|As well as simple / complex website
development, our consultants have vast knowledge and
experience in the following areas and would be more than
happy to assist with any related issues
SIMPLICITY WORKS - A Case study of a HSBC website form.
The organization is a tribe and the customer is a stranger.
That's why it's so hard to be customer-centric.
Some years ago, HSBC Hong Kong had what they thought was a
reasonably straightforward mortgage inquiry form. It had 17
. Property information (address, price)
. Applicant information (name, occupation)
. Loan information (amount, repayment period, etc.)
They were getting 2 enquiries a week through the form. They felt
that they could do better. They turned to Brett King, a friend
of mine, who has just published an excellent book called Bank
2.0. Brett and his team convinced them to radically simplify the
They reduced the number of fields from 17 to 3: Name, Email and
Phone number. The simplification process met some resistance.
People said that the old form gathered data that integrated well
into the internal system. People felt that the new form would
encourage frivolous enquiries from the likes of Donald Duck and
They finally launched the new form. There was no publicity or
special promotion, so the basic number of visitors to the
mortgage pages remained the same. However, enquires jumped from
2 per week to 180 per week. And yes, they did indeed get
mortgage requests from Arnie. Despite such frivolous enquires,
new mortgage business directly connected with the new, simpler
online form reached $20 million in the first quarter after its
release. With the old form they were doing less than $1 million
The HSBC team then thought they should tackle travel insurance.
2% of travel insurance applications at this time were coming
through the web channel; they wanted to double that. So they
looked at the application form. It took just 2 weeks to redesign
the website into a single 1-page application form. It took 4
months to get the compliance and legal department to sign off on
the change, because they didn't like the simple approach - it
lacked the detail they were used to. So how did that go? HSBC
now receives more than 75% of their applications for travel
The essential challenge of the Web is to become customer-centric. To truly succeed on the Web the organization
must shape itself around the customer. This is very difficult
for any organization to do because at heart all organizations
are tribes. And the one thing a tribe does not like to do is
shape itself around the stranger, the outsider.
The customer is a stranger, an outsider, and the customer is
more in charge on the Web than the organization is. This is the
essential shift in power and control that organizations must
embrace if they are to thrive on the Web. The customer isn't
just king anymore. The customer is dictator. Impatient and
always in a hurry.
If you simplify things for the customer then they will respond
positively. That's easier said than done because simplifying for
the customer requires creating extra complexity for the organization. Nobody likes to have their job made more complex.
What is even more problematic is when something you do to make
life easier for your customers makes life harder for one of your
colleagues. That makes you unpopular within the tribe.
Gerry McGovern is a web content management author and consultant