Simplicity is not sexy…until it’s done.

IntesaAanpaoloAs part of my recent trip to Milano speaking at ’The Invisible Bank’ conference, I had the privilege to have a conversation with senior members of Multichannel Integration initiative in INTESA SANPAOLO – the 2nd largest bank in Italy.

The topic was how to simplify customer experience through multi-channels.
Through sharing of our simplicity initiatives, we realised there were common challenges in designing for simplicity in Singapore and Italy: the strict regulatory environment and the formal corporate culture – that makes CEO’s commitment to simplicity critical. While Head of Customer Experience in INTESA shared his battle against legal requirements to reduce the number of digital signatures into one for a digital account opening process, we all agreed and empathized that ‘simplicity is not a sexy work.’

From the engaging conversation with Intesa team, my personal takeaway were three things:

1. Drive through value, not through a platform.

The key to simplicity is not focusing on digital channels. Digital is a means to deliver simplicity, never a destination. Wrongly executed digital channels can create more complexity to customer experience rather than simplifying it. What should drive banks’ endeavour to redefine the customer experience is the value – simplicity.
Is ‘simplicity’ your bank’s top of the agenda? Do people in your bank understand the meaning of ‘simplicity’ and aspire to achieve it? Apple, as well as two Italian brands mentioned during the discussion (DKNY and Luxottica) are good examples of successful businesses that  ‘value’ is clearly defined and pursued. A big part of OCBC’s success in designing for simplicity is the strong commitment from the top to the value of ’simplicity’. The commitment resulted in the changes in daily vocabulary that our management uses, and it naturally flows down to employees. That’s because when people remember the value, it will empower people to execute.

2. Know your customers’ journey – the big picture

One of the common tools between OCBC and INTESA use in designing multichannel experience was ‘customer journey mapping’. Journey map helps banks to visualise the interaction between channels from a customers’ point of view, therefore, helps to define the role of channels and design to integrate those channels. We often hear that banks want to execute multi-channels (more recent buzz word: omni-channels) strategy. While these terms are very trendy in banking at the present time, in the spirit of simplicity I suggest ‘big picture’ thinking instead. Obtaining a big picture of your customers is the first step to simplicity, and it is a way to break the internal silo thinking.

3. Simplicity is not sexy until it’s done.

From OCBC’s success stories in driving simplicity, the biggest lessons learned is that designing for simplicity requires a humble mindset and persistence of bankers willing to improve every step of the way of the customer journey. A simplified advisory tool can enhance the meaningfulness of conversation between the front-liners and customers and provide the right platform to recommend a right product. Simplified product communications increase customers’ confidence, therefore, increase sales. Simplicity is not sexy during the execution but once it’s done it is rewarding.

Thank you for INTESA team for having had this valuable conversation. 

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