Death, Taxes, and Banking Forms

I’m sure you’re familiar with the quote, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Anyone who works in the banking industry, however, knows there is one thing that’s just as certain:

“Banks love forms.”

Banks have forms to request other forms. They have forms to verify they checked other forms. Whether a form adds value to a process is not a question that gets asked at many banks we visit. We’ve become hardwired in this industry to assume every regulation, policy, and procedure requires a corresponding document and signature.

A form should never be the default option to facilitate a process. That said, there are times when forms are necessary and add value – they can drive a workflow, track progress, prove activity, gain agreement, and much more. The following are a few of the most important guidelines we use when working on overall form design with banks:

  1. Remember that forms are screens before they are paper – Forms are often designed as if they are a piece of paper. In reality, they are a screen on a computer first, and they may never be physically printed if they are passed electronically. Since bankers interact with them on a screen, the forms should be designed like a screen. For example, a banker may see only the top 2/3 of a form on a screen without scrolling. Moving everything up on the page will mean that banker won’t have to scroll and, more importantly, won’t accidentally miss things on the bottom of the form simply because they didn’t immediately display. Do you have any forms with 6-7 items on them and they are spread throughout the whole sheet? Move it all to the top!

  2. Remove data that isn’t necessary to get the job done – Forms often contain addresses, phone numbers, emails, etc. that don’t need to be there. In fact, they often cause needless errors and audit problems when they are incorrect or not filled out. Scour through the fields on a form and determine the necessity of the information. Do you need it to get the job done? Can you find the information elsewhere? Does it cause a problem if it isn’t correct but doesn’t further the cause?

  3. Consider the out-of-branch and in-branch implications – If the form is internal only, logos and design attributes should be shelved for designs that make the work easier to complete for the internal teams. If it is externally used, it should be well branded and consider the security of customer information in case it is accidentally misplaced.

  4. Set consistent standards – When a set of forms contains nuanced differences, bankers must spend time learning how to use each form before they can use it. Consistent forms help bankers do their job effectively by saving time, reducing the likelihood of errors, and building confidence. Put more simply, consistent forms feel easy. It is critical to look at all the little things to build consistency. Use the same font across the board. Some forms say “Birthday” and others say “Date of Birth”? Pick one and go with it. These little things add up and shouldn’t be ignored.

  5. Assign a form czar – Forms become inconsistent because they are often created by different people in the organization. Compliance made this one, eBanking made that one, and before you know it they are all vastly different. Assign a person or committee that is tasked with creating a format and standards for all forms. If new forms are needed, that eBanking person can relay what information is needed, and the form can be created within the standards.

The key is to give the value to the bankers who use them day-to-day. Making forms that are minimal and consistent will ensure bankers can focus on creating an exceptional customer experience. Efficiency in this area is just one small foundational aspect to improving the holistic banking experience with your institution.

Keep in touch with CC Interactive on our website ( or by contacting Jesse Cain or Hans Christensen for additional insights and consulting on improving customer experience and efficiency at your financial institution.

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