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Part 6 of 10: Categorize fields and ask tough questions last


Categorize fields on an application form into:

  • Know it (Information customers know easily like Date of Birth, Phone Number).
  • Get it (Information that must be retrieved. but the location is known like Driving License).
  • Find it (Information that has to be found like details of the previous year’s tax return).

 And ask for the easier information first and the tougher information later.

All things were not created equal…and that applies to the questions on an application for a bank product.

A typical bank application form will have 20 to 60 fields of information to be completed. And very often, they’re laid out on the application form with little consideration to what’s going to be easiest for the consumer to complete. In many cases, the digital application for a bank account is a reflection of the screens of the core banking system. And the core banking system was designed around bankers, not consumers.

So, what is the right order for fields on an application form for a banking product?

We recommend a 3 step process as follows:

  1. Capture a Lead

    So – as you’ll remember from previous posts (“Capture and Nurture Leads” AND “Two Paths to Purchase for Different Products” – add hyperlinks) we advocate generating a lead at the earliest appropriate point in the customer journey – so get Name, Email and Phone early.

  2. Use Prefill

    If your customer journey offers prefill services (Photo ID Capture, Account Aggregation/Open Banking, Mobile Carrier Prefill), do this early to maximize the amount that’s prefilled and show the customer there’s light at the end of the tunnel! (See “Steer customers to the path of least resistance” with hyperlink)

  3. Classify information in to “Know it / Get it / Find it and ask tough questions last”.

    Look at all the remaining fields of information on the application form (Address, Date of Birth, Employment Details, SSN, ID Document, Answers to AML Questions etc.) and classify it in to information people

  4.      a)  Know – Things they intrinsically know like their Date of Birth, Email Address, etc.
  5.      b)  Need to Get – Information that most people don’t know-by-heart and must get, but they know exactly where it is like details of their Driving License.
  6.      c)  Need to Find – Information that customers have to think “where is that…?”

                 And, where possible, ask for the information in that order. Know, Get, Find.

Let me provide an example. An executive recently took a role with a new bank and felt (understandably) it would be appropriate to apply for an account and his new bank. Sitting on his sofa with phone in hand, he started applying. The application went like this.

  1. First Name
  2. Middle Initial
  3. Last Name
  4. Date of Birth
  5. Driving License Number…

And at this point he stopped. His wallet was in a bowl on a table by the front door to the house (just like Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, he has a bowl. And his keys and wallet go in that bowl so he knows where they are when leaving the house.

But he was on his sofa…and decided to abandon thinking “Oh, I’ll do this later.”

The problem with this design was that he has only entered Name and Date of Birth before being asked to “Get” something. He wasn’t invested…so he abandoned. Later realizing this was a design flaw in his new employers account opening experience.

What if the account opening was…

  1. First Name
  2. Middle Initial
  3. Last Name
  4. Email
  5. Phone Number
  6. Home Address
  7. Date of Birth
  8. Social Security Number
  9. Citizenship
  10. Employment Status
    Everything above here is “Known”…now he has to “Get”
  11. Driving License Number
  12. Driving License Expiry Date

By the time he has to “Get” his license, he’s invested in completing the application and more likely to get off the sofa.

So, when designing your next application for New To Bank Customers or Credit Union Members – classify the information you need in to Know It, Get It, Find It and ask tough questions later in the flow (and watch your completion rate rise!).


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