Developing new propositions

The banking world is changing. Technology allows us to make financial decisions at our own convenience. If customers can find a better service or product, then they can switch and do it fairly quickly. That’s great for the consumer and more competition will lead to better outcomes for everyone.

The challenge for the banking industry is what can we do to differentiate ourselves from other providers? At Bank of Ireland, my job gives me unique oversight into how we can develop these propositions, and distribute them through our partners.

To create your own noise, it takes focus, a lot of focus and stamina to enable you to cut through and find your own space.

However, at BOI we have a head start by partnering with two of the UK’s most trusted brands, AA and Post Office. Their strong brand recognition along with a joint commitment to discover the one thing that will make a difference for a range of customer groups facilitates real innovation that meets consumers evolving needs.

Consumers are savvy, they know what they want, what problem they want fixing, they just can’t always find the answers with current market offers, so they opt for a DIY solution. They stick products together themselves, try and navigate obscure rules or create pseudo products meant for another purpose. For example, people used spreadsheets and third party apps to track spending before tracking became an integral part of an account. Overdrafts are often used as pseudo drawdown facilities.

That’s not good enough for BOI and it’s my responsibility to ensure we discover those simple truths of what will resolve and satisfy those consumer needs? So how do we do it? Test. The answer is to test and test again until your customers can demonstrate what will work.

This is not big budget activity. This is about staying small and fleet of foot. Being agile. Know when to continue with a hypothesis and know when to stop and test a new direction. You don’t have to be a new start up to achieve this. It won’t challenge your legacy systems. You just need to be brave. Fail but fail fast and not at the expense of customers. Do it in a test environment until you and your customers know you have it right.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Other sectors such as telecom and software development have perfected this methodology.

Testing doesn’t mean the traditional quantitative and qualitative research we can be so entrenched in. That has its role but not when you need to know what a customer will ‘actually’ do.

The key is to create experiments. Create your own lab. Become scientists. Develop environments that simulate the experience and then observe how consumers react. At BOI through my teams, we are ditching traditional channels and mindsets and going where consumers go. If that’s social media channels, exhibitions, conferences or homes then we go there. We walk by the side of our customer and let them try our new idea. Watch and listen and………..rework. You will need to. It is highly unlikely you will get it right first time and roll onto a big successful launch. At BOI we employ time and patience until its right.

The end result is a confident launch and satisfied customers who can do what they need to.
We want to be able to help our customers.

Mike Butler, Head of UK Strategy By Mike Butler, Head of Proposition and Delivery