It has been a few busy weeks following my visit to Madrid for the Global Service Design Conference in early November. The theme of this years’ edition was ‘service design at scale’, reflecting the service design community’s desire to implement service design principles and methods within range of organisations at an international level. A couple of days with a fantastic range of talks, presentations and breakout sessions included speakers from BBVA, ING, TD Bank Group, Capital One, IBM, UK Government Digital Services, Deloitte, Fjord, IBM, Southwest Airline and Uber. Attendees from all over the world, various industries and domains of expertise, coming together to learn, share and network. The highlight was the inspiring exchange of experiences, ideas, challenges, lessons learned and different perspectives between creative service design practitioners, business and technology experts.
I’ve picked out some observations that I thought were interesting and especially relevant to the financial services sector, one of the key industry focus points in this year agenda.
Service design is transforming financial services…
The conference started with the keynote presentation from Louise Downe, the Head of UK Government Digital Services with the key message: ‘strategy is delivery‘. Design shows you what should be done to benefit a business and a customer or a user. Technology, on the other hand defines what can be done and therefore more and more organisations are integrating two often separate functions to focus on delivery. Service Design is not about the ability of a service designer to design a service, but about ability of an organization to deliver that service. Still too many financial services organisations benchmark themselves to be best in class within their sector misunderstanding the lens through which today consumers perceive their experiences with their services. Customers of a bank are more likely to be setting their expectations on their experiences of mobile providers, successful technology platforms such as Amazon, AirBnB, Uber, or customer services from Apple or Virgin Atlantic; rather than on what they may have encountered just in the banking sector.
Throughout the conference service design leaders from BBVA, Capital One and ING shared their journey of adopting service design to transform their service offering. The team from BBVA noted that often ‘the most stressful thing in a human’s life is money,’ and therefore the role of the financial services is not just to manage people’s money but to support the customer to minimise their stress (eliminating and removing customer pains), maintain trust, offer simple guidance or advice and help customers plan and maintain their financial well-being (generating a customer value proposition based on customer gains linked to customer emotional and functional needs).
BBVA was one of the co-sponsor of the conference this year and the key presenter. The bank made design a strategic function within their organization. Digital banking and the development of latest-generation of digital products and services have shaped financial services evolving towards a new model – one that aims to be closer, more humane and focused on the customer. Derek White, BBVA’s Global Head of Customer and Client Solutions, and Rob Brown, Head of Marketing, Design and Responsible Business at BBVA, shared their journey and mandate, as well as where the organization is heading in the next few years. The bank has developed a multidisciplinary design function that employs hundreds of multidisciplinary designers allocated to various projects: from IT, digital, products to interior design of their branches. Technology becomes a delivery arm, whereas it is the design function that becomes strategic for BBVA and other customer centric organisations. 60% of projects at BBVA include allocated designers, with the goal to get to 100%. Each project needs design, business and technology expertise on the team (the triangle) and service designers play a key role in this setup. Here you will find more on BBVA design approach with interesting case studies and references to design thinking tools.
Journeys are key in the digital world, that is why we see journey manager roles appearing in more and more companies. This trend is becoming stronger over time as companies realize the benefit of journey manager function working at the cross road of design, development, operations and business strategy to represent the customer voice and to be accountable for the quality of the end to end customer experience across the entire journey as well as ongoing business management of all the customer touch-points constituting the journey. ING has over 170 customer journey experts in their Dutch headquarter and is deploying the roles in other markets. The bank has developed design squads to tackle major transformation challenges and opportunities across the bank. The squads are self-steering and autonomous, include both business and technology resources (up to 9 team members) and are empowered to delivered on a clear purpose. There are currently over 350 squad teams tackling various challenges or opportunities at ING.
There are three major challenges that financial services are facing today: changing regulations, FinTech and technology innovation, and deficit of trust. Service Design helps to address all of these. Developing and standarizing design function and service design toolkit across the organization helps to address those challenges and respond in a design-led approach both from the head-office and at the peripheries of an organization. When designing a service, the online aspects are often key components of the service delivery but still need to sit alongside physical and human touchpoints that must be considered. Larry Keelye shared an interesting perspective on how human-centred design enables innovation across business configuration (business model-centric innovation), offering and experience (services, channels, brands, customer engagement). Innovation today is about integration of structures, processes, platforms, business models and services along the online customer journeys.
The fundamentals of Human Centred Design are more relevant than ever, go back to end-users, understand their needs and pains deeply and build from the ground up a digital eco-system enabling a desired customer experience. Service designers play a key role in the success of innovation and digital transformation initiatives by implementing design principles in their work and helping to create teams that are willing to work on complexity to turn it into something simple and remarkable for customers; a next break-through customer value proposition such as Amazon Prime, AirBnB, Uber or WeChatPay.
Only banks that become design-led ’digital houses’ will survive ongoing disruption…