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Account Alerts: Discover Card Helps Users Visualize the Options

image We are approaching the 15-year anniversary of the first retail banking account alert. Britton & Koontz Bank was the first to offer them in the summer of 1996 (note 1). But alerts didn’t become widely available until a few years later. 

Back then, you’d be lucky if you had three or four different alerts to choose from. And of course, there was no such thing as a mobile alert.

Today, banks and card issuers offer a dozen or more alert types capable of going to multiple email addresses, multiple mobile devices, or even to your land-line via voice message. Consumers are better served overall, but the wide range of options can be confusing.   

One solution is to use default selections. Users can select their preferred profile, and the bank establishes a set of recommended alerts. This profile selection could be made during online banking registration. For example:

  • Normal alerts
  • More alerts
  • Less alerts

Another helpful practice is to show examples so users can visualize what they are signing up for. Discover Card uses this technique in its card-management area with popups that show both the email and text-message version of each alert type (see screenshot below).

Alerts are a vital part of online and mobile banking, so take time to educate users on the appropriate mix (note 2). It’s also a great topic to cover in your blog or Twitter feed. 


Discover allows users to review samples of each alert type (28 April 2011)

Discover Card allows users to review samples of each alert type (28 April 2011)

1. Signet Bank was the first major to offer email account alerts. We covered it in OBR 22 (Feb 1997).
2. For more information on alerts and messaging, refer to this Online Banking Report published in 2003.