Continuum

What can others learn from how you identified the need for and created your innovative interaction design?: 

BBVA, one of the globe’s largest banks, asked us to define the banking experience of the future to drive their technology roadmap, branch evolution, and adaptation of service models to future states. The Customer-Centric Bank is built upon the idea that banks, like all retailers, should put individual customers’ needs at the core of the experience. Combining virtual experiences with in-person relationships, the new service model increases business efficiencies while providing the human guidance customers need to make financial decisions. Continuum worked for over three years on this initiative. The process began by conducting contextual consumer and employee research across three continents to understand the needs of lead and core customers, the unbanked (future customers), and the employees who serve them. By carefully analyzing these ethnographic interviews drawn from stakeholders, staff, and clients in different countries and triangulating this understanding with BBVA’s existing market research, we created a set of core design principles to guide decision-making within the project and to help us to communicate the project beyond the core client team.

Please describe how the concept for your interaction design came about, what research, information, inspiration, etc. informed it.: 

As part of our analysis and envisioning phases, Continuum created a set of core design principles that guided all decision-making within the project and helped us to communicate the project beyond the core client team. These design principles continue to support and inform all our work with BBVA. Based on our customer-centric vision, Continuum then created an immersive banking experience and prototype inside BBVA’s Center of Innovation in Madrid. The prototype is designed to simulate the experience of banking in the year 2020 and help communicate the value of the new distribution model to internal stakeholders, global thought leaders, and the media. The bank of the future was prototyped in full scale to enable our team and our client to assess and refine the experience. This included creating experiential models of the physical touch-points and environments, as well as demonstrations of on-screen interactions. Role-playing enabled us to pressure test employee interactions and understand how the new digital tools worked.

How does your interaction design address unique user interaction challenges created by the confluence of specific user needs, product requirements, platform capabilities/constraints, etc.?: 

The bank of the future that we envisioned is an ecosystem of digital, physical, and human touch-points. It provides the customer the flexibility to operate across platforms and allows the bank the ability to scale across regions and to apply human and technology resources to the touch-points that are most impactful. Our team defined how elements such as navigation, layout and information structure and hierarchy will adjust to a range of touch-points, and codified the brand, visual and interaction elements that will remain consistent across platforms.

Why was a departure from existing and familiar interactions necessary in this case?: 

Comprehensive and Holistic: Few universal banks have attempted to make such sweeping changes to the traditional banking model. Other banks have tried to attack a piece of the experience -- the purely digital bank or the elite private banking experience -- but no one has done it at a global scale, across all customer segments, and in such a holistic way.

Customer-centric and customer-driven: By giving control of the banking experience to the customer, Continuum and BBVA have been able to rethink the banking relationship from the ground up. For example, we’ve had the opportunity not only to re-conceptualize digital interactions, like the website BBVA.es, but it also allowed us to upend the traditional retail model and create new design opportunities in the branch as well. Additionally, by deciding that banks should truly be designed to serve the needs of customers and by taking the bankers’ desks out of the front-of-house, we were able to replace them with customer-owned “Pods”, which allow customers to drive the research and advisory experience with the ability to invite help from bank representatives when necessary.

Transparency: We have also dramatically increased the degree of transparency between the bank and it’s customers. Building the new Collaborative Front Ends– a bank/customer shared user interface within the “Pods” – was one way of achieving this in the branch, but we’ve also increased transparency throughout the model by emphasizing a relationship model that is predicated on always finding the right solutions for real customers’ needs.

How has your interaction design affected user behaviors and the overall successfulness of the product or solution?: 

In the past, the bank built its customers’ trust by ensuring them stability and solidity—by promising to stay forever the same as it always had been. In a world where the customer has taken control, the bank of the future must become the guide that helps each customer reach his individual goals. The Bank of the Future is built around the idea that banks, like all retailers, should put individual customers’ needs at their center. Combining virtual experiences with hands-on relationships, social networks and global standards with local adaptations, the new service model increases efficiency while providing the human guidance people need to make financial decisions. The service model is convenient, reduces costs and allows each customer to interact with the bank according to their individual needs, while increasing transparency between customer and bank. The model works in both developed and developing markets. Early results of the pilots include an increase in transactions migrated away from tellers to self-service ATMs which significantly lowers transaction cost, creates deeper conversations between customers and advisors in the new “pods,” increases the number of mortgages initiated on the new BBVA.es website. Although we thought that new staff would be needed for such a radical transformation, the original Capitán Haya staff asked to be re-trained to work in the transformed branch and have there has been overwhelming support of the new way of working.

How might your interaction design serve as the inspiration or starting point for future innovations in interaction design?: 

The bank branch has traditionally been the center of a customer’s banking experience. But, with new technologies (greater access), automation (simple processes), and the ability to aggregate information on the internet (easy price comparison), the fundamental structure of retail banking and its physical footprint was ready for a long overdue rethink. These same forces are increasingly bearing down on all industries and will likely impose a similar scale of changes in many industries. Moving forward, customers will decide who wins and who loses and the race will more than likely be won by the organizations that can successfully bring a customer-centric and customer-driven business model to market first. The biggest challenges that we faced in this project were not just in creating our vision for the future, but also in aligning internal stakeholders and coordinating the resources to develop each piece of the experience, and the very significant technology and training investments that needed to be made for BBVA for achieve its vision of being a truly Customer Centric Bank. Our in-market pilot branch and the new BBVA flagship in Madrid, Spain are fully functioning embodiments of this vision, made real.

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