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Wells Fargo 2.0

My goal with this post was to list and comment the key online initiatives & features Wells Fargo launched in the last couple of years.
Please note my list is surely not exhaustive.

I started to keep track of Wells Fargo (WF) a few month ago, at the Online_Banking_Summit_2007 in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was one of the key speakers and my panel was on banking and web 2.0.

Among my fellow speakers and the attendees, there were a few people from Wells Fargo. I am glad I had the chance to meet Richard Weeks, Senior Vice President – Business Internet Services, and his colleagues David and Barry.

Best of breed: Innovation, customer experience and web 2.0
As far as I am concerned, WF is the most innovative bank online: they use many web 2.0 features and provide one of the best customer experience on the web.

Wells_fargo_ed_terpening_2They even have a VP, social media: Ed Terpening.
Check Ed’s interview.
Ed, what a great job you have!

Wells Fargo online banking services won many awards in the last couple of years: Global Finance Magazine (2005), Global Finance Magazine (2006), NetBanker (2006).

Please find below a list of articles published in 2002, 2004 and 2005 demonstrating Wells Fargo’s core strategy to integrate all channels and to provide the best possible online customer experience:
Wells Fargo: All ATMs Now Web-Enabled, All Banking Stores with Online Stations (2005)
Wells Fargo Re-Envisions Online Banking for Corporations As It Moves to Bank of the Future Today (2004)
Wells Fargo Leads Customer Service as First To Market, Offering Real-Time Web Collaboration To Online Commercial Customers (2002)

New Homepage: 50% increase in online application
Wells_fargo_homepage_june_2007This is one of the most recent initiatives from Wells Fargo. And it will surely be one of the most successful.

WF recently launched a new homepage designed to better meet the expectations from both visitors and customers.

Video sharing and social networking sites (like YouTube, MySpace, Facebook or Linkedin) became extremely popular and Web 2.0 is all about giving the power to people: nowadays, you can easily generate your own content (articles, audio, video), share your ideas, publish your comments… Your expectations have changed too: you expect companies to listen to you; you want your bank to act as a trusted financial partner.

With this re-design, WF has dramatically improved its customer experience, which will surely translate in better customer acquisition, better customer retention, and more online sales. Well done!

From Paul Penrose, finextra: methodology and early results
The updated Wells Fargo website takes a highly customer focused approach to ease access to most wanted features. The results have been spectacular with a 50% increase in online applications.
(…)
The bank’s Internet Services Group used site stats, survey data and internal search information to pick up on customer requirements and shortcomings in navigation and fed this back into the re-development.

The key features and tools available on the homepage are:
* Direct access to all the key features of Internet Banking,
* ATMs & Stores locator,
* Rich text content (video),
* Open an Account for the key products (you land on the first page of the application process)
* Check today’s rates.

WF listened to their clients and online visitors, and they showed they were listening: this is exactly what customers were looking for.

If you want to know more about this re-design, I invite you to check the excellent case study from Forrester Research, published on 23rd May 2007.

In addition to this case study, I found some useful insight in a couple of blogs: finextrathe EDM blog and the Bankwatch.

Wells Fargo 2.0
WF use an impressively long list of available web 2.0 features such as blogging, social networking (presence on MySpace and Second Life), Podcasts, RSS Feeds, Tagging and Video sharing.

I invite you to check out the excellent Wells Fargo posts on the brilliantNetBanker blog.

Please find below some stats on Wells Fargo:
* First U.S. bank with a blog (though Verity Credit Union beat them to it by more than a year)
* First bank with a student loan blog
* First bank with a business banking blog
* First bank in the world with a Second Life presence
* First bank on MySpace at <www.myspace.com/stagecoachisland>
* First bank with 2, 3, and 4 blogs
* First bank with an avatar persona on MySpace
* First bank with a VP Social Media

It is impressive. Indeed, even though research companies such as Gartner in August 2006 advised banks to use web 2.0 features to target the youth market or increase customer retention, most banks are still cautious and are not using web 2.0 technologies.

Blogging
Wells_fargo_blogs_june_2007Most banks still refrain from launching a blog for instance. They are concerned with the potential brand damage.

Wells Fargo is extremely involved in blogging with 4 blogs.
The Student LoanDown” blog is extremely popular among students. They have just celebrated the first anniversary of their first blog, “Guided by history“.

Personal Finance
Wells_fargo_my_spending_report_juneIn a previous post, I talked about the increasing importance of providing good Personal Finance tools.

Wesabe is one of the most famous communities built around Personal Finance.

WF provide a comprehensive service to help manage your finance: the My Spending Report service.

With this service, based on tagging, WF customers can:
* Automatically tracks their accounts in one place
* Sorts card and Bill Pay purchases into familiar categories
* Updates information automatically, every business day
* Organizes spending view by month, up to three months
* Download a year or more of your spending history

Podcasts
Wells_fargo_podcasts_june_2007Event though their offer is not as rich and comprehensive as a first direct and its first direct interactive service, WF provide podcasts.It is another web 2.0 box you can tick.

Social networking
Banks have four options with social networking: they can
* launch a new social network from scratch with a brand new platform
* launch a new social network using one of the leading platforms such asXing
* develop their presence on the most popular social networks such asFacebook or MySpace
* develop their presence in virtual worlds such as Second Life

Wells Fargo has a presence on MySpace (an avatar and a page) and inSecond Life.

Mobile Banking
Wells Fargo is also active in Mobile Banking. They recently launched a CEO Mobile Banking service for their business banking customers.
Wells Fargo Launches CEO Mobile Banking Service – 18 May 2007
Wells Fargo introduces mobile banking for business customers – 18 May 2007

Site Search
Providing a search feature (or not) is a commonly debated topic in the banking industry. Indeed, it is quite challenging: ideally, you would like to access the info after one of two clicks maximum. Providing a search engine is easy. Providing useful, optimized, results is extremely challenging.

Banks have two key goals: provide the best user experience and sell more online.
The key problem is the lack of patience from the visitors: the more clicks, the bigger the drop off rates… It is a major problem which has a significant impact on the top of the sales funnel.

Usually, media agencies advise banks to encourage their users to browse their website using the navigation bars.

Wells_fargo_site_search_june_2007WF provide an elaborated Search feature: you can enter a specific question or a phrase, and the results are categorized in 4 sections: Individuals, Small business, Commercial and about Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo Online Tour
Wells Fargo offer a good interactive presentation (in flash) to introduce its comprehensive internet banking service.

Hands on banking
This training and resource center is available at handsonbanking.org.

Wells Fargo developed this entertaining and educational program for kids, teens and adults as a commercial-free public service. It can help you improve your knowledge of:
* Budgeting
* The importance of saving
* Bank accounts and services
* Borrowing money and maintaining good credit
* Buying a home
* Investing
* Starting and managing a small business

In the library, you will find some tips categorized by topic and available in pdf format. For instance, I invite you to check WF’s high level shopping and spending tips.

My Savings Plans
Wells_fargo_my_savings_plan_june__3WF provide another interesting tool to its internet banking users: My Savings Plan. It is a clever way to:
* increase customer satisfaction improving customer experience and customer support,
* urge your clients to register to Internet Banking, save money and apply for WF saving products online.

Resources: Wells Fargo and Web 2.0
Please find below some articles on WF approach to Web 2.0.
Wells Fargo Taps Web 2.0
Wells Fargo Experimenting with Web 2.0
Why Wells Fargo bank is different
Most Business Tech Pros Wary About Web 2.0 Tools In Business
Adoption of Web 2.0 Is Taking Off, But Some Firms Are Still Reluctant

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Based in London, Christophe is an entertaining social media keynote speaker and a trusted advisor to the global financial services industry on the topics of social media, social business and digital innovation.

Christophe has contributed to over 140 events in 18 countries.

Currently, Christophe is ‘Social Media Senior Managing Consultant’ at IBM Interactive Experience. He’s also a Digital Advisor at the Financial Services Forum and the Moller Centre (part of the Churchill College in Cambridge).

Christophe’s views on VisibleBanking.com are his own, not necessarily his employer’s.

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