FNB @fnbsa – #fixUrUx

FNB introduced version 5 of their mobile app in November 2016, featuring “industry-leading solutions such as FNB Pay, Fingerprint ID, Secure Chat, Smart inContact, 1-touch Report Fraud, as well as the FNB Watch App.”.


Or not.

Amongst the “improvements” was a replacement of SMS OTP for online transaction verification. One can imagine how the business case sold itself, a new fancy app feature and a reduction in costs for sending bulk SMS. The process works as follows:

  1. Sign in online for Online Banking
  2. Choose to Pay someone
  3. Fill in all the details
  4. Confirm details
  5. Wait for a notification on your registered smart device
  6. Click on the notification
  7. Sign in on the smart app
  8. Approve
  9. Continue online

Steps 5 to 9 have to happen within 80 seconds. Sounds straight forward right? Except it isn’t. There are two major issues I keep stumbling into:

  1. Smartphone notifications are simply not reliable (in comparison to SMS at least), so they either don’t arrive or they don’t arrive within the 80 seconds
  2. If, like me, you keep changing phones, the phone needs to be verified (note, this is not the pairing process done when you 1st use the app).
    1. This is when it get’s more complicated: You need to login to Online banking to authorise the device, but if FNB decides that it doesn’t like your browser, IP address or other information, you will not be presented the option to authorise the device.
    2. There is no indication to you though that you’re banking with reduced functionality except for some arbitrary errors on some transactions (like transaction limit reached, when in fact you’re way below the limit) and missing items in menus.

Phoning in to the call centre doesn’t help. They try all sorts of things to get you onto a trusted Online Banking session, like not using incognito mode, trying different browsers etc. None of which works. Finally, they try to verify the PC/Browser/IP you’re using on the back-end, after a complicated over the phone verification process. In the end that fails too.

So you’re stuffed. Unless by some change you can still use your old device.

I’ve asked the call centre to relay this to the “tech team” on several occasions and nothing has changed.

The user experience has been killed in favour of cool tech and cost-cutting on SMS. It’s easily fixed though: bring back SMS OTP or at least make it a fall-back option. Blows the business case I’m sure, but revives the User Experience which should be the priority.

FNB is just another big bank after all

It is admittedly my fault for buying into the FNB Innovation story and wishing that there really was a success story where a large services company, in a traditional sector like banking, could turn on the Innovation Gene and change the way they provide value to customers. We were trying to do exactly the same thing at my company, at the same time, so it was a source of hope. To be fair, I think the Innovation was real and did drive them to produce some real products and services, like the Mobile App and the Paypal integration. Not to forget the eBucks and ability to buy devices and connectivity. In admiration of what they achieved, we studied the ‘FNB Innovation Model’ and broke it into down into 5 key pillars:

  1. Leadership – Simply put, Michael Jordaan, the man at the top, leading the way in terms of culture
  2. Reward and Recognition – Creating the incentive for everyone to pitch in
  3. Communication – Keeping everyone on the same page, distributing the culture and energy
  4. Process – Making sure that it survived outside of normal processes where necessary and integrated where required
  5. Platform – Tying it all together on a portal which facilitated everything above

So, after being a customer of Standard bank for more than 15 years, and after several “promotions” to a different account types, each of which did not deliver on the promised value-adds, I jumped ship. The migration was simple, debit orders included and all was well. For a while.

Personally, I suspect that the most important pillar, pillar number 1, Innovation Leadership collapsed when Michael Left. Shortly thereafter, Paul Steenkamp, head of Innovation packed his suitcase for Standard Bank. I suspect he knew the importance of Customer First focus that drives Innovation. Innovation would not have collapsed immediately, but I think customers like myself that had a pulse on the Innovation coming out of FNB will be feeling the Innovation void in the last year. One would need to be on the inside to comment on the culture, but that would have been the 1st to disappear.

Sadly for me, I’ve got to experience 1st hand how quickly the customer focus can degrade. With my past experience at Standard Bank, I have no faith in the “personalised service” value-adds sold with higher-end packages. This at best translates to a smaller team of call-centre agents that are dedicated to taking your calls. There ability or willingness to solve your problems however is no better than the rest. And that is when you actually get hold of them. So when FNB interrupts my Internet banking login process to inform me that I qualify for an upgrade, I annoyingly click the “No thank you”, every single time. A month ago though, I logged in to increase my credit limit, I was again offered the opportunity to upgrade my account, or my limit or both. I respectively, and consciously clicked on the option to increase the limit only. Many annoying clicks later, and I’m congratulated on an account upgrade!?

One would assume that the upgrade to Private Client status would mean undoing this would be a breeze. A dedicated banker, as advertised, would be on the case and get me back to a common Silver card in no time. Many phone calls later, emails, tweets, threats etc. and I am sad to say that I am sitting with two credit cards, neither of which can be used. Customer centricity has failed. The product is not as advertised, in fact it’s just the opposite. And without customer centricity Innovation will have failed.

Does that mean though that Standard bank will start upping it’s game soon? I have my doubts. Yes, Paul is there, along with many Innovation experts in the field. But what about the CEO? Our theory suggests that pillar 1 is about the CEO, the one person in the organisation that can set and change the culture of the organisation. We’ll have to wait and see. In the meantime, I’m placing my bets and wishes on industry disruption. And I hope it comes from a garage somewhere, where some genius with a true Innovation mindset, see’s this frustration in all us customers, and brings a blockchain to the party. (Or maybe it’s time to visit Capitec?)



South African poor Service levels extend to the Web too.

One of the reasons that I was most keen to adopt Online shopping was that I would not have to deal with the typically pathetic service levels that we South Africans have come to expect as the norm. Whether its the company tuck shop or the post-office, we all know the frustration experienced while staring at the totally unenthusiastic person behind the counter, as she avoids looking at you, clicks on her chewing gum, has a conversation with her co-workers and decides to have an impromptu tea break when you finally get to the front of the queue. Have you seen the look on the faces of foreigners when they 1st encounter our sales people?

Anyway, I’ve made a few purchases online from various providers including Amazon, eBay etc. and have had nothing but good experiences, until now…

If I had to choose which of the outlets in South Africa have the worst service and have the people with the worst attitude, there would be many contenders, but one clear winner: The South Africa Post Office. And, much to my dismay, I’ve discovered that they’ve tried so hard to be bad, that they’ve actually provided the same disservice via the Internet too!

Long story short, I ordered an item from the online store eXpansys South Africa. The item had an estimated shipping time of 7-10 days, which I confirmed telephonically (the agent confirmed that they had stock). 2 Weeks later and all I had was email confirmation of the order and payment, even after asking for information via their email based tracking system. 13 days later after, I received a Speed Services Courier (powered by non other than South African Post Office) tracking code. And then, nothing.

The tracking system on the Speed Services Courier website showed that the item was received and nothing else, till today, almost a month later.

After several calls to eXpansys and SAPO, I’ve discovered that the item was stolen and that an enquiry will have to be initiated by eXpansys.

So, that’s the last time I order anything from eXpansys or anyone that uses Speed Services Courier to deliver items. Even though the theft is probably SAPO’s issue, eXpansys could have handled it much better by actually replying to emails to their tracking system and informing me of what was going on. Naughty eXpansys, naughty.