In an effort to improve the convenience of online banking for customers, PNC Bank has recently upgraded its AccountLink by Web offering and will soon go public with new features to its site that will allow customers to have a link between banking and brokerage accounts.
In addition to its upgrade on online bill payment services, Pittsburgh-based PNC's current changes to its AccountLink Web site (www.accountlink.pncbank.com) include a money-moving platform, where customers can move money from a line of credit to their checking or savings accounts, as well as an online loan application. PNC uses a new ASP version of technology from CheckFree (Atlanta) for its online bill payment feature, but the platform used for balance transfers and money movement was designed internally.
Martin Evancoe, senior vice president and director of consumer e-business at PNC, says the upgrade and the upcoming changes being implemented to brokerage and banking services represent the biggest investments PNC ($328 billion in assets under management) has made to the site to date.
"We invested a lot both in people...and technology in particular," says Evancoe. "This is probably the single largest release we've made to AccountLink, ever." AccountLink by Web will allow customers to have the ability to manage their accounts by transferring balances from checking to savings and now brokerage, all in one place.
Customers in the Loop
According to Evancoe, PNC customers typically play a major role in the presentation and design of new products by participating in consumer feedback opportunities, and this initiative was no exception. The bank runs a "human factors" lab where current and prospective customers come into a laboratory and are filmed testing products. Management then evaluates the results and identifies the products that received the best feedback. And, in fact, the upgrade to the Web site-a six- to seven -month project-was made based on customer feedback and online surveys where customer comments were solicited.
"We also regularly survey our online customer base, where we find out what they think is missing and what they'd like to have," Evancoe says. "That's a very formal, quantitative survey and all of those feed into our project plan. It validates that there is customer demand for these services, not just the capability to do something technologically, but it has to have demonstrable customer demand."
Evancoe feels that PNC's approach to Internet banking is different from that of other banks because of the capability customers have to see and manage their credit products, savings and brokerage accounts in one place.
PNC is also looking to increase its number of Web-based customers and to make conducting transactions easier, Evancoe says. "It's all about making the bank easier to do business with," he explains. Some of the popular uses of AccountLink include information gathering and account management. Evancoe says there has been an increase in the site's traffic ever since PNC introduced self-servicing features, in July, that give customers the control to transfer funds, re-order checks, and also change their addresses and phone numbers on the site.
There has been a tremendous amount of positive feedback concerning the current changes to the site, Evancoe reports, adding that PNC is still incorporating changes to make the site more convenient for customers.