How to Optimize the Banking Customer Experience in a Digital World

Twenty seven percent of respondents in a global Genpact consumer banking survey claim they would be comfortable setting up a new account with a digital assistant, such as Siri or Alexa. At the same time, 57% say speaking with someone in branch makes opening an account easier. As digital channels are on the rise, innovators are optimizing the banking customer experience across both human and digital channels. Yet many banks struggle to manage customer experiences across all touch points and channels—from the front-end through to the back-office process and systems that support it. Change requires shifting from a product-centric mindset, to one that is laser-focused on the customer journey from beginning to end.

While banking customer experiences are improving—silos, fragmented data, and rigid workflows often stand in the way of opening new accounts or resolving issues. For example, a customer may apply for a new trust account, only to find out in the final stages that you can’t complete the application process digitally and you have to call in. As a result, customers will simply move to another bank where the process is easier.

Past investments have been largely made in the front office, in areas like improving the user interface, or making mobile apps more functional or aesthetically pleasing. While the front-end user experience is critical, so too are the processes, data, and technology that support the journey.

A holistic approach: Journey-Driven Transformation

Leaders are taking a journey-driven transformation approach to optimize the digital banking experience, which requires multi-disciplined teams working across silos. The holistic approach organizes around customers and journeys, and connects consumer banking CX from front-to-back office. The foundation is based on qualitative data, such as user research, and quantitative data, to ensure that experiences map to the needs of customers and employees. Journey-driven transformation, which spans strategy through execution, fuses design thinking, agile methodologies, and user experience (UX) skills, supported by intelligent technologies that enable real-time data insights, visualization, and measurement.

Teams can identify where digital interventions can come into play, such as opportunities for dynamic workflow analytics, machine learning, or artificial intelligence—to drive innovation and bring streamlined experiences to customers. For instance, Bank of America’s roll-out of its virtual assistant enables customers to use voice commands, texts, or touch, receive account balances, transfer money, and schedule meetings with real representatives at financial centers. This type of innovation reflects a connected front to back experience.

Regardless of bank type or size, a few key principles can help you get started:

Organize around customers and journeys instead of products. Pull together key stakeholders and align around who the customer is. Conduct direct research to inform that understanding, and drive alignment around what customers want and need in interacting with your bank. We often start with mapping the current journey, and identifying the supporting processes and systems through to the back office and data. Leverage user experience (UX) combined with process skills to break down journey steps into measurable elements.

One large bank organized around life event triggers—defining journeys by looking at the different products and services needed to support the customer experience through that life event.  The process highlighted risk, e.g., where a customer might switch to another bank, and where the bank could be more proactive and predictive with multi-channel communications, offers, and alerts.

Use design thinking to reimagine the journey in its future state and understand the art of the possible. We use Lean Six Sigma to support the future state and drive creation of a roadmap which can help with alignment and prioritization. You can visually depict problems and opportunities for digital interventions across the front, middle, and back offices.

One consumer financial services provider asked us to look at call center data to determine where their biggest problems were. We correlated the data to the customer experience and determined that issues resided within a segment that the bank had not considered. The culprit was with the bank’s most valuable segment, where existing customers were calling in after encountering trouble opening a new account via the web.

Develop a CX measurement framework: As a best practice, define the business case and expected return. Measure consumer banking CX over time in a consistent manner. Start with a Sprint 0 as a foundational step. Use two sets of KPIs – one at the programmatic level, through aligning up-front work, and second, through analyzing different levers to measure the journeys themselves. Look at available metrics and combine qualitative and quantitative data to find correlations. For instance, correlate behavioural, attitudinal, and transactional data with different analytics from cross channels. Patterns will emerge that enable you to become more predictive and instinctive.

While some banks are executing pieces of journey-driven transformation, the key is an integrated end-to-end framework. For instance, most large banks in the US and Europe are now using journey mapping to guide their transformation programs. Some are defining journeys at a customer persona level, and even organizing around the journey. But, execution often remains a challenge. Super-regional and regional banks are dabbling with journey mapping and process mapping on the back end, but they haven’t yet brought those capabilities together.

Meanwhile, digital banks and fintechs, which often launch with a single offering, are taking a step back to understand the full customer experience as they look to expand and cross-sell into other products and build out their digital service capabilities.

Optimizing the digital banking experience is achievable through a holistic journey-driven transformation approach. View our webinar on bridging the human and digital divide in consumer banking to hear additional best practices and case studies. Let me know some of the successes you are achieving within your bank—and some of the challenges as well.

Contact me at and follow me on Twitter: @mpalomera

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