To digitalize the customer experience, banks must review their business processes, something heavily impacted by this transformation. Banks need to ensure they have addressed a number of factors before starting.

Identify the target processes and the associated customer proposition

Digital is forcing banks to put the customer back at the heart of their concerns.  Faced with a demand for instantaneous responses, personalization, and simplicity, banks need to reinvent and review both their offerings and processes.

To do this, once the decision to digitalize has been taken, the following questions need to be considered in order to define a digitalized target process:

  • What does an analysis of the current process reveal, from both the customer and adviser perspectives (problem areas, pockets with high potential gains, etc.)?
  • What is the business goal (customer proposition, the offer, service levels, segmentation, etc.)?
  • What are the associated customer journeys (target customers, channels used, etc.)?
  • What will the impact be on the organization and distribution model? How will branch colleagues’ and back-office roles change?
  • If not already the case, how to simplify and streamline the processes in the various operating entities and maintain control of a single, coherent process for customers?

Build a functional goal with the key digital elements

One the target process has been defined, a functional goal and IS must be constructed to underpin them. When we talk about the digitalization of processes, we think of course of a reduction in paperwork (contracts, statements, etc.) and using technology to support customer interactions (online transfers and balance checks, email notifications, interacting in real-time via phone, video, or chat, etc.)

But beyond this, digitalizing a process also involves addressing the bank’s other channels in order to offer a truly cross-channel experience, on any device and with more autonomy. Completing a funding application from a PC, finalizing a loan with an adviser on a tablet, electronically signing a document and releasing funds using a smartphone…these are examples of customer journeys that are both digital and multi-channel.

In order to offer this type of journey, banking information systems must become more flexible, to allow the exchange of data between the different blocks of the IS, as transactions take place and at speeds ever-closer to real time. Parts of the business must be visible on, and accessible from, the various different channels, all organized in a way that allows the customer to manage their journey autonomously and remotely. Finally, the consolidation of a 360° view of the customer and their activities is essential in order to offer a truly consistent customer journey.

Internally, the digitalization of processes also has an impact on the attitude and working environments of employees. The automation of processes and tasks helps to refocus on giving advice and other value-adding activities.

Looking at all the various elements, there is a raft of building blocks that banks need to put in place. Once the functional and IS objectives are set, it is essential to prioritize these blocks, in order to establish a roadmap and implement an appropriate methodology.

Establish a phased and adaptable plan, prioritizing flexibility

Digitalizing a customer process is not just about optimizing what exists. There is also the disruption that change brings (new ways of working, new attitudes, etc.) requiring strong buy-in from the players involved and cross-functional thinking, from the front to the back office.

For this, a tight project group must be created from the relevant players to ensure that all points of view can be heard and the new, customer-centered, approach accepted. It is also the critical success factor in involving these players during the implementation phase, as well as the launch itself.

Adopting a flexible approach in this sort of project can:

  • allow for a phased implementation with regular gains for both customers and the employees, while avoiding a tunnel effect,
  • control risks by adopting a “test & learn” approach in order to test the parameters of the online system (customer experience, functional, technical, etc.), but also to drive internal change and achieve concrete results to report.

How to construct the timeline? What areas to prioritize? Two aspects can be combined when considering how to build the timeline: first, identify the features that will have the greatest impact for the customer (the value approach); and, second, identify potential quick wins by putting in place very simple optimizations that offer maximum operational gain in the short term.

Faced with the challenge of eliminating work duplication, adopt a coaching approach

Given the scope of what needs to be addressed, the organizational complexity and diversity of business issues in their various markets, banks must combine several elements during the implementation phase as they digitalize customer processes:

  • establish a business/IS masterplan that allows the overall path for the digitalization of the bank’s processes, underpinned by strong sponsorship, to inspire
  • and develop momentum
  • develop a coaching strategy during operational implementation, to help drive ownership within the different entities.

This coaching strategy can be focused on three simple principles:

  • guidelines specifying the minimum standards for what makes a process “digital ready”, which are shared by everyone in the company
  • the availability of experts who can provide support to catalyze thinking on redesigning processes and bring a flexible methodology to project teams.
  • an online community, involving the various project teams, which allows people to share lessons learned and best practice.

This transformation process, part and parcel of the digitalization of the customer journey, must be seen, more than ever, as fitting into a continuous improvement loop. Refining the customer promise means measuring and steering the overall performance delivered.