Continuous and miraculous advances in the digital sphere — cloud computing! big data! the internet of things! — lead us to have a high bar for digital experiences. So it’s particularly surprising when there are mainstream services out there, in this case a retail bank, that seem to have missed the memo on the integration of the internet into their core business.
Recently I was looking for information about how to report a missing debit card (since found, thankfully). Late one evening I logged onto my bank’s website, through which we manage all our family’s banking transactions. I went to the FAQ to look for something like “lost/stolen debit card” and found all this:
I scrolled through the FAQ, which continues for pages, before realizing why I couldn’t find what I was looking for. All the questions pertained to online banking, i.e., how to use this website instead of actual banking questions. When I finally called the support line listed on the website, the person I reached could answer only questions related to online banking. All the help text and call center staff training were geared to questions like “which browser can I use?” or “how can I to export statements to Microsoft Money?” (a software package discontinued in 2009). To resolve any issues related to actual banking, like a misplaced debit card, I would need to go to a branch or call a different telephone number that the “online banking” person dutifully read off to me.
Many of us live and work in an internet echo chamber, where we’ve been trained to view the internet as a set of capabilities that can enhance and extend traditional businesses, or create entirely new ones. Reading this FAQ was a stark reminder that [tweetable]there are still whole industries out there with a 1996 mindset[/tweetable], where digital is a discrete channel positioned as a segregated use case rather than a realization of the core business.
Despite the many “flying car” advances we see, there are still lagging businesses in desperate need of internet integration. The dramatic juxtaposition brought to mind this tweet:
The true promise of the internet of things—the singularity, more or less—is not having to adjust my oven clock for daylight saving time.
— Zach Seward (@zseward) November 3, 2013