Paving The Way For A Mature Customer Centric Culture At Swedbank

Knowledge / Inspiration

Paving The Way For A Mature Customer Centric Culture At Swedbank

Product Direction
UXDX Europe 2020

The banking industry is currently undergoing a step change in customer expectations. In this talk, Mall will outline how Swedbank is meeting these increased expectations by adapting the learnings from global studies about the "business value of design".

  • How to increase the customer satisfaction
  • How the team can create holistic experiences

Hi, I'm Mall Allpere. I'm a Design Expert at Swedbank.
The bank, as we know it is facing great challenges and bank experience are now compared not only to FinTech’s but also to the likes of Netflix and the banks that meet this challenge, the best they will be the winners. At Swedbank top management realised the threat and the opportunity in this, and also the importance of the user experience in winning this game.
So, in the 2017, they gave the go ahead to grow the UX group at Swedbank. At that time, the UX group was small and scattered. The team grew from 13 to 27 in one year to 52 and then the following year and now we are at 81 including consultants. Now, already when we were 27 and I came in as a Team Manager for part of the team, we started a journey to professionalize the team to step up to this challenge. We grouped the designers in Development Train Groups to mirror the organization around. Put in place lead UX designers and gave the mandate to align and to lead, create a design system group and the designops and the foundation research group. But even if we in UX design had done our homework to professionalize and grow the team, Swedbank did not get the full effect of UX and customer centricity throughout the bank. There was something missing. The practice of UX and design and customer centricity were not enough integrated in the business and development. It wasn't seen as everybody's job and the holistic experience was not was not addressed by all. Even though we had some great examples of cooperating. We met hurdles in prioritization, doing the right things and in being trusted in a good way of working, doing them right.
So, Lotta Loven, Head of Digital and IT, our CIO challenged my manager, Lynn Marie and myself to evangelize customer centricity. Last year, she gave us the opportunity to speak and workshop with hundreds of leaders at Swedbank. So, we thought carefully about how to get our message through in the best way and we found four starting points. Creates a sense of urgency but at the same time, a promise or good business. Build from external research and examples. Celebrate a few good examples of from in house to make everybody understand how we, ourselves could do it well. Four, straight talk. Address all rumors and misconceptions and this is how we did it.
We took inspiration from that Lynn and I had the opportunity to meet with William Nicholson, who had turned SAS into a flourishing airline company already in the 80s, understanding the business value or putting the customer in the center. We told the managers that he got everybody in SAS to stop flying airplanes and start flying people. Baggage loaders, pilots, airline technicians, everybody had a role in delivering the best customer experience. What a mind shift. With this as an inspirational image, we urged all those managers to be the change leaders for a mature and customer centric Swedbank by inspiring them to see how we together with them could create better business through experiences and to create experiences by design. We talked to them about design as a process, a way of working to understand the need of the customer and create solutions for it, but also design, a functional and aesthetic result based on conscious decisions. We started by inducing a sense of urgency. One brand's gold standards become the price of admission for everyone. Even if earlier our digital experience had been compared to other large banks. Now, customers, jobs and compare experiences across industries and make no difference whether they deliver a niche service like FinTech’s or a service ecosystem like we do. And our experience was not that all that high level yet. There was a gap that we couldn't leave unattended. To close this gap, old banks like ours needed to deliver on customer satisfaction on a much higher level. A great challenge but we put on a positive tone and said that we didn't have it to invite and invent how to do it ourselves, because there's a proven recipe that's helped companies with challenges like ours and that is customer centric designed. But for those companies who's used the recipe well, it has been proven that the business reward is huge. So, when you evangelize like this, you have to know your audience and, in a bank, money and numbers talk. So, we gave them the well-researched fact that companies with well-integrated customer centered design, outperforms the market by no less than 211% in return. And we also needed to give them the rational reasons behind. We told them that this is the cost of increased revenues, high loyalties, lower costs. Now, we had established the customer centricity is good for business and why we turned to what Swedbank as a company needed to do to get that great revenue.
Again, we used the outside world to enforce our points, knowing that in our company, advice from experts from outsides are valued highly. So, we took the well-known McKinsey studies. This is the largest research made today to study design actions that leaders can take to unlock business value. And we presented the clusters of design actions that show the most correlation with improved financial performance. And talked about them as a recipe for success and inspiration when maturing the Swedbank customer centricity, we then adjusted this recipe to the Swedbank needs. The first cluster to inspire was that most successful companies set customer centered goals and measure on behavior. They drive the same performance with the same rigor as revenues and costs. They said goals on behavior by phrasing the goals as descriptions of the decide behavior, how you want your customers to act, feel or think. For each of the clusters we gave external examples. We talked about AT&T that had a business goal to raise their customers average monthly billing by 10%. They reframe the business goal to how can we help busy families to stay connected. We at Swedbank had already started to change our KPIs and goals. Putting a clear focus on customer satisfaction. But after our speech, we saw a major shift in mindset at Swedbank. Before this, we had goals like we need to sell more in the front page. Now, they turned into the goals and behaviors like we need to maximize customer value in the front page so our customers want to be there. To us as design, this showed a clear shift in focus from business only to business and customer focus. The second class that we took inspiration from outside the bank and made into ours was making sure that customer satisfaction is everybody's job. Before it was seen as a UX design job together and spread customer understanding. Now, we started to evangelize that because everybody in the company from CEO to backend programmer of internal too has effect on the customer experience. This means that everybody needs to understand the customer and know how to act. The only way to understand the customer is to meet them. To make this shift happen, we put in place habits and trainings for everybody in the company. During last year and ongoing, we have had the training open for everybody one day course on customer centered design for non-designers. A fun, interactive and professional training by our highly skilled research team. We see in effect already in the daily work of all of those who has attended the course.
In the McKinsey report it says, the CEO of one of the world's largest banks spends a day a month with bank's clients. The day after we presented this, the whole management team of Digital Banking spent half a day at our phone bank and listening in. We also made sure that meeting customers was natural to have in people's development plans. We suggested to take part in interviewing customers, usability tests, phone bank visits. It has helped everybody to understand what the customer are different than us and that we ourselves are not representative, but we are not the customer. So, on top of the all, we put in place just that as a mantra. We got everybody to stand up in her speeches to say, I am not the customer. I am not the customer. You are not the customer. So, go, let's go out and meet them. The third ingredient we used as an inspiration is to prototype. Test and learn. Our message was that using the right customer centric methods, fast and iterative together is minimizing risk and risk is something any bank wants to minimize. Prototype, test and learn is the Agile development mantra, and it's also the customer centered design mantra. In Swedbank, we were already well on the way in Agile and customer centered journey. But we saw that there was room for improvement in linking these two in our way of working, we had misconceptions about the methods, especially for learning and testing. So, we started to address those misconception with straight talk. The methods were also not spread into all cross functional development teams.
So, to put that into actual, we found four areas of improvement that I will talk about now. We spread the design process that's what Swedbank as a well-known used by all companies, a design process - all companies that are serious about experiences. But this process only works when it's fully integrated in the cross functional teams. So, to put that into action, we use the most efficient trick which is to create understanding of the process. We made a three-hour workshop where hundreds of participants got to try out all the steps of the design process guided by professional designers. It was a great success and you could really feel how the light bulb started to lit up. As they learned interview techniques like Firewise and mapping needs into customer journeys before creating ideas. We also needed to demystify the methods to get rid of all the misconceptions about what the methods are for and this is how we tell the story. In user research, we conduct interviews, observations. It asks us why and gives us ideas to build the right things to close that experience gap. Then we talked about how UX design create designs and prototypes that we test in usability test. We test how the users managed to complete the test. It validates if our solutions work well for real users but usability test decreases risk, much cheaper to fail here than to do with when it's out in the market. And then last but not least the Quant methods analyzing, build services through analytics, /AB testing, et cetera. The Quant gives us insights where and how many customers do a certain thing. We said that these methods complement each other fully and give the most back to business when they are used together. Especially the qualitative methods need to be demystified for those who are not educated in them.
In Swedbank and in many other places I have been to, there has been this disbelief in the number of customers to interview in qualitative research. So, in fact, Lotta, our CIO asked me to explain why that works in front of all of this large audience and I tell you it was a bit uncomfortable, but it really did put a stop to the other questions. In addition, we have found that when members of the cross functional team join usability testing the backlog propels faster forum because fewer discussions and iterations are needed. With so many teams that we started to do usability testing reoccurring every second week or every month, the teams together, the plans that need a test with a UX designer so that they can learn about the things they're working on right now. So, they can design as correct as possible in time before code starts. A common misunderstanding was that we in UX wanted to make big, bulky research project out of everything. So, we needed to be clear about that it's perfectly fine to be pragmatic when it comes to finding the right level of research and to get that right level. We ask us these four questions before we start to research, is it an improvement of a function that already exists? Is it a new unexplored area? Do we know what the customer's needs are? Is it a function that's often used by the customer? And what is the impact for the business if conversion is low? This explanation helped a lot for the clearing out that misunderstanding. But even better is to show the right pragmatic level in action. When moving the insurances from the old internet bank to the new design, because there was already a plan test the team managed in just two weeks, go full circle from starting requirements until we had a concept based on customer insight. Quick and clean. In fact, this gave us credibility and helped us to create room for much larger research. The last message we needed to spread was that successful companies support the holistic experience. They understand that customers don't talk about our company's silos, they don't care. They understand that they need to treat every single delivery as a part of a whole. To understand map and act on the customer's whole needs because successful companies use service design methods such as customer journey mapping. We at Swedbank had been working with customer journey maps for several years and it is by far the most impactful tool to center any team or organization around doing the right thing for the customer. We just needed to convince the audience to use the customer journey map even more. Not only for insight but as a tool for privatisation and knowing what to do.
To enforce our point even more, we used Airbnb as an example. By using the customer journey map, they went from seeing the website and the app as the actual product into seeing the whole trip from the dream to getting home again as the product and this shift in the company led to exponential growth. The lending area at Swedbank was already much more designed mature than the others. So, we use the lending process as a hero project. Creating a beautiful easy to read map, this so that other development trains would understand better. But also understanding that the customer journey stands over different parts of the organization and even begins outside our channels. Something that has helped turning everybody to design for the holistic experience.
So, this was some, or what we at Swedbank did to become more mature and customer centricity integrated not only in design, but also in product management and development. We got our message through by consistently sticking to these four starting points throughout our storytelling, create a sense of urgency, but at the same time a promise of good business. Build from external research and examples, celebrate a few good examples from in house to make everybody understand how we could do it well. Straight talk, address on rumors and misconception. All of this resulted in, that not only UX, but everyone is on board with the fact that when doing more customer centered design actions, we become more efficient by doing the right things and doing them right and we increase customer satisfaction when we make it everybody's job to create the holistic experience. And we are now on a good path to start flying our own customers, which would help us to ensure that this bank will win in the new customer’s landscape. Thank you.

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