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With Great Expectations Come Great Opportunity: An Agile Approach to Mobile Retail Banking

Mike Jessick

Senior Director, Head of Digital Engagement, EPAM APAC
Blog
  • Financial Services

Technology moves so fast that if you blink, you just might miss being at the forefront of the next transformative trend. As retail banks play catch-up and digital becomes a more prominent focus, they’re not just answering to regulatory scrutiny and disruptive competitors, but also to their customers’ expectations. This mounting demand for banks to truly understand and even anticipate customer needs has naturally led to a new wave of doing business.

One of the ways that banks can remain relevant in such a highly competitive market is by offering exceptional mobile experiences. Research shows that 46% of consumers are only using digital channels for banking, a huge jump from the 27% reported just four years ago. Retail banks are even facing challenges attracting and retaining new customers, as the antiquated onboarding process takes too long and frustrates users. This goes to show that expectations are outpacing the experiences that most organizations offer their customers, and part of creating a truly differentiated digital customer experience involves having a mobile-first take on banking from onboarding to payments to investments and beyond.

Given that retail banks must restore the balance between customer expectations and experiences, they must employ an approach that enables a quick transition from ideation to execution. China, for example, has been making huge strides in this arena. In fact, mobile payment transactions in China have surged to $12.8 trillion in 2017 compared to $49.3 billion in the US.

One trend that has emerged to facilitate this is Agile development and rapid prototyping. Before launching an application, for example, retail banks have the opportunity to experiment early in the development lifecycle and make sure that they’re addressing all of their customers’ needs rather than waiting to see the outcome after launch. What’s imperative for ongoing success is baking this agility and maturity around digital into the culture and mindset of the organization, not simply at a project level.

While retail banks have been drawn to building internal user experience teams, scaling one can often hinder the development process drastically. For example, two separate, siloed teams creating content in different ways could end up disrupting and holding up delivery. This model prevents organizations from working flexibly, experimenting creatively and collaborating effectively.

Agile co-creation allows organizations to jumpstart adoption of new technologies without the stress of organically growing a team. According to a recent Forrester report, “Agile co-creation can accelerate your shift to modern application delivery if you use a product-focused, partnership-based commercial model.” Additionally, co-creation helps banks build customer-centric experiences by enabling closer interaction with key stakeholders.

Using Agile design and development principles to introduce new customer experiences can help you seize a huge opportunity to release and refine new services to your customers quickly to keep pace with trends and expectations. To take agile thinking a step further, it’s imperative to leverage this mindset in other dimensions:

  • Physical space prototyping and testing new concepts for in-branch customer engagement
  • Iterating between big data and “small data” by identifying behavioral anomalies within engagement data, creating hypotheses then testing them, validating and fine-tuning models through ethnography and qualitative user research, even leading to the creation of deep learning platforms
  • Making small changes to organizational process and culture, measuring key factors such as employee satisfaction or productivity, then scaling these organizational transformations across departments, business lines and geographies

Imagine having the ability to offer customers so much more than what traditional retail bank business models can. To do this, retail banks must reimagine their approach to customer engagement and be willing to explore new operating models and organizational structures to support it. By adopting new business models where there’s maturity around agility and a focus on experimentation, banks can open doors to new opportunities for strengthening customer relationships with digital solutions.

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