Accessibility interview with BBVA

Julia Zacharias
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One month ago, on May 20, the tenth Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) took place. However, accessibility is not just an important issue on this day, but throughout the year. That's why we spoke with Marta Alcañiz (Head of Design/UX Spain) from BBVA about how they are working year round to improve accessibility in the banking industry.

Marta, how is your organization raising awareness about digital access and inclusion among your employees and customers?

While it is something that we have been working on for a few years now, the lens is changing. In an industry like ours where interaction with the end user is constant, the diversity of approaches is immense. On the one hand, we continue to focus on adapting access to our offices and, as the relationship with our customers has gradually been strengthened through digital channels, our efforts have been adapted to these needs. However, this is not something that can be achieved in a short space of time, as there are many functionalities to adapt and many teams to train on this subject matter. In short, we must integrate accessibility into the definition and development of digital services.

Where do you see the most urgent needs in terms of digital access and inclusion for your customers? What channels do you offer to them to express their needs?

As we have already mentioned, the most relevant needs are required in operations through digital channels. The BBVA app has the most widely used functionalities accessible to everyone, and we are continuing to resolve some barriers so that we will soon have full accessibility.

In addition, the bank has other channels such as the Contact Center and, of course, the branches, if the customer prefers to interact in another way.

What is your vision to become (more) accessible and inclusive for those who engage with your digital products?

To date, most of our efforts have been focused on making our products understandable to all types of people, from the most financially literate to those who are not financially literate at all. This has been through the TCR programm which tries to make all our documentation 'Transparent', 'Clear' and 'Responsible'. It started with product pages and contracts and later with advertising pieces. Recently, work is also being done in the digital world. These developments aim to ensure that any customer can perfectly understand the characteristics of the financial products they are interested in.

And in addition to this project, we are focusing our efforts on accessibility in channels, not only from the point of view of regulatory compliance, but also to make sure the user experience is the best it can be.

How are you working to achieve this vision? Which of your offerings is a great example of digital access and inclusion and why?

We are working on the accessibility of the two digital channels (app and web) at different levels: from the BBVA Design System, in the definition of digital products, the training/awareness of teams and accessible programming and testing in the life cycle of our software. To tackle the plan, we requested an audit from a specialized company and the suggestions indicated are gradually incorporated with an orderly prioritization.

Additionally, our partner Applause helps us throughout this process: auditing, verifying and indicating the level of compliance regarding accessibility of our apps and websites.

What challenges have you faced in your journey towards (more/better) digital access and inclusion? Who are you partnering with to help you address and solve these challenges?

The most important challenge is the number of new functionalities that are added to these channels every month. As there are so many functionalities available to customers on these channels, it is very difficult to achieve good accessibility rates for all of them. Another major challenge is the maintenance of quality over time.

What are your key learnings so far? What would you like to tell other organizations striving to offer more accessible and inclusive digital products and services?

Our main learning has come from our visually impaired customers themselves. They do not want to have different and adapted applications to operate, but they demand to operate from the same and unique app that the rest of the customers operate. That is what we are working on.

On the other hand, the focus on accessibility has to be something that is driven from top management so that it permeates the entire organization.

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