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Citibank Searches for the Ultimate Customer Experience

Tracey Weber, Citibank's head of Internet and mobile banking for North America consumer banking, says the look and feel of Citi's new online banking website are just as important as its underlying functionality.

This past fall, New York-based Citibank ($1.9 billion in assets) rolled out a revamped online banking site, citibank.com, to improve the user experience. To find out about the thought and work that went into the redesign, BS&T spoke with the bank executive who led the effort, Tracey Weber, head of Internet and mobile banking for North America consumer banking.

To view a photo gallery depicting the redesign of Citi's online banking experience, including before and after images of the website, visit banktech.com/citi-redesign.

What were the drivers behind the redesign of Citi's online banking site, and what were the bank's goals for the project?

Weber: It was in response to customer feedback that we got about the web experience and just really wanting to have a more simple experience for our consumers. We had almost 100 links on the homepage, making it very hard to think about what you want to do when you see the page. The new citibank.com homepage is much more streamlined. It features better use of color and rich imagery, so it makes you feel good in addition to being simple and easy and intuitive.

We hadn't redesigned our website in some time. We've obviously been updating it with new capabilities and functionality, but we've never taken a holistic design approach to it. In fact, that's something that the financial services industry needs to do more -- think about how design is impacting the user's experience in addition to having all of the necessary capabilities. You've got to be able to make a payment, make a transfer and do all of those things; but how it all looks and feels and how you navigate it are, frankly, just as important to driving consumer satisfaction.

What are some of the other big changes to Citi's online banking site?

Weber: In addition to changing the look and the feel and the design, there were a couple of other important things that we did. On our marketing pages -- our public, nonsecure pages -- we rewrote all of the content about our products and services with the goal of moving it from an informational tone to more of a conversational tone, replacing a lot of the banker-speak with more friendly wording that puts customers and clients at ease.


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We also added two other pieces of functionality that will be hugely valuable to our customers. One is this concept of Quick Tasks -- once customers log in, they land on a dashboard that has all of their account information. That's similar to what we had before, though with a new look and feel and design. But before, if you wanted to do a task, you had to work through the top navigation, making multiple clicks downward to get to a page where you could actually take action. With Quick Tasks, you take action right from the dashboard. So when you click on Quick Tasks to pay a bill, for example, an overlay comes up right on top of your dashboard -- you haven't really left the dashboard, it's just kind of greyed out in the background -- and from that overlay you can do everything you need to do to pay that bill. And then you're right back at the dashboard as opposed to being down somewhere within the site and needing to navigate back to the main page.

The second piece we added was a financial tools section, which is essentially integrating personal finance management capabilities into our site.

How long did the redesign and rollout process take?

Weber: We started it in earnest last year in the late third quarter or early fourth quarter. We initially focused just on the design, and we did a lot of usability and customer research associated with it at different points in time throughout the development, making sure we were integrating in feedback from consumers as far as what they liked and what they didn't like. We tweaked it along the way.

What did the website redesign require from an IT standpoint? Did you have a team dedicated to the project?

Weber: We did have a dedicated IT team working on this because it was such a large effort. For the most part, dedicated teams produce more focused results. There was a very large component of work on the business side as well, so we wanted to make sure that we were doing this in partnership as opposed to writing a set of requirements and throwing it over the fence to the IT team and waiting to see what came back. This was very much an integrated effort with lots of joint working time.

What were the biggest challenges you faced during the redesign process and rollout?

Weber: It's always challenging when you're evaluating usability and getting consumer feedback. It's absolutely an essential part of the process, but sometimes it can be hard to determine what to do based on the feedback. As you might imagine, there are times when it's inconsistent. That can be difficult. You want to be as analytic and data-based as possible in your decisions, but a lot of times it has to be coupled with some intuition on behalf of people who've had a lot of experience in creating web experiences. We've been continually trying to balance that one challenge throughout the whole effort.

How have your customers reacted to the redesign?

Weber: One of our best sources of data is our call centers -- what they hear from customers who call in. The feedback there has been positive. We haven't had a lot of calls from customers who are struggling with the new experience. We've been very happy about that. In fact, it has enabled us to roll it out faster. The public, nonsecure pages were rolled out to all of our customers and prospects right away. But the logged-in experience we've been rolling out over time to chunks of customers. Our goal was to finish that by the end of the year, but we're finishing early. That's actually a sign that we didn't get a lot of things we had to work through. Everything has been very stable and customers have been able to adapt.

What's next for Citi in terms of its online and mobile offerings?

Weber: We'll continue to evolve the web experience, and we have a lot of work going on in mobile and tablets as well. The usage patterns of our customers are changing; they're using all of these channels. We want to make sure the channels smartly work together and that they're consistent from a look, feel and navigation perspective, while recognizing that different form factors have different purposes -- but it doesn't mean they should feel like completely different experiences. We're doing a lot of things to bring them together while upgrading them in their own ways as well.

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