Accessibility – Are All Your Financial Institution’s Digital Properties Compliant?

by | Mar 18, 2021

Your website may be compliant, but what about your customer documents?

Financial institutions in the US, Canada and the UK are legally required to ensure that all their services are accessible to people with disabilities.

Although the definition of what is considered a disability is slightly different per country, the required outcome is the same: people with disabilities must be able to access and enjoy the same level of service as anyone else.

To achieve this, organizations must provide for different types of disabilities (visual, audio, motor and cognitive), and a range of capability within each (low to high impairment).

Accessibility requirements extend to any service or communication that is provided by an organization to connect with customers. This includes physical services or properties such as bank or credit union branches, service centers and printed documents. It also includes digital services or properties, such as online documents, communications via email or text, as well as websites, portals and mobile apps.

What is accessibility in Customer Communications Management?  

Accessibility in Customer Communications Management refers to how easily a recipient with a physical impairment or learning disability can access or consume information. Regardless of whether it is contained on an organization’s portal or web page; in an email or text; or in a document that is presented online.   

Accessibility in customer communications management (CCM)

When it comes to accessibility in CCM, organizations must ensure that any communication, regardless of whether it is physically delivered or emailed to customers, can be consumed by someone with an impairment.

Recent media attention has placed a spotlight on website accessibility, specifically regarding the requirements and deadlines for compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the UK’s Equality Act 2010.

The  (WCAG 2.1) have been established to provide organizations with guidelines as to what accessibility compliance really means.

However, it is not just your public website that must be accessible. There are many other digital properties that a company regularly shares with customers, that need to be reviewed for accessibility compliance.

Are all your digital properties accessible?

Digital communications, such as emails, documents, and payment processes, have not necessarily received the same level of attention as website compliance. This means that financial institutions, contrary to internal perceptions, may not yet have achieved accessibility compliance.

It is critical that your compliance team reviews all digital assets to ensure they are accessible:

  • Portal accessibility – company portals that require customers to log in to access services, confidential information and regulated documents must adhere to the same accessibility standards as public websites. This means that digital banking platforms must be compliant.
  • Email accessibility - transactional emails and marketing campaigns must be designed and developed to be consumed through assistive technologies, such as screen readers and magnifiers. In addition, any landing pages that are linked from emails must also be checked for accessibility.
  • Document accessibility -  to create accessible customer documents, such as notices, statements, and tax certificates, that are emailed or made available online to view or download, they must be generated through a compliant document generation platform.
  • Payment accessibility – payment processes and confirms must be easy to use for all customers, including those with visual, motor, or cognitive impairments.
  • Form accessibility – forms that a customer is required to complete and submit, for example an online loan application, must be accessible through a screen reader or other assistive technology.

    Mobile app accessibility - information and services provided through a mobile application, such as a digital banking app, must be accessible.

Why accessibility in Customer Communications Management is critically important

On the one hand, financial institutions have a legal or regulatory obligation to ensure that all customer communication is accessible. There are consequences for companies that don’t meet accessibility standards. These can come in the form of complaints to industry regulators or an ombudsman. If a regulatory body finds that an organization has failed in the provision of accessible assets, it can impose sanctions and fines can be quite hefty.

Aside from legal consequences, there is also the risk of reputational damage should an accessibility failure or subsequent lawsuit become the subject of negative media and social media coverage.

But the legal obligation and reputational risk should not be the primary drivers for accessibility.

For CCM professionals, the idea that you may be failing to reach a significant portion of your customer base should be the major concern. Customer experience should be your top priority, and accessibility is a critical part of that experience.

According to official statistics, around 10% of the world’s population, or roughly 650 million people, live with a disability.

The bottom line is – accessibility is a commercial necessity (and a business advantage).  

Need help auditing your communications for accessibility?

To address the need for accessible communications, financial institutions need to partner with a service provider that:

  • Understands accessibility requirements
  • Can assist with relevant advice and expertise
  • Provides a platform that can produce accessible communications on time and at scale for millions of recipients

Doxim offers an all-in-one partnership to help financial institutions create accessible customer documents and communications and distribute them securely. BOOK A CONSULTATION TO LEARN MORE

3. Expansion of digital products

As banking customer behavior shifts, banks must move with the times, or risk getting left behind. Many banks today are exploring the power and potential of open banking, which can allow them to offer more innovative products and services to their customers, as well as to better compete with fintech companies and other non-traditional financial service providers.

As you shift your banking business model to reach new segments or provide an enhanced array of services, communication becomes even more pivotal to your success. After all, if your customers don’t know which new services they qualify for, or how those services will help them meet their goals, then they are unlikely to explore them further. CCM technology can be leveraged here to provide personalized on-statement messaging that directs customers to the right products and services, as well as 1:1 personalized “explainer” videos to help them get started.

Adjusting your bank’s priorities to thrive in 2023

In an era of constant change, the key to successfully transforming your bank’s business model will be to stay attuned to the changing needs and preferences of customers, and to be open to exploring new opportunities and technologies that can help your FI stay competitive and relevant. But these new opportunities are doomed to fail if you do not clearly communicate their benefits and make it simple for customers to access them.

That is why transforming your customer communication strategy is the best first step to broader digital transformation. By updating your approach to communications to meet omnichannel customer needs, you also position your bank to communicate the benefits of changes in your broader organization, like new or enhanced products and services. The pace of change in banking has never been brisker – but with the right strategic approach to these changes, the future is bright.

Investing in a modern customer communication management and engagement platform is an essential part modernizing your banking strategy, as it can provide the personalized digital experiences that will keep your bank or credit union ahead of the competition. It helps provide a great customer experience, and builds rich relationships, which in turn results in customers for life and a competitive advantage in the rapidly evolving financial marketplace.

How Doxim can address the banking customer communications trends identified and help future-proof your digital banking strategy

banking customer communications trends

Doxim’s experienced consultants and omnichannel platform can help transform your customer experience in many ways, including:

  • Gathering and utilizing customer data to continually improve the personalization of communications.
  • Building trust with customers via communication (via print, PDF, HTML, email, text, and online interactive experiences).
  • Leveraging interactive video to drive personalized digital customer experiences, such as interactive statements, bills, or reports, that offer visual engagement and real-time interactivity
  • Putting customer data, including customer statements, at the fingertips of your service representatives for immediate and personal service.
  • Making a meaningful connection with value-added content, like information about philanthropic activities, on customer statements.

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