WaMu Heads For Simplicity: Follow!

In the American Banker last week, there was an article called Web Simplicity Initiative Bearing Fruit for WamuAs an example of Washington Mutual’s (WaMu’s) focus on simplicity, the article described changes that WaMu made to the online application for its free checking account– cutting the process from 8 pages & 15 minutes to 3 steps & 6 minutes. And to eliminate the need for mailing forms to new customers, WaMu uses the first check as a signature card.

I really, really, really liked the this quote from Richard Blunck, a senior vice president and WaMu’s director of e-commerce:

Simple, for us, is critical

My take: Simple is critical for just about every bank (along with just about every investment firm and every insurer). Many customer-facing processes are based on outdated requirements, overly complex business rules, old technology, and organizational silos that discourage innovation. The result: A complicated experience for customers.  That’s why there’s enormous opportunity for financial services firms to apply a principle that I call ultrasimplicity, which is one of the Five Distruptive Customer Experience Strategies that I’ve written about in previous posts. 

The bottom line: When it comes to financial services, simpler is almost always better.

About Bruce Temkin
I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, marketing, interaction design, customer service, and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (CXPA.org), a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

2 Responses to WaMu Heads For Simplicity: Follow!

  1. Marua Buechler says:

    What a joke – I am removing all of my accounts because of just the opposite experience with Wamu. I hung in there with them during their struggles before Chase rescued them, but after my experience this morning with a call center supervisor in NY unwilling to locate my confirmed transfer to Chase in the amount of $3500 (although I had a confirmation number too) I am disgusted. I am removing all my money from the bank and spreading the word of my experience to everyone I know.

  2. Bruce Temkin says:

    Marua: Thanks for sharing; the situation sounds like it was a real pain. While I’m not looking to turn this blog into a complaint desk (which is why I took out the name of the person you had in your comment), I thought this situation was a good platform for me to make some observations.

    WaMu was not world-class in customer experience, as a matter of fact it was ranked 85th out of 112 firms in my 2007 Customer Experience Index. JPMorgan Chase was even lower: 103rd. So the combination of these 2 banks does not bode well for customer experience.

    But even the best organizations run into problems like this. The question is: how often does it happen and what do they do to correct the situation? It sounds like they haven’t corrected your situation. WaMu/Chase needs to hope that this is a relatively isolated event.

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