I recently sat down with a bank customer that is making a transformation through their digital strategy while maintaining the high touch value of their brand. I met with Cassandra who is the Director of Digital Payments and Solutions at the bank and Don who is the Director of Customer Experience at the bank. We discussed the User Experience and User Interface (UX/UI) phase of their mobile project, digital trends in the banking industry, and threats that exist for banks in the current digital atmosphere. The transcript of that conversation is below:

Corey:

Tell me about the experience that the bank has had with CRi during the UX/UI phase of the mobile redesign and how the team is using customer data to inform the mobile redesign. Can you tell me about the process, your experience and the pros and cons?

Cassandra:

I thought CRi put together an impressive set of data including both customer feedback and analytics.  We sometimes have jumped into initiatives and not looked at those in conjunction. CRi did a really good job of showcasing both. We were able to supply a lot of information CRi’s way which was then analyzed, interpreted, and put it in a different light. There were some things that came out in the results that we hadn’t known.

Don:

From a customer experience perspective, the part I really appreciated is that CRi started with asking a lot of great questions before jumping right into design work: such as what does success look like, what were the drivers of this initiative, who are you trying to redesign for and what do you know about them already. CRi helped the bank provide clarity on what we really wanted to accomplish and prioritize, how we wanted to define success and a roadmap to get there. This allowed us to be more strategic with the effort vs. simply redesigning our mobile app in order to have more customers use and it and use it more often.

Corey:

What was the outcome of looking at your target data; and what did your target end up being?

Cassandra:

We have a lot of data as to where customers spend time and what functions they perform in our mobile app. For example, something that has low frequency of activity could be a result of our current design not enabling the ability to find the function or it may not be a high priority feature for our customers. Looking at the data made us pause and figure out what we should put as a high priority or part of the backlog.

Don:

I would agree with Cassandra, I assumed going in to our first meeting we all kind of knew what we were trying to build as well as for who we were trying to build for, but it was obvious as CRi started asking questions that the bank wasn’t as aligned as I thought we were.  Even when we began breaking down work into features it was great to use those customer insights to challenge ourselves as to whether or not it should even be added to the backlog. Usually we get ourselves into a rabbit hole conversation and through the process that CRi took us through, we’ve been able to pull everybody back and say here’s the data and only ‘one percent of customers even look at that screen. Let’s move that down to the bottom of our backlog. It kept us from wasting a lot of time on things that that really didn’t matter at the end of the day.

Corey:

That’s great feedback to hear that you’ve minimized your time working on things that aren’t important. Was there anything, that if you would not have gone through CRi’s process of looking at your customer data as intensely as you did, that you would have missed?

Cassandra:

Not the data analysis so much as the customer prototype testing that we did with CRi. For example: we may have built scheduled payments in a different location prior to the customer prototype testing. Based on customer feedback, we moved the location during three different iterations and will use the beta test to gather even more feedback. That feature would have been built the first time based on our assumptions as well as what we thought customer data was telling us. What we found out going through the prototyping process was a little different.

Don:

It is just human nature to want to design things based on what we like versus what our customers might necessarily want or prefer. The iterative testing we did with CRi really helped to ensure that didn’t happen.

Cassandra:

Agreed!

Corey:

So, I’m going to shift to some industry level questions to get your thoughts and insights. Big shifts are happening in the banking industry, and I have been doing a fair amount of research and what I’m seeing is that many big banks are opening or starting new brands for their digital only brands/banks. You and I both know it’s not quite feasible for many banks because of the expense and resources that takes. What are banks, that are mid-market regional in size (your size), doing to compete against that?

Cassandra:

We will continue to build up our digital infrastructure and add new features and functionality while relying on our customer experience to set us apart. We know customers will have a better experience when they interact with us than at a large bank due to the level of customer service we provide.

Don:

Again, I would agree with Cassandra. Here’s what I would say when it comes to digital; we talk a lot about needing to fill the competitive gaps and I don’t disagree with that. But I would caution against attempting to leap frog a Chase or a Citi or whoever else.  We will never spend the amount of money that those guys are on this type of work. We just can’t outspend them in this space.  We just have to make sure we don’t fall too far behind to where the customers that are with us leave because we haven’t kept up with the industry in terms of a digital strategy and because it’s so much more convenient to bank elsewhere. So, I think we continue to challenge ourselves digitally to stay comparable to those larger brands but do it in a way that our personality is still embedded. That way we maintain our personal touch that our customers chose us for versus a digital self-serve do it all on your own.

Corey:

One of the other things that I’ve seen in my research, is that banks your size are looking to what the retail industry is doing digitally and they’re prioritizing projects and initiatives into their digital strategies that are influencing the experience inside of a branch. Are you guy’s looking at any of that? Can you speak to that?

Cassandra:

Yes, we consider how the digital experiences we build will influence or impact the branch environment. We have put touchscreens in a few of our branch locations to test, learn and understand how to weave a seamless experience between mobile, web and the branches.

Corey:

Is there anything influencing mobile redevelopment at all in that area, like scheduling meetings and/or digital assistants?

Cassandra:

Back to the personal touch we talked about. Instead of a digital meeting scheduler, we like to have a banker call the customer to ensure we have an optimal experience to start the relationship.

Don:

If you think about where we are on our mobile redesign, there are still some core functionalities that we won’t be able to deliver as part of this project because of our infrastructure. So, I would hope we wouldn’t work on the ability to schedule appointments without having some of those bigger boulders done first. But as far as the non-digital channels I think about it this way, digital is not just a channel it’s our way of life. I think of the strategies that we have in our branches where our customers can interact on the touch screens as our first attempt to bridge the gap between doing everything all online or doing it all in the branch and instead make it so that experience feels connected and seamless. There has been a belief for some time now that we are way behind the eight ball when it comes to being able to open a new account online. What we found, through data and research, is that a lot of people, as far as their first account with you, still feel more comfortable doing it face-to-face because there is a certain amount of trust needed when we are going to hold their money for them. What our digital strategy is truly tackling is then how to best manage that account, on day two, and so on.  Nobody opens a checking account just for the number.  They do so because of what they want to use that account for.

Corey:

If you could pick the top three digital initiatives that you guys are working on besides mobile what would they be?

Cassandra:

Redesigning our website, consolidation of multiple websites, and digital account opening (which includes deposit and credit card applications)

Corey:

With those that are your top initiatives, what are you seeing as barriers to success?

Don:

There are a couple of things:  One, strategy and vision on how those things are all connected, we must think about managing the customer across all of our different channels. Secondly, our core infrastructure, it’s been the main challenge with the mobile redesign, there are a lot of cool things you can do from a look and feel perspective, and then you’re like well let’s make it do X, only to find out that we would have to unwind a bunch of our core systems to even make that a possibility. The information that’s presented on our mobile device is only as good as the information we have in the back end and that is not where it needs to be.

Cassandra:

I agree with Don and would add one: how those priorities flow through our agile environment. We have evolved over the past year but we’re still learning and growing with the agile methodology.

Don:

And then bankrolling the resources to overcome all three.

Corey:

Are you experiencing any issues with your legacy architecture? I’m seeing, in the research I’ve done, that most banks are struggling with that as they try to move mobile forward.

Don:

We are hoping to get better at this than we have in the past, by running resources in parallel, one modernizing our technology while also still trying to complete key initiatives that help meet our business objectives. We are beginning to do those in tandem by carving out resources for both efforts instead of just focusing all of our efforts on new shiny objects.

Corey:

What issues surrounding digital strategies and mobile are keeping your executive team awake at night?

Cassandra:

One issue has to be fraud and how do we combat new ways people are committing fraud in the digital channel.

Don:

A couple of things that kind of come to mind. I think in the digital/fintech space we know for sure there will be disruption in the banking industry. However, being able to identify where that disruption is coming from is key, because I feel there are so many different kinds of things coming at us, it’s hard to stay on top of it all and then really know where to focus.  And while some of these might feel like a lot of small potential threats, when you pull back and look at the big picture you see a bunch of small threats slowly just picking away at us, at then at the end of the day the fear is, what’s left. There’s a lot going on digitally in the financial space, and I think we need to really find an effective way to sort through those to identify the ones that are serious threats versus just a fad that will eventually just go away as soon as market conditions change.

Corey:

You mentioned fad, do you see anything in the marketplace right now that you feel is a fad?

Cassandra:

I think the physical credit cards using biometrics are a fad because in the long term, I think physical cards will go away entirely.

Don:

This is just top of mind for me but one of the particular fads I see is the, freeze your card functionality. I don’t know how widely used that is or that it really addressing the issue/root cause. It feels like a quick fix to something that I think is a lot bigger.

Corey:

Thank you both for your time and insights today.

 

If you would like more information on CRi’s customer research, banking industry expertise, or digital banking strategy expertise email us at gig@clientresourcesinc.com.

I’m a Digital Marketing Engineer who’s been with CRi since 2017 in Omaha, NE.  At CRi I strategize, manage, and execute marketing activities including SEO, Social Media, Direct Marketing, Event Marketing, Competitive Research, Industry Research, and Content Development. I have over 17 years of experience in marketing & branding, and have a degree from Wayne State College with a concentration in marketing. In my free time I enjoy fidgeting with new technologies, going fishing, boating, and sharing all those things with my family.

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