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The real journey behind customer journeys

  • David Vila

    Omnichannel Leader, Consumer Banking

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Almost every bank today is doing some type of customer journey mapping or redesign. However, customers continue to have many of the same customer-experience challenges that they have had for a while.

For example, customers at one of the UK's top banks face a particularly difficult process for accessing secure messages from the bank's own mobile app. They must go through eight different steps, including being pushed out of the app to a website not optimized for mobile, at which point they have to re-authenticate. This limits the usability of the app, as well as the overall customer experience and satisfaction. In comparison, challenger-bank Monzo offers real-time chat-style messaging.

To deliver a superior experience, banks need to transform the front, middle, and back offices.

Front-to-back transformation requires:

  • Participation from cross-functional teams representing the areas directly and indirectly involved in the process. It is particularly important to involve the people responsible for the operations underlying the current and future customer experience
  • Participation from technology teams to identify what needs to be done and, more importantly, how to do it, and then to execute it
  • Measuring the impact. This means defining new sets of key performance indicators and diagnostic measures, and providing the necessary change management to embrace a customer-first, go-to-market strategy

This front-to-back customer journey transformation is important right now because of three factors:

  • Increasing customer expectations
  • Aggressive growth of startups
  • Changes in technology

In today's digital-first world, in which customers can ask almost anything to their smart speakers, ease-of-use expectations are rising exponentially. If customers have a problem, they should be able to click a button to resolve it. Better still, the problem should have been avoided in the first place.

Such expectations are reinforced by an increasing number of startups that are focused on successfully meeting those expectations. Whether it is quick, paperless loans, no-fee AI-guided investing, or low-cost immediate international money transfers, challengers are bridging the gap between growing customer expectations and slow-moving incumbent banks.

Of course, all of this is possible thanks to the significant changes in technology that makes mass customization and automation possible. Examples of such technologies include:

  • Machine learning and artificial intelligence, which enable companies to automate and accelerate processes that used to require people to review and make decisions
  • Various real-time communication channels

Banks need to get serious about improving their customers' journeys. They need to look at every single step of the journey and question every single hurdle that their customers face, even if it is rooted deep in the back office. Indeed, now that most banks have advanced digital front-ends, the key to improving the customer experience is to look at the middle- and back-office processes that have been neglected for decades. It is important to use technology to reimagine these less-evident contributors to customer experience. To make this happen, customer journey redesign must be a multidisciplinary cross-functional effort, felt and sponsored throughout the bank, not just by the digital, marketing, or line of business areas.

What do you think? Has your organization undertaken customer experience redesign efforts? What impact have you seen? What lessons have you learned?

This blog was first published in Finextra.

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