Banks can use customers’ search queries to create a more efficient, optimized user experience.
Most marketers rely on search engine optimization to drive traffic to their website, missing a crucial opportunity to optimize searching on the site itself. But on-site search optimization is a critical component of search and self-service for customers, and is a way that banks can create a better experience for users.
Search engine optimization, or SEO, focuses on attracting new visitors to a website. On-site search optimization addresses the existing and returning traffic base—a bank’s current customers and prospects. This approach helps them find helpful and relevant content once they are on the site, which is as important as getting them to the website or mobile application in the first place.
A growing percentage of customers use digital channels to interact with banks and require intuitive search and easy-to-find support information. Banks will benefit from delivering superior on-site search functionality with actionable support answers on their websites and mobile apps.
Transforming a bank’s website, mobile or online banking applications into a true digital support center involves more than a simple search bar. Search terms and activity can be used to inform the support content strategy, while monitoring customers search queries ensures a bank is providing the most sought-after answers across its digital and mobile channels. This continuous process directly impacts an institution’s customer experience, service levels and operational efficiency.
The top 25 search terms across banking websites in 2019 included:
|1. Routing Number||10. Direct Deposit||19. Mobile Deposit|
|2. Overdraft Protection||11. Rates||20. Login|
|3. Order Checks||12. Address Change||21. ACH|
|4. Skip Payment||13. Loan Rates||22. Stop Payment|
|5. Online Banking||14. Debit Card||23. ATM|
|6. Wire Transfers||15. Check Card||24. Mortgage|
|7. Credit Card||16. IRA||25. Bill Pay|
|8. Open Account||17. CD Rates|
|9. Account Number||18. Hours|
Customers’ search patterns in a bank’s digital and mobile channels differ the terms used in a search engine platform such as Google or Bing, according to data from SilverCloud. Searches on banking websites and apps average 1.4 words per search, compared to four on search engine platforms. On Google, people search for “the best checking account for me;” on a banking website, they use broader terms like “online banking.”
Two factors drive this search behavior. First, banking consumers are already on the desired site, so they use more narrow search terms. Second, financial terminology can be confusing and unfamiliar. As a result, customers who lack knowledge of specific banking terms tend to use broader search terms to home in on exactly what they need.
There are five takeaways for banks that are interested in how top search terms can help them grow more efficiently:
Banks need to deliver a better customer experience. Having a strong on-site search engine allows customers to service themselves in a way that is easy, fast and efficient.
Strong search could reduce call center volume. Having robust content, frequently asked questions and support answers allows customers to get answers without needing to contact call center agents.
Provide support as mobile adoption increases. Customers will have more questions as banks introduce more self-service options, like online account opening, mobile deposit and online bill pay. Banks should anticipate this and have support answers in place to facilitate faster adoption.
Create opportunity and invite action through search. Banks can drive deeper customer engagement into various product offerings by writing actionable support answers. For example, the answer for a search query for “routing number” could include information about what customers can do with a routing number, like set up direct deposit or bill pay. This approach can increase the likelihood they take such actions.
Banks can do more with less. The more that customers use self-service digital and mobile channels and find information that addresses their queries, the fewer employees a bank needs to staff customer service centers. Institutions may find they can grow without adding a commensurate number of employees.
Banks should review their digital channels to ensure they are providing support content that addresses the ways customers seek information. Content around general search terms needs to be robust. Executives will need to keep in mind that most search terms require 10 or more custom answers to address the transactional, informational and navigational forms of customer intent.