The impact of poor digital experiences and unavailable customer service on application abandonment

30th March 2022 - 7 min read

The impact of poor digital experiences and unavailable customer service on application abandonment

We all know what it feels like when something doesn’t just work, it can be really frustrating. At some time or another we’ve all abandoned an online application or basket because its too complicated or unintuitive. So it comes as no surprise that 75% of consumers will not complete a transaction if they encounter an error, while 65% said they trust a business less when they experience a problem using a website or mobile app. 

And poor digital experiences can cost businesses a lot of money, too. If an online experience doesn’t work as expected or is difficult to understand, users will quickly get frustrated, give up and find alternative services. They would rather find another online service that is easier to use than have to go to a physical location or make a phone call, particularly for younger customers. It is even more damaging for new customers; online businesses are rarely given a second chance because in the digital world competitors are merely a click away. 

Yet while having a slick UI and UX are vital to the digital experience, we must not forget the human interaction as well. Wait, isn’t digitisation and online experiences supposed to remove human interaction? The answer is yes, but not completely. The purpose of digitisation is not to completely remove human interaction, but reduce the number of mundane, repetitive tasks and activities for people.

The impact of poor digital experiences on application abandonment

It’s no secret how important customer experiences are. In fact, an estimated $1.6 trillion is lost each year due to poor customer service. Specifically when it comes to online there are many stumbling blocks for businesses, and including for banks and lenders.   Some of the most common ways customers become frustrated are:
  • Slow loading pages
  • Unclear application process
  • Poor search results
  • Manual parts of the process (like posting forms)
  • inability to find human assistance when needed
It’s not just new users. Bad online experiences negatively affect even the most loyal customers. Digital experiences are sometimes so bad at banks that loyal customers would rather physically go to a branch than deal with the online process. This is particularly true for bigger transactions like mortgage applications or applying for a loan. It’s reassuring to talk through it with someone and to know your information is going into the right hands. Especially if part of the process involves going into a bank anyway, like a typical mortgage – why waste time filling an online application when you can just do it all in the branch? If it is overly complicated to do things online, it is easier to go talk to a real person and get answers than to deal with a slow online experience.

The impact of unavailable customer support on application abandonment​

The inability to find how to access human assistance is a common cause of online frustration. We have all experienced the annoyance of trying to find a contact phone or email address online, spending hours going in circles trying to find something but coming up empty. Why do companies make their contact details so difficult to find?

The answer of course is because of costs; many larger companies want to discourage customers from calling about simple questions because it costs more to deal with the higher volume of calls (more staff, higher wages). The details are hard to find in the hope that a customer tries to find their answer in an alternative way, through looking at online FAQs for example. 

Even if the customer does find their answer online after trying to find a contact, they’re likely very frustrated by this point. It has led to a poor digital experience for the customer. 

It is interesting to compare some of the newer digital companies, to some of the larger more traditional ones. Digital focused companies such as Revolut and Klarna are able to handle most of the common questions and concerns digitally without very much fuss, but when it comes to traditional banks, which started out as brick-and-mortar companies and so where the digital presence is secondary, it results in a very difficult experience. You’ll need to speak with a human much more often at a traditional bank versus a digital-only bank.

Solutions to reduce application abandonment

It might sound like common sense but improving customer experiences and making it easy to contact customer support when assistance is required is really it. While the goal of digitisation is to enable processes to be done online, banks do not need to completely remove human interaction; in person help is not the enemy here. The sign of a great digital customer experience is being able to quickly and confidently find the answers you are looking for, mainly through digital means, but if not, with the help of a real person. This could start with an online FAQ that opens in a new window as you’re filling out a mortgage application, for example, or it could be a chat box that connect you to an automated AI-powered chatbot. And if those options don’t work, then it absolutely should not be difficult to find access to a real-person representative via a phone number or email address. The key is removing the uncertainty and allowing customers to help themselves. But when all digital resources have been exhausted, it should not be difficult to get human help.

Therefore, there are two challenges banks and lenders need to meet:

  1. An automated process that is easy to use minimizes consumers’ need for human assistance; and
  2. An automated process that seamlessly integrates human assistance when it is absolutely necessary to do so.

Takeaways to reduce application abandonment

A digital experience does not have to mean that there is absolutely no human interaction. However, for the best experiences, it is ideal to have a smooth and slick digital experience that keeps the need for human intervention to a minimum. That involves thinking ahead of all the different scenario types, removing common roadblocks, having a robust FAQ section and ensuring that processes are straightforward and easy to understand. 

However, when that process fails, it should not be hard to find human help, via a chatbox, phone line, or otherwise. Automation does not need to mean unhelpful and banks should take heed of trying to remove any human interaction from a digital experience, all for the sake of costs. 


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Poor digital experiences put us off even if it’s a brand we know and trust. Even worse if we need to reach out to follow-up or for assistance and there is no way to talk to a real person. This can result in us feeling frustrated and usually rather than continuing most of us will find an easier alternative. A smart digital experience makes the most of all the available tools such as chatbots, FAQs, and optimizing UX. However, there will always be some scenarios where some of your customers need to reach you, in this case making customer support easy to contact is helpful. 

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