What do consumers expect from their banks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic? We interviewed 40 customers of 14 banks to find out. We also asked them what they think of how their banks are handling the crisis so far. Their responses show that many banks are missing the mark by making COVID-19 content hard to find or focusing primarily on service availability and not on the more serious financial concerns customers have, such as how to make their next loan payment.

Here are three of the bank brands that are getting it right:

  • Ally. Ally’s mobile app has a prominent link on the home screen to content that evokes a sense of empathy and togetherness by laying out what the customer should do (“your focus”) and what Ally is doing (“our focus”). Here’s how one customer summed up Ally’s approach: “It has important information about all different scenarios for account holders and what Ally is doing to try and make this period easier for them.” Another customer described how she felt after reading Ally’s message to customers: “I feel reassured and happier about what they’re doing — I didn’t realize they were waiving fees and offering deferrals. I appreciate that, even if it doesn’t affect me.”
  • Digit. Digit — a nonbank financial services brand that offers automated savings tools — guides customers to its comprehensive “Coronavirus Relief Hub.” Digit’s specialized content then helps people understand COVID-19’s potential impact on their finances and provides guidance to specific actions and services. This includes tools specific to Digit (like adjusting automated savings) and third-party tools such as a stimulus check calculator. Customers in our study said they felt more secure, more educated, and generally just better after reading Digit’s message to them. As one said, “I feel a lot better — there is so much information here related to many aspects of the pandemic, and I feel like this would be a great resource for anyone during this time.”
  • U.S. Bank. U.S. Bank’s mobile app COVID-19 content exemplifies information design best practices like creating a strong hierarchy, organizing content under clear headings such as “Find the help you need,” and including clear calls to action. It goes beyond providing the must-haves (like impacts to branches and financial assistance options available) to also educate customers on topics such as “how to spot a scammer.” As one customer said, “It seems as though they have thought ahead and are taking the steps to keep their employees safe and the customer.”

Forrester clients can learn more — including what other two bank brands stood out — in our new research just published yesterday, Many Banking Apps’ COVID-19 Responses Disappoint Customers, But A Few Stand Out. Set up an inquiry call to discuss how your company can apply these learnings to how you communicate with your customers during this unprecedented crisis.