Being able to access your finances and purchase goods and services when we want to is a basic right. This means that when it comes to banking, and paying for goods or services online, it is imperative that the service is accessible and inclusive for all.
According to the Australian Network on Disability (AND), over 4 million people in Australia have some form of a disability, that is around 1 in 5 people, and based on World Health Organisation global figures, there are over one billion people living with a disability.
In 2015, it was reported that 36% of people use their smartphones for banking and finance, and that figure is likely to have risen. It’s important to remember that people with disabilities are more than just community members; they are consumers, employees, and investors too.
So it isn’t just about making banking technology accessible for people with a disability – it’s about making sure that websites are accessible to the age groups. Therefore, it is imperative that barriers are removed so that inclusion in your business’s services is accessible for all.
What is currently being done in the world of banking and accessibility?
In 2008, the Business Disability Forum launched The Technology Taskforce in the UK, a Partner initiative which brings together large, global ICT procurers and suppliers including Barclays, American Express and Sainsbury’s. It is co-chaired by Peter Josse, CEO of Barclay’s UK banking group, a financial institution that is publically dedicated to accessibility. The sole purpose of this taskforce is to ensure that technologies do not disadvantage disabled customers or employees with best practice and a universal user-centred design approach.
Here in Australia, the financial and banking institutions cater for the entire population, be it children with school saving accounts, teenagers saving for their first car, young families with a new mortgage or older Australians saving and managing their retirement funds – banks need customers.
In recent years with the proliferation of digital channels, banks have been quick to see websites and mobile apps as efficient ways to do business and reach a broader customer base. They are beginning to understand what Barclays and Lloyds Bank in the UK have pioneered for years… and that is if you create an accessible and user-centred experience then you WILL reach a broader customer base and customers will want to work with you.
When banking is inaccessible, complaints will be made and the bank will lose out on customers. For example, in 2014, The WestPac Banking App received complaints about its inaccessibility.
Most Australian banks still have some way to go before accessibility permeates all their digital experiences, both internal and external. However, as long as we all remain customers, irrespective of our ability, age, culture or technology choice, banks will need customers.
The benefits and ROI of accessible banking
Due to many technology advances in recent times, such as Smartphone capabilities and screen-reading software, technology offers greater potential for providing accessible services for banking customers with a disability. And this has occurred in the past for banks such as Lloyds Banking Group embracing web accessibility.
We have put together a list of the main benefits and ROI of accessibility for financial institutions:
1. Enhance the customer experience
A company that supports the needs of its customers and makes sure that its focus will see its reputation, differentiation, and loyalty increase from satisfied customers. A satisfied customer will furthermore share with others. If a customer can’t access your services and products then they simply won’t use them and instead switch to another provider.
“By considering the needs of everyone, customer-centric innovations can emerge which offer more inclusive products and services benefitting everyone in the community”, say Darren Baird and Steve Price of the ANZ.
2. Reach new markets
Consumers gravitate towards products and services that have been created to be universally accessible and appeal to the broadest possible audience. Due to rapid developments in technology, customers have a wide variety of choices when it comes to banking. This means that customers may tend to switch from provider to provider. As a result, it is important for banks to be creative and agile in order to connect with new markets and maintain customer loyalty. Accessibility is a way that a bank can differentiate from another bank. It allows banks to reach out to a broader range of customers, including the aging population and customers with a disability.
3. Better technical ability
When digital applications and websites are created with accessibility in mind, the code is built to defined access standards and is easier to read and understand, meaning changes can be made more efficiently.
4. Less risk of having to do a costly retrofit later on
When accessibility is integrated within development there is no requirement for costly retrofitting or further web development to fix accessibility issues. It ensures that the company maintains its awareness of changing requirements of accessibility among all the other ever-changing requirements within financial services.
5. Greater efficiency of digital channels and service delivery
Digital channels are most cost effective when they are accessible. Inaccessible digital applications and content online lead to a need for alternative ways for customers to access services and information such as phone and face-to-face customer service. These alternative methods are likely to be more costly to operate and can be more inaccessible, depending on a person’s disability.
There are endless reasons for accessibility, but if you as a provider are focussed on offering your services to as many people as possible, then it is important to dedicate resources and efforts to accessibility. That’s because accessibility is a business transformation opportunity that essentially ensures that customers have access to the best quality of services and goods.