In the digital age, a business without a socially acceptable goal or mission that guides its decisions and actions is not sustainable. A purpose-driven strategy can help a company stand out in a crowded and competitive marketplace, where customers have a wide range of options to choose from. The pandemic lockdowns have accelerated the importance of digital transformation in banking, taking it from a strategic priority to a matter of survival. Everyone wants to quickly catch up and reorient to the digital format, but it's not easy and leads to mistakes. The advantage can’t be extracted by the ones who hastily conducted the digital transformation but only by those who are purpose-driven.
What is Digital Transformation in Banking
Digital transformation in banking refers to the fundamental reimagining and restructuring of traditional banking operations and processes through the integration and adoption of digital technologies, with the ultimate goal of enhancing customer experiences, driving operational efficiency, and enabling innovation in the financial services industry.
By embracing a purpose-driven strategy as the foundation for digital transformation in banking, banks go beyond simply adopting technology for the sake of efficiency gains or cost savings. Instead, they embrace a holistic approach that integrates technology with their core purpose and values, focusing on generating positive societal impact, sustainable growth, and responsible practices. With a purpose-driven strategy in their digital transformation journey, banks can create long-term value for all stakeholders while positively contributing to the broader society. It enables them to build a sustainable competitive advantage, attract and retain customers, foster innovation, and navigate the ever-evolving landscape of the financial services industry.
Purpose-driven strategy in digital transformation entails several key aspects:
Placing the customer at the center of digital transformation efforts by leveraging technology to deliver personalized, seamless, and convenient banking experiences. This includes empowering customers with self-service options, intuitive interfaces, and proactive financial guidance.
- Innovation and agility
Encouraging a culture of innovation and embracing agile methodologies to swiftly adapt to changing market dynamics, customer preferences, and emerging technologies. This involves fostering collaboration, embracing experimentation, and being open to partnerships with fintech startups and other ecosystem players.
- Sustainability and ethical practices
Integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) considerations into the digital transformation strategy. This encompasses adopting sustainable and ethical practices in product development, operations, and investments, with a focus on promoting financial inclusion, reducing carbon footprint, and promoting responsible data usage.
- Empowering employees
Equipping employees with the necessary digital skills and providing them with a supportive work environment to effectively navigate the digital transformation journey. This involves investing in training and upskilling programs, fostering a culture of continuous learning, and encouraging cross-functional collaboration.
- Security and trust
Prioritizing cybersecurity and data privacy to ensure customer trust and protect against emerging threats. This entails implementing robust security measures, adopting advanced authentication mechanisms, and adhering to stringent regulatory requirements.
What Are Benefits of Purpose-Driven Strategy in Banking
In the digital age, it is increasingly important for financial companies to become purpose-driven in order to stay competitive and relevant. This is because customers in the digital age have access to a wide range of financial products and services, and are often looking for companies that align with their values and beliefs.
A purpose-driven strategy can help financial companies differentiate themselves and stand out in a crowded marketplace. It can also help them attract and retain top talent, and motivate employees to work towards a common goal. Additionally, a strong sense of purpose can help financial companies build trust and credibility with their customers, partners, and stakeholders, which can be essential for building long-term relationships and driving business growth.
A purpose-driven strategy in banking is a business strategy that is focused on using the bank's resources and expertise to address specific social or environmental needs, rather than simply maximizing profits. This might involve socially responsible initiatives such as providing financial services to underserved communities, supporting environmentally-friendly business practices, or investing in projects that have a positive social impact. The overall goal of a purpose-driven strategy is to align the bank's business objectives with its values and mission, and to use its position as a financial institution to make a positive contribution to society.
To implement a purpose-driven strategy in banking, there are several key steps that banks can take:
1. Identify the bank's purpose
The first step in implementing a purpose-driven strategy is to clearly identify the bank's purpose and what it hopes to achieve through its social or environmental initiatives. This might involve conducting stakeholder consultations, reviewing the bank's mission and values, or conducting market research to identify areas where the bank can have the most impact.
2. Develop a plan
Once the bank's purpose has been identified, the next step is to develop a plan for how it will be achieved. This might involve setting specific goals and targets, identifying the resources and partnerships that will be needed, and establishing a timeline for implementation.
3. Communicate the plan
Once the plan has been developed, it's important to communicate it to all stakeholders, including customers, employees, shareholders, and regulators. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and understands the bank's goals and objectives in purpose-driven strategy implementation.
4. Implement the plan
The next step is to implement the plan, which will likely involve a combination of internal initiatives, partnerships with external organizations, and investments in projects that align with the bank's purpose.
5. Monitor and evaluate progress
As the plan is implemented, it's important to regularly monitor and evaluate progress to ensure that it is on track to achieve its goals. This might involve conducting regular reviews, collecting feedback from stakeholders, and adjusting the plan as needed.
Implement Purpose-Driven Strategy in the Digital DNA
It is important to implement a purpose-driven strategy into digital products in order to ensure that they align with the company's mission and values, and effectively address the needs and preferences of the target customers. The quality of purpose-driven strategy implementation in the digital DNA of a financial company is determined by three factors:
1. How well the customers context is taken into account;
2. How does your organization’s culture meet the strategy requirement;
3. How effective is your purpose-driven strategy in terms of digital age.
In this article I will consider all three factors and show you how to purposefully create an advantage in this difficult time to turn the crisis into growth.
However, there can be several challenges to implementing a purpose-driven strategy in business. One challenge is that it can be difficult to identify and articulate a clear purpose or mission that aligns with the company's goals and resonates with its target customers. This can require extensive research, consultation, and collaboration with different stakeholders. Another challenge is that a purpose-driven strategy can require significant changes to the way a company operates, which can be difficult to implement and require the support and buy-in of employees at all levels of the organization. Additionally, a purpose-driven approach can require a company to prioritize long-term sustainability and social impact over short-term financial gains, which can be difficult for some organizations to balance.
1. Exceed User Expectations Based on Customers Context
Digital financial service success is directly dependent on its ability to ease users’ daily lives and solve their problems. If the product does not live up to user expectations and specific needs, they will seek another alternative that eases their lives in these difficult conditions.
There's a common faulty belief among many entrepreneurs. They are certain that it's enough to understand the user's problem in order to create a product that will solve it. But, truth to be told, this seemingly clear problem could not be solved without taking into account the specific context of it. The people's lives have changed dramatically in the last couple of months. Since the World War, there hasn't been such global despair, frustration, uncertainty, fear and overall inconvenience.
Financial companies are trying to find ways to cope with post-pandemic and provide the best service to their customers. Unfortunately, these efforts can become meaningless if they haven't dived deep into exploring the user context, motives and actions - three elements that are crucial for truly satisfying the users and solving the problems they are facing.
To better understand these three conditions, we need to explore the problem-solution cycle from the human perspective. It's an approach to defining a problem and finding a solution through three conditions. It starts with the context that defines the motives that then lead to actions. At each point, you can use specific tools that reveal the process and give you an idea of exactly how the financial service should work in order to solve the specific problem of the customer.
Let's take a closer look at each of these elements.
First of all, a person who is facing a problem has a context. There is an external context, for example, the situation in which the problem arose, the routine in which a person operates and the lifestyle of the person in general.
Most probably, here we can talk about the different threats and restrictions that come with COVID-19 and lead to significant shifts in the customer lifestyles and daily routines. People are working from home in the best case scenarios. In the worst case - there are many who have lost their jobs or who's once successful businesses have stopped producing income, so they are facing a very harsh situation. This has a direct impact on their spendings and long-term future plans like paying the mortgage and lease. There are also government regulations that forbid gathering and significantly complicate the possibility for people to attend the banking branches to get a personal consultation, advice or get paperwork done.
Then there is also an internal context such as emotions, thoughts and hopes. There are countries that have been deeply affected by the COVID-19 taking hundreds of people's lives every day. Many are living in fear about themselves and their loved ones. There's also a lot of uncertainty about how all of this is going to evolve. Many disturbing questions arise - how many people will be affected? How soon will the virus spread stop? Will there be enough food? Is the government preparing even more strict regulations? Will I lose my job? What will happen with my family income and savings? All of these questions create a wide range of mostly negative emotions that have a direct impact on human behavior and actions.
To identify the external context, you have to collect information about the potential users of your digital financial service. Create a user profile that describes the lifestyle and habits of the user persona.
Then, you should create an Empathy map to uncover the deepest understanding of the internal context. This uncovers the limitations and/or opportunities associated with the product use context.
There is no way to research user expectations without investigating both the internal and external user contexts. Truth be told, if you do not get to know your user's habits, lifestyle, environment, emotions and cognitions, you cannot understand how your product can help solve their daily tasks and problems.
This applies to ordinary everyday circumstances but in a situation like this, the financial institutions ability to truly get to know their users, their deepest fears and struggles, is a matter of survival. The companies that will be able to do their homework and find out how their customers feel and what kind of help they need from their financial institutions, will be the ones who will maintain their customer base and even attract new clients.
The identified context determines the person's expectations in searching for a solution to the problem. How customers perceive the problem, where they will look for the solution, and how they will evaluate the effectiveness and quality of it. This defines the motive for using your banking product or financial service. In fact, this is the job for which users hire the product.
In the case of COVID-19, there could be plenty of motives that the customers would hire your financial product for. For example, get a credit card without leaving their home. Or maybe deposit some cash to account for online purchases. Just ask your users, what are their main issues at the moment.
Then you can specify this job using the Jobs To Be Done framework (JTBD), and set the key priorities through the Red Route Analysis. You need to look deep enough to find the true motives that affect the actions of the users and their mental models.
Next, the user takes action to achieve the needed solution. Customers use the product and interact with it. Your task is to ensure that the product provides the user with a clear, enjoyable and effective solution to their initial problem.
This is where the User Journey Map (UJM), user flow map, wireframes, UI design and testing come in as user experience design (UX) tools.
For example, we all try to stay at home to defend ourselves from COVID-19, especially if you are old or with a weak immune system. And sometimes the only way to get food is online purchase. Online shopping does not accept cash. But what if someone doesn't have enough money in the account? Or even don’t have a bank account. How can the person deposit money without leaving his or her home? If such a problem exists banks could offer a solution as Home Deposit service, which is prepared to visit and take money in a safe way.
When you have found out and defined why people will choose your digital financial service in these circumstances, you have to be aware of the proper approach that allows materializing all of this knowledge. This leads us to the second important step of implementing a purpose-driven strategy in digital banking - the Organization's Culture.
Read more about the problem-solution cycle from the human perspective
2. Become Purpose-Driven Disruptor Through Organization’s Culture
In conditions of total uncertainty and financial pressure caused by the pandemic and the global economic crisis, millions are not adapted for a new and fast digital world. Looks like the economy will no longer be the same, business processes and life will develop according to unusual and new scenarios, for which many are not ready. In such conditions only purpose-driven disruptors can ensure success in the long term.
To identify what kind of company culture your business executes and how it's possible to change it in order to become a Digital Disruptor, I'm introducing you to the Financial UX Design Matrix.
In the digital world, companies that are disruptors have the greatest potential. Those are the businesses that have entered this crisis calmly and with no worries of going bankrupt. The secret of their success is to base all of their operations on two basic components: Value and Design.
Both of these elements significantly affect the formation of customer experience within any business. Let's take a look at how the use or the lack of the use of Design and Value distinguishes four different company types. If you spot your financial institution as one of them, I'm offering you practical steps that you can take right away to get closer to becoming a Digital Disruptor mastering this crisis with confidence.
This is a company that cares more about its production process than its customers. Against the backdrop of the efforts invested in product creation and standardization of production, the interests of consumers do not seem so important.
Therefore, the management of this company is convinced that basic functionality is enough for users. Design,in this case, is a tool that is needed to create packaging, to bring the product to the market in an attractive way.
The manufacturing company is an outdated type of organization that excelled in the industrial age. Today, facing the post-pandemic crisis is extremely difficult for such a company.
Steps for transformation
- Switching the mindset from profit-oriented to user-oriented.
- Reviewing the role of design in the company in order to turn it into a customer-centered growth factor that improves product quality.
- Reinventing the company's product or service according to an advanced value proposition.
Unlike the Manufacturer, Seller is more focused on promotion than on production functionality. The Seller collects data about customers, finding out their preferences and needs. Then this information is further used by a marketing department that develops advanced communication strategies according to the customer expectations to address them on an emotional level.
Sellers are well aware that, in conditions of high competition, it is necessary to use something more attractive to users than boring and standardized functionality. Therefore, they use an advanced value proposition and user interaction design as powerful promotional triggers.
Despite all the client-centered slogans of such companies, their customers don't feel they are concerned about their interests, face formal attitude and poor service. This kind of company would have actively advertised their high level of customer experience, as well as digitization efforts but when faced with the reality of the post-pandemic crisis most probably they are not able to ensure the promised quality of their service.
For the Seller’s company, a user-oriented mindset is a blind spot, and that becomes a key weakness. The problem is that, instead of sincerely understanding how to help customers and how to improve their experience, Sellers perceive a customer-centered approach as a magical way to increase profits. So, in a crisis they cut service expenses to keep profit, thus ruining customers loyalty and relations.
Steps for transformation
- Changing of the basic guidelines of the business, the culture of the organization and goal setting, making customers a top priority.
- Making the customer-centered design approach the number one priority by integrating it at all levels, starting with business processes.
- Hiring or providing authority in the team to UX specialists who are experts in applying the design approach for the digital products to meet the customer needs.
- Having business executives and key leaders that share the same understanding and facilitate the importance of user-centricity and Design approach throughout every process and employee.
- Rethinking of the performance indicators and bringing to the forefront metrics related to customer satisfaction, as customer feedback, ratings, reviews and comments on social media.
Innovators in our frame are user-oriented entrepreneurs who make technological improvements. These are usually engineering companies looking for technical solutions that will better meet the needs of consumers to provide them with extra functionality.
They use Design thinking as a creative process aimed at finding new solutions. Innovators are sure that the functionality of a new level provides high value for consumers. Therefore, they are much more interested in researching and developing a new technology than caring about the customer experience.
The difficulties of Innovators are related to the fact that the development of new functionality is a key process for them, and they are not ready to delve into the psychology and consumer behavior. As a result, the products of the Innovator’s companies are often inconvenient and interesting only to a narrow circle of specialists and technology geeks.
Steps for Transformation
- Getting rid of the idea that functionality is enough.
- Adapting a deep understanding that the main value for people is the experience.
- Using the existing consumer orientation, it is necessary to take an additional step and orient the new technology, primarily to create a better experience for the customers.
Disruptors are companies that leverage the maximum potential of all four vectors and are extremely customer-oriented. Very often, they are perceived as companies changing markets or even creating new markets through disruptive innovations. These are companies that reinvent experience, offering something new that is much more convenient, efficient and enjoyable than the boring alternatives already available on the market.
Disruptors see profit as the result of maximum user satisfaction, and as a result of realizing the meaning of the company purpose that is focused on customers’ benefits. This provides them with long-term competitive advantages, customer loyalty and community support, all of which results in above-average profits.
Disruptors often use the functionality that Innovators have created but develop it at the higher levels of the Value Proposition. Being obsessed with execution, they bring every element of the user experience to perfection. Their task is not so much to create innovative technologies, but rather to rethink the habitual way of life. And, that is what makes them true Disruptors.
They realize the maximum potential of their business model, product and market offer through the integration of a purpose-driven approach into the company's DNA through Design. Thanks to this, Disruptors are able to build the most trusting relationships with their customers, and, in case of any business difficulties, they receive support and assistance from their fans.
Read more about the Financial UX Design Matrix
3. Use the Effective Purpose-Driven Strategy in Terms of Digital Age
The digital age totally changed our lives. This is the time when relying on people to adapt to the inconveniences of the product leads to a solid disaster. In the situation we are facing, financial companies have to adapt to their customers and their requirements, not the other way around. Only those who will be able to serve their digital customers better than ever will be the ones who will define the future of the industry.
Quick and effective adaptation strategy to the digital age is the crucial factor determining whether a financial company will lose it all or strengthen its position in the market. At the moment, a product that doesn't carry any value or benefit to facilitate people's daily lives will not be viewed as a necessity. Global digitization and the post-pandemic have completely changed the rules of the game in the financial industry. When the primary goal was to make a profit, it was enough with a product, business model and market distribution to ensure the company's success. Now it doesn't work that way anymore.
In the digital age, purpose becomes the main advantage and successful digital products are differentiated by the experience, benefit, and value they provide. That's why the in UXDA we define Success Formula by adding some very important elements to the traditional operational model. The scale in which a financial business integrates these key factors define the success potential its digital financial products.
So, when it comes to the digital age or especially to survival in the tense circumstances, I define the business success potential by the following formula (in the brackets): product quality raised to the power of experience times business model raised to the power of design plus market distribution raised to the power of value (brackets closed), multiplied by the experience mindset.
If you want to evaluate your company, estimate each component by a value from zero to 5, taking, as a basis, the relevant characteristics of leaders and outsiders in the industry. Let's explore each of these elements.
Success potential is the ability of a business to efficiently produce and deliver to the market a product or service that will be in such high demand that it will ultimately generate a positive financial flow in the long term. In the specific case of COVID-19, the Success potential could be the ability of the financial institution to overcome this crisis with gains. So, what are the elements that the Success potential depend on?
Product Quality Raised to the Power of Experience
First of all, it depends on the business offer to its end customers, i.e. product or service. In the digital age, it's not only about the quality characteristics of the product or service, but primarily about the whole experience it provides to the customers. This means that if you want to increase the success rate of the product, you must purposefully create a delightful customer experience. By increasing the degree of experience, you could significantly increase the chances of success and your company's survival rate in a situation of crisis.
In order to create a great experience, we need to take into account the user's needs, wants, expectations, pains and motives for using the financial product. We can explore those through the already mentioned Problem-Solution cycle, the Design Thinking approach, business, user, product frame (BUP) and different UX tools and methods.
Business Model Raised to the Next Level With the Power of Design
The second parameter of the formula is the business model. It determines not only the type of business, but also the basic principles of its functioning, development strategy and organization features.
In this case, we are not talking about the visual aspect of design, but about a generalized design approach to create and develop human-centered business at all operational aspects and in business culture. This approach allows business adaptation to modern market realities, which will significantly increase its effectiveness.
Of course, an effectively built and well-functioning business has a very high chance of success. Working with banks, I see huge organizations with precise functioning rules. But as the situation with COVID-19 clearly demonstrates, competitiveness in the digital age requires extra flexibility and ability to adapt quickly. Switching focus from bureaucratic legacy to flexible customer-centered company development is critical.
To increase the focus on customer satisfaction and accordingly ensure the ability to walk out of this situation as winners, financial companies should integrate Design thinking at all levels of their business with the aim of searching and executing more disruptive and effective ideas.
Market Distribution Powered by Value
The third component of the formula are the operations of the business with the outside world. In the market distribution term, I include both the chosen market niche with a positioning strategy and the activity of promoting and delivering information about a product or service to customers or potential partners of the company.
In the so-called marketing age, it was enough to boost the marketing budget to reach more people and convince them to buy the product. But, today, it no longer works like that. We have the network effect, and anyone is able to post a bad or a good review on the internet. This determines whether a person will trust you enough to buy your product or quickly learn from his or her peers that it's just a pretty advertisement.
For the market distribution, the success multiplier is the value provided to the customers. As I already mentioned, in the situation of crisis, everyone is concerned about themselves and the well being of their families. Here the value and care that a product can provide by easing people's daily lives is the key factor for choosing it. We can see that in the circumstances of a quarantine marketing motivated mass sales suffer. People don't buy that much stuff they don't need, just because it was nicely advertised. Today, more than ever, it's about value and the ability of the business to help people in the situations that each of them are facing.
That's why I am adding, but not multiplying, market distribution rate to the formula, since, even with zero distribution efforts, business success still can be achieved by word of mouth, for example.
It's possible to create value if, besides basic functionality, the product also provides pleasant usability and aesthetics that cause positive emotions─status or personalization according to the specific needs of different audiences and the possibility to create a feeling of being a part of a bigger mission that has an impact on the world.
Despite the closure of borders, the whole world has united in the fight against coronavirus, and participation in this mission may become a powerful community builder for every socially responsible business. For example, Facebook asks to mark your COVID-19 status to detect infection pathways. It’s a great idea to step out of the box and use your infrastructure to help people.
The Experience Mindset
The final and fourth element in the framework of this formula is the Experience Mindset, it's associated with our thinking. Thinking is a filter through which we perceive the world around us and the basis for which we set goals and make decisions.
Instead of an outdated mindset focused only on sales, you should implement a mindset that is focused on finding all possible ways to help your customers. This is the only way to survive in the age of digital disruption and in the difficult times that the unexpected COVID-19 outbreak has put us in.
To ensure the financial institution can handle this crisis, a sharp focus on customers’ expectations and behavior is critical. It is your customers’ needs, perceptions and experiences that play a key role in the digital economy. Don’t try to manipulate them. Use empathy to become really useful to your customers, and they will provide an unexpected power for the growth of your business even in a situation of a crisis.
Read more about the Digital Product Success Formula
Use Purpose-Driven Strategy to Build Relationships With Your Clients That Will Last
The technological advancements of today can give us superpowers. This doesn't only apply to maintaining some processes remotely through digital channels. This also includes the possibility of executing a thorough transformation that would help to become a purpose-driven company. If you look closely at the frame of the four business cultures, you will find that the four coordinates - Focus, Proposition, Priority and Application correspond to the four extra elements of the formula, respectively Mindset, Value, Design and Experience. So, using the formula to enhance your business strategy will help to transform your culture into a disruptor.
We can see that the situation with COVID-19 has fast forwarded the finance industry several years ahead. Those who started with a deep transformation of their mindset and inner culture, shifting it towards user-centricity and exploring the need of the users to get served remotely from the comfort of their home are tasting the sweet fruits of victory - probably much sooner than they had expected these investments to pay off. Meanwhile, those who failed to understand the importance of user-centricity and chose to make only a superficial visual transformation on the top-coat level, are facing a wide range of difficulties, as their digital products are modern but unusable.
My financial UX team is working fully remotely. At the moment we have taken on the maximum amount of financial institutions that can be served in the best possible quality and we already have several companies waiting in the queue to transform their services.
We are a fully digital company and right from the start we have been working with financial institutions from all over the world remotely. Yes, in some cases we travel to meet our clients or conduct workshops, but mostly all of our work processes, that have been mentioned throughout this article, are conducted 100% remotely. So as a fully digital company we maintain the highest quality of our services for all of our clients totally remotely, no matter the external circumstances. We are delivering through UX transformations one by one and preparing these companies to walk out of this crisis not devastated but as winners.
A purpose-driven financial company that's fully digitalized is independent of the external factors and gains an instant market advantage over competitors who lag behind. In the moments of crisis and hardships people usually show their real face. Situations like these determine whether a relationship will break or it will grow stronger than ever. Exactly the same applies to the financial institutions relationship with their customers. This can be viewed as the lowest point or as an opportunity to bond with the customers and prove to them that they have chosen the right financial institution that won't let them down.
If financial institutions integrate customer-centricity deep into their DNA, they will be able to stand strong, despite any circumstances. While if the main goal is still to make profit, not to help people, it's nearly impossible to survive with such an attitude in the situation of a crisis.
The key differentiators right now are value, best possible experience and relationships. If the customers understand that their financial institution has their back, cares about them and is actively looking for more and more ways to help them, I can guarantee that the company will receive trust, loyalty and respect from their customers. In such a scope and intensity that would be impossible outside of the context of the crisis.
So, it's up to you to decide if you are standing together with your customers or going against them in times when they need your courtesy more than ever.
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If you want to create next-gen financial products to receive an exceptional competitive advantage in the digital age, contact us! With the power of financial UX design, we can help you turn your business into a beloved financial brand with a strong emotional connection with your clients, resulting in success, demand, and long-term customer loyalty.