Customer service

Customer-centricity and service design in building societies

Peter Neufeld - Partner, EY-Seren

Peter Neufeld - Partner, EY-Seren

How can banks and building societies become more customercentric in the way they design products and services? Peter Neufeld, Partner, EMEIA Financial Services Lead at EY-Seren; a leading customer experience consultancy explains.


At EY we run significant quantitative and qualitative research, and what we learn when we talk to customers in the UK is that banks run the risk of becoming less relevant to the financial lives of their customer. Changing consumer behaviour and need, a rapid pace of digital transformation and adoption across segments, coupled with an evolving competitive digital landscape expanding to include Challenger Banks and Fintechs will require retail banks to become more customer-centric in how they design products and services. In my experience there are four things successful teams will need to do in order to harness customer insights to product and service innovation.

Focus on customer insight and co-creation

Bringing customers into the design process, through initial research, co-creation sessions, and concept testing, is critical in order to design experiences that meet their needs. In our experience, weekly engagement with customers in the design and development process can create exceptional results. The access to customer insights and validation throughout the design process allows teams to identify unmet needs sooner and build a richer model for customer behaviour across segments.

Measure behaviour change in customers

Analytics can provide insight into how consumers use digital channels to engage with products and services, but it must be tied to consumer behaviour through qualitative research to help guide and coordinate customer journey enhancements. For example, variations in the frequency and pattern of ‘check balance’ events on a mobile banking app may indicate additional financial need, but that need can only be identified by tying that quantitative pattern to insights derived from qualitative research. In many cases, changes in behaviour offer valuable insights into consumer need and help refine and mature end to end customer journeys to be more effective.

Start small, pivot quickly and prepare for scale

Co-creation and behaviour measurement means we are constantly testing and validating new concepts and experiences and will need to be able to rapidly assess success, make changes as required, and continually mature the experience as we drive to take new experiences to scale. This new way of working can be a challenge to adopt in traditional financial services environments and will require support from leadership, high performing, cross-functional Service Design teams and importantly new development environments that can support rapid prototyping and customer testing.

Help people make better financial decisions

Finally, start with a focus on helping people make better financial choices and decisions for themselves and the people that matter most in their lives. We believe that empathy is the cornerstone of any design process and moving beyond financial transactions with purpose to understand and design solutions that help customer navigate their complex financial lives will be a differentiator in this market. Under the right circumstances they will change their financial service provider for that.

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