Humanizing the Experience

November 30, 2015

Why This Case Study Is Relevant

It demonstrates how improving the customer experience at every level  increases engagement, builds customer relationships and generates ROI.


The research showed that customers perceived the First Niagara website as “too bankerish.” It was not user-friendly or engaging. In its present state, the site was organized by the bank’s business priority, not the customer’s. And it did nothing to help the customer understand how First Niagara stood apart from the competition.


Customers wanted a website that made them feel like the bank understood them, and they wanted the bank to use clear, everyday language.


Reposition First Niagara to appear more customer-focused and engage the customer in an easy and simple way.

Changes had to be made in small steps. First step: Make the homepage more welcoming and customer-centric. The design had to support the customers’ needs, focus on their stage of life, avoid “product sell,” and be easy to navigate. The content was redeveloped into more relatable, human language.

By making incremental enhancements to the existing site, we were able to drive:

  • 100% increase in views
  • 6 times more branch searches
  • 34% more searches from enhanced rate finder
  • 31% more account opening starts

But that was only the beginning. Although these changes were tangible improvements, the entire digital experience had to be “humanized.”

Web Redesign and Overhaul: Humanizing Digital

It started with a full UI, site navigation overhaul, visual and content redesign and, working with First Niagara’s development team, we mapped new templates into a new content management system. All of these improvements helped create a customer experience that drove deeper engagement with the site and the brand.

Redesign Results

  • Traffic increased 30%
  • Customer satisfaction rose from 64% to 72% after the redesign
  • Customer time spent on the site increased from 10-15 seconds to two minutes and thirty seconds

The impact of the new “humanized” website was realized when the digital channel became part of a new multichannel checking campaign to drive new account openings. By adding digital elements to the campaign, the customer felt more in control —they decided how and where they wanted to respond. The results showed that integrating the channels played a big part in the success of the program.

Here are the results:

Pinnacle Checking: Every ATM Free Multichannel Acquisition Campaign:

  • Achieved 129% of goal
  • 38% increase in new checking accounts opened
  • 28% increase in new incremental deposit balances
  • 6% conversion rate
  • One in every four customers who opened the personalized email opened an account

The website redesign was just one step toward improving customers’ perceptions of First Niagara. The bank was also lagging behind the competition in other vital areas of customer service. At that time, opening an account online was virtually impossible. This was a service that most other banks had offered their customers for some time. Here is our approach to that challenge.

Online Account Opening


First Niagara’s online account opening system intimidated and confused customers. There were multiple steps and customers did not know why they were being asked to provide certain information.


The first thing we did was streamline the experience. We eliminated unnecessary fields and removed the legalese. Those simple changes reduced the number of steps and time needed to open an online account and began to improve the customer’s experience immediately. We also worked with a third-party vendor to customize the online account opening system and created an in-depth prototype that was tested with customers prior to launch.

The results:

  • Increased completion rates for deposit account openings by 500%

To learn more about how we can help you, contact us at


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