Why has a people-first approach become so vital for banks?

Gabrielle Lovering: I joined Backbase because I saw that banks have a real opportunity to improve their digital banking experiences. But that starts with the customer.

Companies such as Amazon and Spotify put people at the centre of everything they do. Their entire business models are designed around what their customers are interested in.

“Find out what they love and give them more of it.” Banks could learn a lot from that mantra.

How does this customer-first precept feed into banks’ digital transformation programmes?

G.L.: If customers don’t like or interact with what you design and build it, will be a wasted effort. Too often projects become bloated, as multiple stakeholders with different opinions are involved in the decision making.

Instead, banks should get early input through speaking directly with their customers during the redesign. Combining this with analytics from real interaction on Beta and Pilot releases generate powerful insights that will drive more customer-centric decisions.

Successful digital businesses do this well. They’re agile and evolve quickly because they’re constantly scrutinising the analytics and talking to customers. Digital leaders like Amazon then focus on providing a connected product offering, delivered to customers in an integrated package that gives them the convenience and speed they have come to expect.

Traditional banks though are often driven by outdated assumptions about their customers, based on demographically-oriented persona profiles, rather than behaviour-driven ones. And organisationally they are structured around siloed products and businesses, powered by separate systems and databases, which produces disjointed customer experiences and ineffective customer relationship management.

Banks must therefore learn to build products and services around a personalised, behavioural-based view of their customers, to give them what they want, when and how they want it.

What can banks do to create that more personalised, multi-channel experience?

G.L.: For me, personalisation doesn’t mean providing a unique experience. It is about creating a relevant experience.

The industry buzz is all around using artificial intelligence to build dynamic user profiles and serve up micro content at the right point and time. But you don’t need AI to improve and personalise the customer experience.

The key lies in holistic customer data – having a joined-up view of every individual, so the different parts of the bank can work off a unified profile of each person. Using that data, banks can drive more targeted, relevant content towards their customers. Giving people control over their own experience through self-servicing or settings within your digital environment builds trust and removes pain-points.

Delivering a high-quality, omni-channel service is a huge technology challenge though. Providing customers with a consistent, joined-up experience from any touchpoint is no longer enough. Banks need to remove any friction points – such as unnecessary bureaucracy and long-winded application processes – to create fast, seamless journeys through each of these multi-channel paths if they are to keep up with the digital challengers.

How can the UX design process help banks achieve a more customer-centric approach?
How do you create that change mentality in staff?

G.L.: Banks typically take too long in the design phase. They’ll spend six months trying to design this incredible digital banking experience, and it always significantly increases the delivery cycle.

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Start thinking about user migration plans from the start of the process and get an early beta release out as quickly as possible. Then use analytics and feedback to test what customers really want. Those insights can inform subsequent design evolutions, resulting in small and frequent updates rather than Big Bang projects.

The emphasis should be on designing the user experience with your customers, instead of spending two years trying to design it for your customers. You’ll get something out the door quicker and will produce a customer-led user experience that will help you keep up with your digital rivals.

Backbase can help here. The fundamental journeys within banking products, such as onboarding, have already been architected into the Backbase platform. By providing banks with out-of-the-box solutions, we can free them to concentrate on developing those more customer-oriented experiences that make the biggest difference.

Are there ways for banks to encourage more customer loyalty to combat the threat from challengers?

Traditional banks have a window of opportunity over the next few years while digital banks’ service ranges remain relatively thin. Traditional banks have a much broader and deeper product offering at the moment, which gives them a lot of daily touchpoints with customers, whether it’s through payments or transactions at the terminal.

Those touchpoints provide chances for banks to offer their customers more positive experiences. These more positive engagements will make it more likely banks can retain their customers and build on those relationships.




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