In a blog post today, Simple announced some more UX goodness is being added to its web application (and eventually all updates will migrate to their mobile iOS app).
Merry Early Christmas (or a little late happy Hanukkah). Here’s a quick break down.
They first announced something a little different, something more of us should really pay closer attention to – onboarding. It sets the tone, and if the initial experience goes smoothly, it makes the first six months of activity, cross sell, and long-term retention just that much easier. As most Simple fans are aware, they are attempting be as Apple-like as possible – attempting to simplify the traditional banking experience, from the way you request an invite to the way you receive your initial debit card (Bank Innovation’s JJ Hornblass does a good job of covering that here).
New users are now being invited to view an introductory video (you can see it below) and walk through an introduction to their applications. They focus on how they can “help you use your finances to tell your story.”
That in itself is nice, but it’s the idea behind the video I really like (and would hope they continue to pursue…it would be great to see them do customer videos along this vein).
Think about the concept for a minute. Transaction data telling a personal story. It’s intuitive, yet for every PFM or banking technology provider, what do we do instead? We force our customers to fit their “story” into our parameters.
We dictate how you can edit transactions, set alerts, add notes, and interact with your own data. And it’s so obviously wrong.
Simple added a bit more than a renewed focus on new users and a video this week.
“In Simple’s web app, you can now drag and drop an image or PDF to attach it to a transaction. Upload your receipt so you don’t have to carry it around with you (perfect for business trips), or take a photo of your meal or the friends you were with to remember the occasion.”
Why haven’t we seen this in the transaction data stream before? We’re not talking Wells Fargo’s eVault, Simple is adding a data capture point for any type of upload…images, PDF, receipts.
Lots of startups and bigger tech players are tying image of receipts to help with bill pay (see the US Bank-Mitek partnership)…but this isn’t just about helping with bill pay or expense tracking…it’s adding customization to make financial transactions more meaningful…more customized. We should all take a look at this. With data becoming more and more visual (and mobility adding visualization functions all the time), this could be commonplace very shortly.
Simple continues: “Attach a movie poster to your ticket purchase, or album art to a music purchase. It just looks cool! Select a transaction and click “Edit” to try it out! Coming soon to mobile.”
I love it. It’s like Pinterest or Instagram in your banking application. They should change the linear layout to look like Flipboard…just flip through your transactions today.
The way personal data is changing in every other vertical, and through mobile, is fundamentally opposite of how we build most banking applications today…we lock down customization, the ability to for the user to add and shape, and play with their data.
It’s no wonder most banking and finance applications are so boring.
And it’s also why things like I’ve talked about (connecting social sharing and online/mobile finance applications data, adding social contacts and authentication to applications) are often looked at with skepticism. Don’t ask me about banking and the 4th screen or IFTTT (if then, then that automation of finances). Both are coming. But I digress.
Why has it taken banking so long to figure this out. It’s the customer’s data. We are simply stewards of that data, so let’s open it up a bit…let’s personalize these forms of transaction data…let’s offer more than bar charts. Let’s exchange some value for it by opening up the possibilities of its use, from visualization to personalization. Let people “build a personal story” around their data, much like they would in Facebook, or Pinterest, or other social channels. Even if it’s just for their use…it makes this data more meaningful. And something we want to play with more (just ask the gang from MoneyDesktop).
But wait, there’s more.
“Simple is all about helping you manage your finances by providing context for your transactions. We aim to make it a lot easier to remember when a transaction happened, and where you were by mapping your transactions and including exact timestamps.”
“But maps have never really made much sense for online purchases or monthly bills and subscriptions. To help with this, in the transaction view, you can now see helpful information like recent purchases links and customer service phone numbers for vendors like Amazon, iTunes, and lots more.”
Again, seemingly simple, and obvious. We see it in other services now all the time. But not in banking applications. While more and more PFM apps are showing a bank or merchant logo to help visually identify transaction data to vendor, none have taken the extra step of providing immediate access to contact data for merchants in this way. Take a look.
Simple throws in a couple of more things, again mirroring standardization in most applications but rarely seen in banking interfaces.
“If you like editing and adding notes to your transactions as much as we do, you’ll be happy to know that you can now edit multiple transactions simultaneously.”
Nice addition, not as earth shattering as the others, but most banking applications do not currently allow for notes to be added at any transaction level.
There is one more thing (and excuse the rambling).
If you aren’t a Simple customer, here’s what the mobile app looks like in the App store:
A Simple customer recently got into a bar fight with Wells Fargo on Twitter.
At the end of November, Twitter user Tyson Gach went off a bit on Wells Fargo by comparing their mobile app to that from Simple.
I won’t tell you how I caught wind of this (no, I don’t have time to troll Simple or Wells Fargo’s Twitter feed every day), but all I can say is that the folks at Simple are proud of what they have accomplished (and should be).
Take a look.
After several tweets, Wells Fargo finally responds.
I’ve written about Simple’s approach to Twitter and transparency before, but it’s nice to see users stand up in social media to what they consider an average user experience by a big bank. The team at @AskWellsFargo did their best to politely take the feedback. But Tyson, a web designer out of New York (and presumably a Wells and Simple customer), was relentless. And his comments were spot on frankly.
Knowing strategists and developers at both Simple and Wells Fargo, I can tell you they are equally working toward improving the customer experience and adding better functionality.
But with the updates today, Simple’s application delivers a knock out blow.
It’s not even close.
While not everyone thinks Simple will make as big of a dent in the banking universe as I do, you have to admire what they are putting together.
“We never sit still here at Simple. Every day we’re updating, tweaking, building, fixing, and polishing all the tools that make Simple the best way to save and spend.”
Happy Holidays to Simple and to their focus on User Experience.
It Matters. It Always Will.