How to reduce abandoned application forms and increase conversions – 4 quick wins

Eximee Team
Published 02/06/2023

An abandoned application form is a form that has been initiated by a prospective customer but not completed or submitted within a specified time frame.

There can be several reasons for a form to be abandoned. For instance, it could be due to the applicant losing interest or encountering technical difficulties. Abandoned forms usually do not undergo further processing or review, resulting in lost money and tarnished reputation for a bank if customers have negative experiences trying to fill out an online form.

However, an abandoned form does not necessarily mean the customer no longer needs the product, and it is possible to recover up to 22% sales. Read this article to find out how.

Banks are struggling with conversion

The conversion of an application form is one of the most important measures of its effectiveness. It is the ratio of the number of initiated forms to the number of actually submitted. A low conversion rate means that the bank has problems with the form (of a technical, business, or UX nature) that discourage or prevent customers from completing it.

Form abandonment is nothing unusual – it’s the norm confirmed by research but we strive to reduce it as much as possible. As early as 2011-2012, Capgemini’s cyclical World Retail Banking Report pointed out that customers switch banks primarily because of the quality of service and ease of product use. The 2018 report asked a different question, but the conclusions were the same. It found that among the 5 factors determining whether a customer stays with a bank for another year, “ease and convenience of use" ranked first, followed by “convenience of use of the website/mobile app" in fifth place. When choosing a bank, customers are also primarily guided by ease and convenience of using products and services.

Other studies have focused on filling out online application forms for banking products. Aite Group reports that banks face a major problem with form abandonment. Depending on the bank, between 65% and 95% of customers abandon filling out the application forms. In another survey, Signicat asked respondents about the reasons for form abandonment. The results, published in early 2019 point at:

  • too much personal information required (40%)
  • long time to complete the form (34%)
  • inability to complete an entire purchase process online and the request to deliver physical documents (28%)
  • too complicated language used in the forms (18%)
  • other (6%)

How to detect abandoned application forms?

From a technical point of view, banks have at least two ways to detect abandoned application forms. The first (passive) is more commonly used but gives a lower chance of successfully recovering conversions. In contrast, the active method we employ with our clients stands out for its remarkable effectiveness.

In the case of the first solution, when a user starts filling out the application form, a server session begins concurrently (set to for example 20 minutes). Each time the user moves to a new field in the form, the timer resets, and the 20-minute countdown starts again. Once it drops to 00:00 and a user has not performed any action, the server’s connection to the application form is interrupted and the form is identified as abandoned. 

Using the active method called heartbeat gives better business results, as abandoned application forms can be detected much quicker. The form sends cyclic, heartbeat-like pulses that the monitoring system is listening for. If the signal is not received within a predetermined time (e.g., 20 seconds), the form is considered abandoned because its “heart” has stopped beating. The system issues an alert that triggers the execution of the actions prescribed for such a situation.

In practice, the heartbeat mechanism reduces the response time to form abandonment to a minimum. On the bank’s side, the time it takes to receive the signal is fully configurable so that you can maximize the effects and minimize the risk of errors (e.g. when a customer temporarily loses internet connection). Heartbeat works great as an initial step in the lost sales recovery process.

Not all abandonments are the same

Before we move on to discuss an effective method of increasing conversion, let’s clarify the issue relevant to the processing of bank customers’ personal data. It is vital whether the form is filled out by a person who is a bank customer already or is yet to become one.

In the first case, the customer is logged into the bank’s transaction system so the bank knows the customer and what products they have and has all the necessary contact information and required consents.

If the form is filled out by a person who is anonymous to the bank, the situation is more difficult. The bank does not know the prospect and does not have their data until the application form is submitted. Moreover, even if the person provided contact information and only then abandoned the application form, they may not have approved the relevant consent allowing the bank to contact them.

4 proven steps to recover abandoned application forms and increase conversion

Finally, we come to the nitty-gritty part of this article, which is a proven formula for recovering abandoned application forms and increasing conversion. The ultimate goal of detecting abandoned forms is to contact the lead as soon as possible.

How do you do that?

  1. Obtain contact details and relevant consents. Design the application form so that the phone number of a potential client is one of the first fields to be filled in. The number alone is not enough for a bank to be authorized to contact the lead, so add a checkbox with consent to limited data processing (e.g., for 10 days for communication purposes). 
  2. Use the heartbeat method to immediately identify an abandoned application form.
  3. Instantly capture data entered by a customer in the form. Eximee can capture and record data entered by a lead, even before the form has been submitted. It gives you a chance to contact the lead and close the sale.
  4. Integrate internal banking systems so that the information about the abandoned application forms, along with the contact details, is immediately forwarded to a bank employee (e.g., the call center department), whose task is to get in touch with the lead as soon as possible. Provide the employee with all the data captured from the abandoned form so that it is possible to quickly complete the missing information with a customer over the phone.

The above method has been successfully applied by our clients. It is also confirmed by other global banks. Two such examples are mentioned by McKinsey in Retail Banking Insights. It also provides statistics from one of the banking leaders in Asia-Pacific. The bank manages to successfully contact more than 50% of people who have abandoned application forms. Conversion from such calls is as high as 43%. In other words, the bank recovers 22% of lost sales.

The response time is crucial

To effectively persuade customers to return and complete the application form, it is crucial for the call center employee to promptly reach out to them within a maximum of 10 minutes, preferably within 5 minutes. These are hard facts drawn from sales research. In 2011, The Lead Management Study proved that sales effectiveness drops by 400% if no one contacts a lead within 10 minutes. confirmed this data in 2018 in its study. The conclusion is that the lost sales recovery is most effective within the first 5 minutes. In contrast, a contact after 30 minutes reduces the chances of a sale by as much as 21 times.

To enable effective customer contact within a maximum of 5 minutes, the system of application forms, detecting abandonment, and relaying information to the call center must be a well-oiled machine. Take advantage of our expert knowledge and experience in this field and contact us. We will be happy to help.

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  • Retail


Eximee Team