Cross-channel user experience with FNB

A few weeks ago I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy S6, but had difficulties with FNB’s online banking application after re-installing it. Instead of just complaining about it, I thought I’d take the effort to document the process. And in doing so, find ways which could make it a better experience in future.

Installation: the easy part

The installation via Google’s Play Store is straightforward, as is with most applications. As someone who works with technology for a living, I usually enjoy the process of configuring a phone. But things became problematic after logging in to the application.

Authentication: easier said than done

I entered my FNB online banking username and the app notified me that it was waiting for a confirmation SMS. A few seconds later I received the SMS and the app prompted me to link a card of mine. This is where things got confusing (I’ve been unable to reproduce this). Having just received an SMS with a One Time Pin (OTP), I entered a card number linked to my online banking username and the OTP. The correct action would’ve been to enter a card number and the associated PIN of the card (not the OTP). I am so used to entering the OTP for any action related to my account like adding a beneficiary or making a payment. The fact that I had just received an SMS, I assumed that I had to use the OTP with a card number of mine.

Computer says no: card blocked

After attempting to enter the OTP twice, my card got blocked. In spite of the warning that two incorrect entries of card number and PIN would result in a blocked card, I proceeded. It didn’t seem possible that I could enter my card number and PIN incorrectly, as I use it almost on a daily basis. Shortly thereafter, I received an email confirming the blocking of my card due to incorrect entry of my PIN. Frustration set in.

I decided to call it a day and try again another time. The following day, I used my credit card at a shop and the transaction was successful. Moments later, at another shop my card wouldn’t work. The cashier read some ambiguous error message to me. I was able to use another card, a scenario not everyone is as fortunate to have. Frustration became anger.

Please call us; even though we can’t help you

Upon returning home, I received an SMS to call the phone number on the back of my card as the PIN entered was incorrect. After spending 4 minutes on hold, I hung up. This process involved entering my ID number at least 3 times, before it was accepted. Each time I entered it, I was informed by the voice prompt that it was incorrect. I think this was due to having to wait a couple of seconds after the prompt ended, before entering the number. The entire process of getting to a consultant is tedious.

The second time I called back, I bypassed all the options and selected to speak directly to a consultant. After explaining my situation, I was told that I couldn’t be helped over the phone and that I needed to go into a branch. Seriously?

I then turned to Twitter to vent my frustration. It was futile.

Resolution and conclusion

Two days later I went in to an FNB branch, explained my situation all over again. Within a few minutes, the consultant unblocked my card, asked me to enter a PIN and I was off.

The entire situation could be a lot simpler if:

  1. The flow in the application was less ambiguous. Why send a OTP when verifying the app with the phone when it is never used? I understand the SMS gets sent to the phone installing the app to identify it with the linked online banking profile. But then make the message in the SMS clear: “Your phone is now linked to your online banking profile. Please follow the instructions in the application to proceed.” Or something along those lines.
  2. Increase the number of attempts from two to three for incorrect PIN entries. If the first point wasn’t as it is currently, this wouldn’t even be necessary.
  3. Don’t make clients waste their time and money by phoning a call centre that is can’t help. Or even better, allow the call centre to unblock the card over the phone. I realise there are security implications to this. A few security questions can help this process. That’s not to say that displaying an ID book at a bank ensures 100% security either.
  4. When your social media account tells you to send an email to a specified address, at least have the courtesy to reply to the email. It has been a week now and I have yet to receive a reply. This is unfortunately always the case with FNB and email communication.

And now you know why I get annoyed at the bank charges for accessing an archived statement.

Final thoughts

FNB, you can do so much better. I expect a lot more for the bank charges I pay on my accounts.

Update: 2015-11-27

It’s been 10 days and I still haven’t had a reply to the email I sent to as requested by RbJacobs on Twitter. How is this acceptable? And why do banks get away it?