Maintain accessibility in banking channels

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Digital-First Banking February 2022 - Find out how banks can focus on digital accessibility to engage customers with disabilities

The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of the banking industry, but many consumers still prefer to bank through physical channels, especially customers with disabilities. Given the range of disabilities, from sight and hearing to cognitive impairments, creating digital channels that serve all customers can be particularly challenging.

Miranda Capra, director of inclusive design at financial services company Truist, explained that various accessibility tools are built into mobile devices to help people with disabilities. However, to take full advantage of these tools, financial institutions (FIs) need to know how they work and provide content that works for them.

“We created a design system with modular components, like radio buttons, checkboxes, images, and input fields, which were carefully checked for accessibility for people with disabilities and disabilities,” Capra said. to PYMNTS in a recent interview. “This includes text alternatives for people who can’t see images or colors and keyboard support for people who can’t use a mouse.”

FIs have several sources of guidance on designing digital channels for accessibility, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), an international reference created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. Capra said WCAG is also set to expand to provide guidance for more technologies.

Listening to customer needs

However, the best advice FIs can receive often comes from listening to customers.

“Our approach to product design at Truist is guided by our purpose and strategy – to create experiences that put customers in control of their finances without depending on others, to help them live happier lives,” Capra said. “We make sure our products are relevant by listening to our customers – understanding how they manage their finances and using their bank accounts, their pain points, their unmet needs – and using their feedback to find ways to improve or streamline our product offerings and improve our customer experience.

This approach, she said, ensures FIs can create digital channels that not only meet the banking needs of customers with disabilities, but also enhance their banking experiences.

Stay accessible in the digital age

Making digital channels accessible to everyone is vital, but FIs still need a robust omnichannel approach to scale for all customers. The promise of technology is great, but FIs need to know how much customers depend on various channels, including physical ones, to meet their needs.

“Technology, done right, can act as an enabler, allowing customers who can’t drive to the bank or customers who can’t read a paper statement to hear it read aloud,” said said Capra. “But digital isn’t always the right channel, which is why our journey transformation specialists look at all parts of a customer’s interaction with us – across digital, branch and phone – ensuring that all aspects of the experience are well designed and [that] transfers between channels are fluid.

That way, she said, the channels that best meet customers’ needs are always available to them.

Make the team work

To meet everyone’s needs, FIs must optimize the accessibility of each banking channel, making it a fundamental aspect of every product and service. This means that the teams that create products and services must have the appropriate training and information.

“We ensure that all teams that design and create digital banking experiences receive accessibility training appropriate to their role: design, development, content writing and product management,” Capra said. “We also have accessibility specialists involved in the design of our next generation of branches.”

Disseminating this knowledge throughout the organization, rather than relying on a single department to monitor compliance, can make accessibility an integral part of how FIs do business. An IF that focuses on creating the best experiences for customers will include accessibility for disabilities the same way it would ensure a product is usable by anyone else.

“Good usability is good accessibility,” Capra said.

Interacting with any channel should be made as easy as possible for any customer, and a product designed, tested and deployed with this in mind will ensure the best possible experiences for everyone.

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