How to create a financial services experience people love

You've got one shot to win their hearts. Get it right with our upfront advice on delivering a digital customer experience to rival Amazon or Apple.

Us humans are now almost totally reliant on digital services. Not because we want to be or prefer them necessarily, but because we’ve had to be. Noticed you’re using more apps since the pandemic? That’s because we are - 30% more in fact.

Silicon Valley tech giant, Cisco, looked into our increased reliance on digital services and found that our expectations have increased too.

As if they weren’t already high enough.

The hard line is that people now have zero tolerance for any bad digital experience. Deliver a sub-optimal experience, and people being the fussy hard-to-pleasers they are, won’t use it again. 68% even go so far as to say that it’s disrespectful for a brand to offer a poor experience in this day and age.


Get it right, however, and you’ll be rewarded with loyalty and untold fortune. Going by recent CX stats, businesses that focus on improving customer experience can expect an 80% increase in revenue. That might have something to do with why financial services businesses have made improving customer experience one of their top priorities.

Yet pursuing the perfect digital customer experience is a tall order for any business that isn’t Amazon or Apple. Just 9% of financial leaders describe their digital CX as ‘excellent’. So how can ordinary, everyday financial services businesses like yours (no offence) ever match up to expectations?

To answer that, we called in the experts. Josh Guest, CEO of award-winning digital consultancy, Transpire, and Amir Ansari, head of product design at Iress. They joined the Upfront podcast to talk about how financial services businesses can get over regulation and legacy technology challenges to improve their customer experience. You can listen to that episode here.

We extracted some killer advice on creating more loveable financial services experiences from that conversation. Read on.


Step away from the wearables and put the smartwatch down. Yes, there’s some amazingly sexy tech out there, but don’t let all that shiny shit distract you from doing what’s right for your business and customers. To avoid wasting time, effort and money on the wrong things, listen to Josh’s advice: “If you just go ‘oh, here's some cool technology, let's just put your bank balance on your Apple Watch, so it's there all the time’. I don't think many, many customers would say that that's something they need or would want to necessarily have on their watch all the time. Start with what your customers need and want and deeply understand that. Then pick which technology makes sense for that use case.”


There's loads of research to prove that designing with the customer in mind will make you a more successful organisation, says Amir.

If you’re doing that properly, you’ll be asking A LOT of questions. “Put your customer at the centre. Ask yourself: Who are you designing for? Whose problem are you trying to solve? Under what context are you trying to solve it? What special needs does this individual have? What is their technical literacy when trying to use a particular product?

He explains: “The whole notion of human-centred design is understanding the customer and continually validating the assumptions, hypotheses, assets, and products. Then get it built. By the time the product is ready to be shipped, you're 99.9 per cent confident you’ve built it right, you made the right thing, and you know your customers will love it.

"Once you’ve made it relevant, you've made it interesting."


According to Josh, the start-ups get it right because they ‘think a bit differently.’ But anyone can have a start-up mentality, even larger, older firms, says Amir:

“Having that mentality of fail fast, fail often, is a good approach. I know a bunch of banks that are ginormous and have been around for a long time, but they sort of spin up a little mini enterprise start-up within, decoupled enough from the mothership that they can make their decisions faster. They can innovate and not be bogged down with some of the legacy technologies. Infusing a little bit of that start-up mentality can go a long way to forcing the innovation to happen.”

And, if you’re ever going to rival the experiences offered by Silicon Valley tech companies, you’re just going to have to think like one says Josh: “The Silicon Valley mindset has a completely different attitude towards risk and innovation, which puts fear into local financial services companies. Look at what they’re doing in the US where the regulation differs from the UK and Australia. They have that Silicon Valley mindset and will just give it a go,” which brings us to our next point.


Financial services is a mature industry, heavy on compliance and regulation, but that doesn’t mean you should stop asking questions and challenging things. ‘I would love the people who work in financial services to really push the boundaries’, says Josh.

Amir agrees and says his advice ‘would be to firstly set a really big vision for what you would like technology to do for the world. Try to take away the compliance, the barriers and the reasons why it can't be done or the way it's always been done and just go into pure creative, utopian mindset and begin there.’

‘Financial services has an incredible amount of knowledge and really smart subject matter experts who understand the intricacies of the space so well. Bring them in. Think about that utopian vision and work towards bringing it back, but not too far back, to the status quo.’


Don’t become too obsessed with what your fellow competitors are up to. Josh's advice is to look further away from home if you want to sneak ahead in the digital experience delivery stakes.

“Look at other industries and get a sense of what great looks like in different industries. In the future, we're going to find that traditional financial services organisations have competitors that come from different places and probably not the ones they'd expect. My advice would be to peer out at what's happening in the industries and the companies you least expect to be competitors and learn some things from them.’


The pressure to deliver a flawless digital experience is not going away, but neither is regulation.

So forget trying to lead an amazing digital experience with compliance - it’s never going to happen. Instead, financial services businesses must put the focus first on the customer and build a great experience for them, within the regulatory frameworks. There are lots of businesses out there pushing boundaries by looking at things differently and through the eyes of their customers. Companies might only have one shot to impress, but it’s one worth taking and a perfect opportunity to show just how innovative and customer-centric they are.

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