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02:27 PM
Prandeep Bhanot, Compuware
Prandeep Bhanot, Compuware

Are Banks Prepared for the Tablet Revolution?

Considering the overall end-user experiences the top U.S. retail banks are delivering to their customers who own tablets, the resounding answer has to be no.

With mobile banking continuing to gain traction, financial services executives have high hopes for banking via tablets. But the reality is that many of the top U.S. retail banking websites are providing poor performance (speed and availability) on tablets which has a direct impact on customer behavior.

Consumers expect lightning-fast websites, regardless of whether they access a site from a desktop PC, mobile phone or tablet. However, tablet users have extremely high expectations when it comes to website performance: almost 70 percent expect a website to load in two seconds or less.

Tablet users represent a coveted target audience. A strong customer interaction in the form of a good web experience can lead to easy upsell opportunities such as opening new accounts or wealth management services. While many banking institutions are beginning to deliver innovative, quality experiences to their smartphone users, based on the current experiences they’re delivering to their customers who own tablets, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

Compuware’s studies have shown that the average download speed of the top 15 U.S. retail banking websites on an iPad is not even close to the established two second threshold most consumers are willing to wait before growing frustrated and abandoning a site. Recent analysis also revealed the average bank’s website availability on the iPad is as low as 95.8 percent -- or one day, six hours and 14 minutes of downtime per month.

Why is it so challenging to deliver quality web experiences on tablets?

Banks today face a complex and ever-changing task when it comes to understanding and managing the performance of business critical applications. Mobile computing and the proliferation of tablets are contributing to the increasing complexity of delivering optimized end-user experiences. The challenges of modern application delivery and the increasing complexity leave banks with little to no visibility into whether or not mobile services are available and performing optimally for all end users.

In fact when we look at the top 15 U.S. retail banks, thirteen deliver websites designed for a laptop or desktop computer (i.e. broadband, fast hardware, keyboard and mouse interaction model) to iPad users. These banks hold the erroneous belief that by delivering full website content to tablets, they’re delivering a quality experience. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

On average, sites delivered to iPads are significantly larger and establish many more HTTP requests than sites expressly designed for iPhones. Yet both devices operate on the same constrained wireless and mobile networks and the only major difference between the two devices is the screen size. It’s no wonder that download speeds on an iPad can be painfully slow.

To optimize your site for tablets, you can’t just deliver full website content and assume that everything is ok. Banks need to follow some of the same rules that apply to optimizing sites for mobile phones and the wireless network, like reduce “heavy” or unnecessary site content (i.e. graphics).

In addition to considering speed and availability, banks also need to pay closer attention to tablet users’ interaction model – fingers are very different to pointers and mouse clicks. Sites should be optimized for touch; for example, important and frequently used links should be spaced relatively far apart on the page.

While banking on tablets represents a major opportunity for customer engagement and loyalty building, banking websites that are slow for tablet users and don’t meet their performance expectations will result in lost customers and revenues.

If banks want to take advantage of the coveted target audience of tablet users, they need to understand how their customers access and use their sites and applications in order to capitalize on every single interaction and deliver tablet-optimized content that not only adapts to the device on which it is accessed, but also the network used to connect to the web.

Pradeep Bhanot is a Senior Product Marketing Manager for APM SaaS and Mobile solutions at Compuware.

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