On visits to my local bank, I’ve seen older patrons enjoying their chats with smiling tellers while other customers wait impatiently in line behind them. While some people might look forward to the opportunity to get out and connect with people in the local community, for most of us, it’s a chore. Thankfully, my bank allows me to do all of my banking from the comfort of my couch—in fact, these days, most financial institutions do. A variety of online banking services make it easy to check balances, transfer money, deposit checks, and even get personalized consultations regarding more sophisticated products from a computer or mobile device.
People of all ages are flocking to these simple online solutions for their financial needs—but the solution isn’t as simple for some as it is for others. Crafting a digital banking experience that is effective for a full range of users, including baby boomers who may be facing certain impairments as they age, requires focusing on the end user and understanding how best to enable them. A focus on usability and accessibility increases adoption by older demographics.
Many banks and other financially-focused businesses are failing to craft a digital strategy that effectively serves baby boomers—in large part because they’re not sure where to start. Accessibility consulting can provide financial services organizations with a plan for optimizing their websites and mobile properties—including self-service options—with baby boomers in mind.
The Role of Baby Boomers in Financial Services Innovation
Fifty percent of individuals over the age of 65 have some form of impairment. As financial institutions increasingly bring their services online, more and more people from this demographic seek to embrace online banking and other self-service sites for a range of finance activities.
What steps can finance companies take to ensure that their websites are ADA compliant and friendly to those who may be challenged with some disability? Investing in this area now will lay the foundation for both long-term compliance and brand loyalty.
Optimizing Self-Service Portals for Baby Boomers
Conduct an accessibility assessment.
The first step for any financial services organization looking to meet the needs of baby boomers involves conducting a full accessibility review. What self-service tools does your financial organization provide, and what barriers to accessibility exist for users with vision, hearing, cognitive, or physical impairments?
Older demographics may struggle with vision loss that makes reading small text difficult, changes in color perception that throw contrast ratios into the spotlight, a decline in hearing that makes listening to audio a challenge, or motor control challenges that make spacing and placement critical.
An experienced consultant can conduct a comprehensive assessment of your self-service offerings with these issues and more in mind. By understanding the experience you are trying to deliver and the possible challenges faced by those with different abilities, it’s possible to develop a customized action plan that focuses first on areas which need immediate fixing, followed by a longer-term plan to put inclusivity at the heart of future development.
Evaluate compliance guidelines that affect your services.
There are a variety of different guidelines financial services organizations need to be aware of regarding accessibility. It’s becoming a mandate for public-facing services to be fully accessible, and banks must be prepared to implement accessible online services. Current federal, state and local guidelines—as well as new regulations that are expected to go into effect in the next few years—will determine what steps your institution must take in terms of accessibility.
From complying with the upcoming federal Title III web accessibility guidelines (expected to take effect in 2018) to addressing local regulations such as the recent NYC accessibility actions(opens in new window), it’s important to be aware of how quickly-evolving regulations impact your business.
Select a knowledgeable partner.
Enterprises rarely have the in-house knowledge or experience required to fully address their accessibility needs—your expertise is focused elsewhere. By selecting a knowledgeable partner, it’s possible to harness their command of regulations, compliance, specific types of disabilities and how they impact the user experience, and the technology and strategy solutions available to support wider inclusivity.
An accessibility consultant can evaluate your websites to determine where there are opportunities for improvement. They can also evaluate your underlying infrastructure, future development plans, and business requirements to identify what steps you can take to support enhanced inclusivity. Whether you need to change your information architecture and data tagging to better support screen readers used by the visually impaired, or develop a baseline accessibility policy for all future web design projects, a knowledgeable partner can design solutions that best fit your business.
Making Web Accessibility Part of Your Planning Process
Web accessibility planning—and the insights from web accessibility consultants—are most effective when they are integrated into your organization’s standard practices. A relationship with the right partner will help you develop the tools needed to optimize customer experience with accessibility in mind long into the future.
As the baby boomer population continues to age, more individuals will encounter various impairments—our job is to ensure they also encounter online platforms and tools that account for and mitigate any difficulties they face. Financial services firms that anticipate and serve these varied needs will have the best opportunities to grow their customer base and to retain their existing customers in the decades to come. If you’re ready to explore how to make web accessibility part of your planning process, contact us today to arrange for a consultation.