With consumers becoming more digitally savvy, their knowledge and expectations of digital technology means they now have a greater sense of digital empowerment. We’re now seeing is a direct relationship between the increased use of digital services and the
expectations of today’s users. But despite this, the financial industry has faced a severe reputational backlash over the years, and when it comes to digital services and the customer experience, it’s ranked pretty much bottom versus other sectors. The result?
The financial services sector is experiencing a perfect storm in terms of the need for digital services.
Combine the above with a very active regulator that’s focused on transparency for the customer, and you now have an industry that’s increasingly looking for new and innovative ways to deliver products and services.
Despite this search for improvement, it’s obvious that many financial services companies are still way behind the curve in terms of the digital user experience they provide, but it doesn’t really need to be this way. By adopting a design-led approach to
developing propositions, the digital bar can be raised significantly.
Building for the future
One option is to take a leaf out of the process of designing buildings. When a company has a vision to build a new head office, the first thing they’ll do is employ an architect. At this early stage they certainly won’t invite construction companies to tender
for the work as it’s way too early to start thinking about building.
Following a detailed analysis of the company’s requirements and the land they want to build on, the architect will draw up plans for the new office. In addition they’ll probably create a computer generated vision of the exterior and interior as well as constructing
a physical model of the new office – these interactive prototypes are much more engaging and persuasive than just talking about an idea. Only once the model is approved would the process of construction begin. Why should digital deliveries within the financial
world be any different? In the same way that an architectural team would then present their vision to an expectant and excited Board of Directors, financial services should demand better insight into what they are getting before they buy.
Making the case for design
When financial services companies build or rebuild their digital propositions, it’s quite common for the builder to be selected some time before the architect. Today, technology outsourcing announcements occur fairly regularly – these third party technology
companies are essentially the builders. At the point of announcing a new outsourcing deal or major IT change programme, I wonder how many financial services CEOs have a working prototype of what the technology provider will be building. I suspect the answer
is ‘only a handful’. So if there’s no prototype of the desired digital service, how can the technology provider begin to understand it or even know if they can build it?
Companies are approaching big change programmes in the wrong way at the moment – it’s too much of an old school technology-led approach. Successful companies are focused on meeting or exceeding the expectations consumers and they’re acutely aware that a
great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a ‘make or break’ point for their business.
Too often the technology provider is given the green light and then the company tries to shoe-horn in a digital user experience part way through the project. The user experience is likely to then suffer from compromise after compromise, whilst at the same
time the project costs begin to quickly escalate.
There’s an alternative approach, which is to invest time and imagination into the design and prototyping stage at the beginning of a project – a design-led approach, which is user-centric. This will help the business visualise the art of the possible and
enable them to build a tangible vision of what they really want and most importantly, what works best for their customers. Getting the best from the technology partner will then be easier as they know what they’re building and the change programme should be
a smoother ride for everyone involved.
Maybe it’s about time the financial services industry tried a different approach? We know that a design-led approach works well in other industries, so why shouldn’t it work for finance.