After getting my credit card frozen for the suspicious act of buying an airplane ticket to Ireland from an Irish airline, I made a point today of alerting the banks whose cards I intend to use on my trip that I would be using the cards outside of the country. Thirty minutes later, I’m left wondering why banks make it hard or unpleasant to help them do their jobs.
Only thirty percent of American citizens have passports, and the size of the US means you can get pretty far from home and stil be buying in dollars. But I’d assume that there’s a high correlation between active travel outside the US and the sort of high net-worth customers the banks want, so it’s a little boggling to me that to tell my primary bank I might be using my ATM card overseas took twenty minutes on the phone. My secondary credit card bank was a lot better - there’s a separate interactive voice response menu option, or a form to fill out on the web. But in both cases the options are pretty buried deep in secondary menus, and the interactions weren’t what I’d call friendly.
Here’s an idea for my friends at Simple, or any other banking service that wants to give it a shot: surface travel notification tools in my account if I’ve ever used your services from outside of North America. Make the page where I give you my travel information friendly and good-looking. And once I give you that information, send me a confirmation email with additional information on how to avoid identity theft and fraud on the road.
Thinking of every touchpoint where your customer might encounter your service, and thinking of how to optimize it, is a big and long-term project. But it’s these little moments - when you can make the chores of travel planning in the modern age into something pleasant, hassle-free, and useful - where you build customer relationships that will last.
As you might guess from the above, I’m off to Interaction ‘12 in Dublin - if you’ll be there too, .