Some learnings from the time I removed my overdraft on Natwest.
Disclaimer, I’m building a bank at Monzo
Full disclaimer, I’m a Product Manager at Monzo. Monzo’s a UK challenger bank that lives on your smartphone.
I recently turned off my overdraft with Natwest
Control matters a lot, particularly when it comes to money, so I’m always on the lookout for where we can improve this part of the banking experience.
I don’t use my Natwest account as often as I used to, so I turned off my overdraft
- For peace of mind
- To avoid accidental charges (this later proved futile)
- To learn some stuff
It was an awful experience but I learnt some stuff
I had a frustrating, shitty experience. But, in the process, I learnt some basic principles:
- Minimise steps in the process, and avoid asking for unnecessary information
- Give people what they ask for (i.e. no overdraft charges if I’ve removed my overdraft)
- Get the basic technology right (instant, mobile first, single browser, error handling)
Read on for more.
Here’s some learnings
1. Make it in-app, in one place, and instant
- I’m set up for mobile banking so I tried there first, unsuccessfully
- I have to open three browser windows in total - try to keep things in one place if you can
- If you insist on opening something new, multiple tabs are better than multiple browsers
- Ideally, removing my overdraft should be immediate too
2. Make it simple, and avoid unnecessary steps
- Don’t make me fill out a form to ‘apply for an overdraft’ (I don’t want one, I’m trying to remove an overdraft )
- Tell me why you need information, or don’t ask for it (three previous addresses ?)
- Thumbs up for accessibility though
3. Be specific, or explain why you can’t be
- Natwest tell me that my request be actioned ‘as soon as they can’
- Vague timelines are really frustrating, so try to be specific when you can
- If that’s not possible, explain why it’s the case
4. Use ‘normal’ communication methods
- Ideally I’d have got instant confirmation that my overdraft was removed
- If a delay is unavoidable, just send me a quick text later saying it’s all sorted
- Instead, a day or so after ‘applying’ I get an email that invites me to log back in and view the results of my overdraft application (tension is killing me)
- Logging in takes a while, and then I have to download a PDF, with seven full pages, and trawl through for the result (spoiler alert: my overdraft is removed)
5. Actually give people what they ask for
- I’m told that even if I remove my overdraft I can still go overdrawn - even worse I’ll actually get stung with loads of fees
- I’m removing my overdraft because I want to eliminate the risk of going overdrawn, so ideally I wouldn’t be able to go into an ‘unarranged overdraft’ - why does this have to happen?
- If that’s not possible - I know that sometimes there’s still a small chance an offline transaction (e.g. the Tube) might take you overdrawn - let me know why and at least give me a chance (send a notification and give me til the end of the day to add money before applying charges)
6. Handle errors elegantly
- 10mins after starting my overdraft journey, my world ends in an unexpected error
- If something fails, let me know why
- If you don’t know exactly, give your best guess as to why… is it because it was a Sunday night? Was there maintenance?
- Help me understand when to try again, to avoid me failing repeatedly… should I try again immediately, maybe later today, or should I wait til tomorrow?
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