Friday, US Bank <usbank.com> began using a new design for its email alerts. It has a softer, more modern look to it (see before and after screenshots below). The layout and copy are identical to the previous version.
The new look arrived about the time we intended to post a rant about the lack of creativity in bank messaging. One of our examples was US Bank, which had sent us the same basic confirmation message more than 1,000 times over the past three years.
While it's good to see an improved design, it's still pertinent to note that there is more to the lack-of-creativity argument than just the font and background colors. The problem with email alerts is that after receiving them two or three times per week for several years, many users may ignore them. To keep that from happening, financial institutions need to upgrade their messaging system; let's call it Alerts 2.0.
Here are some important features of Alerts 2.0 (for a detailed look at bank messaging, see Online Banking Report #91/92) :
- Educate about preference changes: Once or twice per year, perhaps more frequently for those receiving a large number of alerts, remind customers about the types of alerts available and how to change them.
- Provide periodic summaries: Someone getting six alerts each week would likely appreciate a weekly summary of all changes.
- Change the "look & feel" periodically: Don't wait three years to change the design. Create a template so that the alert design can easily be changed to fit the season or holiday.
- Gently cross-sell: Alerts should be kept primarily factual. But every once in a while, most of your customers would appreciate a low-key "reminder" of relevant services, such as overdraft protection, credit report monitoring, and so on.
- Give thanks: As trite as it sounds, don't forget to thank the customer, at least every once in a while. For example, you might add a thank-you when receiving a large deposit (or ANY deposit for that matter). Also, a periodic "thanks for participating in online banking" and/or email alerts would be appropriate. This would also be a good time to ask for feedback on the service.