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Spotting the Elephant in the Room

The old adage that ‘you may want a Ferrari, but do you really need a Ferrari’ has never been more relevant than in the banking sector at present.

Whilst many banks, rightly, have been developing their technology backbone and improving their systems and procedures - which let’s face it, almost universally were terrible - and are now a lot better, many are missing opportunities to innovate in very simple ways, which deliver a massive impact to the business’ bottom line.

Technology is always a dangerous place to start when creating new experiences. Experiences are, after all, are about people, so people are where organizations should begin the journey of transformation.

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By understanding your customers, plotting your existing customer journey and understanding where the pain-points are in that, it is possible to very quickly identify and prioritize where your investments will have the biggest impact… and by investments, I am talking about investments in physical, digital, people and processes.

It is so tempting to invest in, and deploy technology, thinking that this will cut costs and deliver a positive impact to your bottom line, and in some instances, it will but in my experience, organizations should also look at the technology they have and make sure that they are gaining the maximum return on their investment in that.

Recently, I was meeting with clients in Africa, and to my surprise, and disappointment, they had the latest technologies deployed in their physical environment but had not concentrated on ensuring how these technologies could be leveraged to have a positive impact on the experience customers had in their branches. It was almost as if they had bought the technology and placed it in their branches with the expectation that it would deliver results. This unsurprisingly does not work… what was missing was a coherent customer journey, in which, technology was placed to help customers by improving convenience, simplicity and trust.

For example, and I have mentioned this before, but linking the queuing system to the digital screens in branches, the bank will be able to ensure the messages they are showing on their screens match the needs of the customers in the branch - simple? Yes, this was the first elephant in the room.

Secondly, by working with technology providers and customer experience designers, it is possible to improve interactions with technologies, making them smart and adaptive to each and every customer and their needs is really quite simple and will result in pain-free, quick, delightful customer experiences - simple? Yes. This was the second elephant in the room.

Thirdly, simple technologies are available which ensure that customer do not have to speak to the bank’s representative through a glass divider (I understand that glass is necessary in some markets for security reasons, but not all), by removing the glass screens between customers and bank staff, the dynamic of the conversation changes completely - without compromising security - simple? Yes. This was the third elephant in the room.

Fourthly, why, oh why, do banks still fail to employ a well dressed, polite and helpful meeter greeter in their branches? If I had a dollar for every helpful security guard I had met when I visit bank branches, I would be a very rich man. Seriously, the first point of contact with a customer is the most important. It gives you an opportunity to speak directly to your customer, share your hospitality and lead them on the customer journey you have defined - simple? Yes. This is the fourth elephant in the room.

Finally, visiting the bank branch is so often a painful necessity for many customers. It is akin to visiting a dentist or doctor. By making simple changes like improving lighting, improving decor, ensuring that customers are not bombarded with hundreds of messages they will not remember will make the experience of visiting the bank branch a pleasant one. Customers will feel at ease and a relaxed and happy customer is a customer who will trust you and one with whom you can do business.

So, as you see, by starting with your customer, by shaping a customer journey that fits your brand and business strategy, you will see growth, you will see retention and you will see opportunities for improvement staring you in the face.

Good luck.

About the Author Nicholas Griffin is Managing Director at Principle Global (

#retaildesign #digitalbanking #digitalbank #customerjourney #digital #digitalexperience #design