an hour. Though a novice, I felt qualified to blame the manufacturer for designing a product so complicated that YouTube videos became my only salvation. My complaints were peppered with office jargon: the UI for the instruction manual is horrible and this entire UX needs to be redesigned I bemoaned.

In hindsight, Graco was not at fault. After all, securing a child’s seat should not be done in haste. But experience with other companies has skewed my expectations. My Amazon purchases are completed with a few clicks and delivered to my door the next day. Subscribing to a Netflix account is seamless, opening the door to a library which once resided at a physical store. And I can practically solve anything by Googling it, on the spot.

Our relationship with big tech has coloured our expectations. The ease with which we consume Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google (“FANG”) services has set a high bar for everything else. Our patience is razor thin as we have become accustomed to real-time gratification; any delay is viewed as a defect.

Unsurprisingly, this extends to our banking relationships as well. If a service isn’t delivered near-instantaneously, we compare to FANG and complain. Take account opening for example where financial institutions are criticized, perhaps rightfully, for not offering an app-based sign up that can be completed in under a few minutes. Heaven help those that insist for forms to be filled out in-branch.

UK challenger Monzo recently fell victim to tech expectations. The BBC reported that customers were prevented from accessing their funds due to suspicions of money laundering. Though Monzo must freeze the accounts in those circumstances and is legally precluded from explaining why, it nevertheless suffered a hailstorm of negative press because of the time it took for some to be reopened. The manner in which they responded to inquiries probably didn’t help, suggesting a homeless shelter as an alternative to a customer who couldn’t pay the rent.

This seems unfair as the situation is no different at other financial institutions. The requirements apply uniformly and delays are common. Monzo was singled out because it provides its services exclusively via mobile, falling into the FANG standard sphere. The CEO even appeared on a podcast to defend the company’s actions, an uncommon practice at any bank. Granted, being barred from funds when the rent is due or the fridge empty causes unimaginable anxiety. However, the media capitalized on expectations to sensationalize a common occurrence elsewhere.

The Point Is

Though digital banking may be a relatively novel form of delivering banking services, customer expectations have already been established. As financial institutions embark on their transformation journeys and even create new mobile-only brands, they should expect to be judged by the standards which apply to FANG and big tech rather than their peers.

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