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Report Update - Meerkats, Credit Cards and a Spanish Bank

Adrian Porter Head of Strategic Research

My daughter told me recently that while she really liked meerkats and thinks they are really cute to look at, they were the most offensively smelly animals she encountered during her recent animal care course at the local menagerie. So despite their endearing reputation she and her fellow students would rather clean out the pigs, capybaras, spiders, rats or snakes than go too near to the meerkats.

So the take away here is, enjoy meerkats from a distance, but don’t get too close to them.

Fortunately for meerkat lovers (and that’s most of us as a result of ‘Meerkat Manor’ et al), we can all enjoy the cuteness without the smell in the form of toy meerkats, and according to comparethemarket about 1 million of us have taken the opportunity to secure ‘an Olaf’ by using its website to compare various financial products.

As part of our recent whitepaper -‘The Mobile Finance Experience’ – we reviewed the mobile provision of 50 UK financial institutions and 4 of the UK’s top price comparison websites (PCWs), including Compare the market.

We found that all of the PCWs were extremely efficient in their mobile provision – quite cute in fact. It was clear to us that they understand the importance of being accessible via mobile devices and the contextual part mobile plays in the customer experience they offer.

Unfortunately the ‘smell’ comes in to play when we try to get close to the product of interest by following a link on any of these PCWs to the provider’s own website using a mobile device. This is when the experience can become odious and potentially divert our attention to other providers.

Despite 42 percent of the 50 financial institutions we surveyed providing potential customers with a mobile friendly experience, which was a distinct improvement on the 12 percent we found when we last looked in 2011, the experience is quite different when following a link from a PCW .

This month, Santander launched their new website, and since they were previously ‘immobile’ I took a look to see if the new site was an improvement. I’m pleased to report that it is.

Santander has crafted an elegant responsive website that interchanges gracefully across devices, while still providing potential customers with links to key information. So far so good.

However, after opting to receive a meerkat on the Compare the market site, I followed a link through to Santander in pursuit of one of its popular credit cards. At this point the mobile experience becomes somewhat malodorous. Unfortunately as with the majority of financial providers’ sites, I was referred to a product page designed for desktop. It took me a good while to find the apply button which in turn referred me to a legacy desktop page (the start of the fulfilment process) that must have been created before designers properly considered form design best practice.

I needed a cuddly toy to console me and help contain my disappointment after such a promising start, but meerkats are only provided on receipt of the product. Therefore as no doubt many others before me have done, I decided not to pursue the application process after concluding that life is too short. Not only will Santander not get my custom, but I won’t get my ‘Sergei’.

This problem is not unique to Santander since as we note in our whitepaper, there is a distinct contradiction across the board between the desire of financial service firms to generate custom from the comparison market and the reality of the experience that they offer potential customers. Want to find out more? You can request a free copy of our latest mobile whitepaper here