Tuesday, January 25, 2011

HSBC: The worst brand on the internet

Regular readers, let me diverge for a moment. For the past 2 years HSBC have been my personal bank. And for the same amount of time, I've come to experience the worst example of customer service in the digital space. Which would be ok.. But when you are the eighth largest company in the world - and the most profitable bank, it's beyond inexcusable. The bar is set so low in the online banking arena, no one is even trying. And yet startups such as Mint.com prove you can be in finance, and still provide a functional and elegant user experience.

Here's 7 reasons why I believe HSBC are the worst brand on the internet:

1. 128 million customers. 868 Twitter followers. 8 tweets.

Don't go following @hsbc_com expecting the latest insights from this global powerhouse. 8 Tweets in total since Aug 09 including the zingers "New Archive 2009" and the unforgettable debut tweet "hsbc.com". I question why there are 868 followers.

2. Browser Support Policies circa 2002

HSBC still support IE6 (4.6 percent) and Firefox 2.x (less than 1 percent), but does not support Chrome which represents 22 percent of the population.

3. They manage to make consumer emails look like real SPAM

Below is an email from HSBC Security and Fraud Risk team. All the classic tell-tail signs of a SPAM email: unfamiliar sender address, inconsistent text formatting, multiple fonts, poor punctuation. Which would all be amusing.. if it wasn't actually from HSBC. I had to call the number to be sure.

4. They forgot to hire a User Experience Department

Basic user experience principles went out the door when they designed the HSBC Personal Banking site. Here is their patented 5 step login process, complete with inconsistent labeling, a univeral nav that is not universal, buttons on the same page that do the same thing, redundant steps and a ridiculously over-complicated mouse-controlled security keyboard.

5. Credit Card one site, Checking Account another site.

It's clear two completely different teams were tasked with building these sites.. and they didn't get along. Completely different login requirements, different terminology, different user experience.

6. Search Algorithm circa AltaVista

Want to search for information about HSBC Credit Cards? Sure, type "Credit Card" into the search box and wallah! The top result is an article about their plan to "create JV for Chinese Credit Card operation" The remaining 513 are almost as useful.

7. They serve popup ads in the middle of your online banking

They've found one more way to destroy any morsel of productivity by loading a Med Rec ad over the top of your screen while you try to actually complete a task. Brilliant.

Enough is enough.