If you read why ING Direct has better rates, you’ll know I have a slighted preference towards the bank. Besides the rate, they have other features which make it worthwhile to reconsider where you’re banking.
I flipped the article around. Originally, it had the shorter sections at the top, but I wanted to garner and keep the interest early on, so I’m going to focus on one specific feature.
Naming Your Accounts.
A relatively simplistic function, it can become a very powerful motivator, or deterrent, when framed in the right context. Most accounts are numeric, others are alphanumeric, but neither of these really mean anything to us.
Naming accounts allow the users to personalize their experience. Imagine logging into your account and seeing any one of the following:
[Child’s Name] Future (in Your Hands)
[Spouse & Your Name] Livelihood (Retirement Sans Cat Food)
[Your Name] Future Boat
[Your Name] Next Travel Adventure
Seeing either of the first two after logging in to transfer/withdraw money for paying bills, would probably have you pause a moment and reconsider. I’m not sure if they allow you to add expletives, but if I had an account named, “This is for your kid, a**hole” it would definitely deter me. Even without the name-calling, the purpose is still to invoke the feeling of stealing from your child and their future.
But we don’t always have to be so reprimanding and negative! The flip side is that you could be completely selfish, think of the most extravagant thing you want (for me, it’s a walking safari) and each time you log in and see that goal, it’d be an incentive to add just a little extra. Either through regular, automatic deposits (ideal) or whenever you can type deposits – your self-serving desires will fuel the motivation.
As for the other benefits…
ING Direct consistently offers sweepstakes (and of fairly substantial value). Back in 2007, they had Adventures on the Road to Happiness. Participants drafted short essays about their savings goal and how they planned to get there for a chance to win $10,000.
Then in 2008 they had the Automatic Saver Sweepstakes giving away a total of $60,000 for simply setting up an automatic transfer of $100/month.
They ran a similar program in 2009 called Magnify Your Savings Sweepstakes, whereby participants set up recurring deposits from $100 up to $50k. Monthly winners received 10x their recurring amount and the grand prize gave out a whopping 100x.
One of their newer features has been the WeTheSavers blog. Yes, promoting savings does help their own bottom line along with solidifying the brand and creating loyalty, but it’s more symbiotic than that.
It builds a community where people can share their successes and failures, find support and assistance, and critique and improve the services ING provides. For as cheesy as that sounds, it works. Look at any successful entity. Market share is important, end product is important, service is important, but organizations that thrive rely on their users to help them grow.
Not all online banks are the same, and online saving still isn’t for everyone. Whether you’re just starting out for looking for something new, make sure to look beyond the rates to see what else the bank offers. You may end up being surprised.
Photo by Chris John Beckett