Embrace change, take risks, and disrupt yourself

Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.

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Creating Lovable Experiences Through Innovation Simplicity

Historically, the banking industry viewed innovation as a way to add more to a product or service. The focus was often on technology, competitive offerings and ecosystems and not often enough about the customer.

The world has changed … in an instant. More than ever, consumers want ways to transact and engage in a way that is easy, intuitive and emotional. Simplicity has taken center stage in the innovation process.

We are joined on the Banking Transformed podcast by Jin Kang Moller, previous vice president of customer experience at OCBC Bank in Singapore, and the author of the book, “The Simplicity Playbook for Innovators’. Jin and I discuss why simplicity is important and how to make it happen at any organization.

Jim Marous:
Hello, and welcome to banking transformed. And I'm your host, Jim Marous, owner and the CEO of digital bank report. And co-publisher the financial brand. Historically the banking industry viewed innovation as a way to add more to a product or service. The focus was often on technology, competitive offerings and ecosystems, and not enough about the consumer. The world has changed in an instant. More than ever, consumers want to transact and engage in a way that is easy, intuitive, and emotional. Simplicity has taken center stage in the innovation process and creating memorable experiences is more important than ever. We are joined on the banking transformed podcast by Jin Kang Moller, previous vice president of customer experience at OCBC bank in Singapore and the author of the book, "The Simplicity Playbook for Innovators". Jin and I discuss why simplicity and creating level books spirits is important and how to make it happen in any organization. As I mentioned, a lot of large and small competitors have come into the banking space with a focus on improving the customer experience usually by making banking easier. Maybe it's going back to the beginning, but why is simplicity so important?

Jin Kang Moller:
Yeah, I think, well the quickest answer would be, we humans are naturally attracted to simplicity, especially in the financial world. Things have become way too complex and there are a lot of information, a lot of steps to go through just to make a financial decision. So by making simpler, we naturally attract customers. And I think another reason why simplicity is so important in today's time is because when we make things simpler, we increase our ability to change. So in other words, let's say you offer a new product, which requires, I don't know, different way of adopting. Let's say if when a company like Uber first came about, it certainly required change for people, when they think about a taxi. Now they have to think about, Hey, actually I could grab a car of somebody else, potentially a stranger in order to get from A to B. So innovation happens when people's behavior actually changes. So by making things simpler, we are naturally increased people's ability to make change because the motivation, we may not be able to influence. So there's a very interesting connection between simplicity and ability to change. Therefore, the likelihood that we can innovate something will be higher.

Jim Marous:
So firstly, every financial institution talks about customer centricity being the core of their mission statement. Yet based on credit union seem to ignore what the consumer wants from an experience basis. Jin, why is that the case?

Jin Kang Moller:
That's a tough question. I don't think companies ignore customers wants or needs. I think it's rather the way we understand customers needs, rather superficial. So typically method like surveys are way that use just to reach out as many customers as possible. Also, we have now, we can make use of data analytics as well. But with those methods we can, those can be a bit of what is happening or we can gather how customers, what are their opinions. But those data may not help us really understand why they are behaving certain way or how they feel about our product and services. So I'm a big fan of promoting so-called design research methods, which requires a direct intervention with customers, such as one-on-one interviews or ethnography, or we sometimes do the diaries or research where we collect the rich evidence of how customers daily life is.

Jin Kang Moller:
Those methods, I think a lot of organizations have tried about using those methods. Maybe because of the tested nature of those methods or how are we going to make sense out of this? Or, oh, it's going to take a very long time or, oh, what kind of precise are we dealing with here, right? But I think in order to really put in customer in the center and using their stories as a source of inspiration, the research method has to be changed. So I think this is something that a lot of organization missed upon, and by doing it right to the previous question, we are able to identify the opportunities that other competitors can actually. So that's one. And another reason might be really the lack of the sense of needs for change. So we know we have to be customer centric, but maybe people don't necessarily feel we need to change.

Jin Kang Moller:
I like the idea of really giving opportunities for any parts of the organization to really see and feel the customers. It could be elevated as a cultural program. Everybody in the organization have opportunity to hear directly feedback from customers and observe a certain customer. It doesn't have to take a long time. But there's a really nice effect. I call it empathy effect. When people have given the, they are given opportunity to emphasize something changes in them. They begin to see their problem statement in a very different way. So empathy is a very soft word, but I think this is an asset that we need to cultivate in an organization to really, I mean, business reason really is to wear the lens to see the problem differently, we call it the ability to reframe.

Jim Marous:
In your book, "The Simplicity Playbook for Innovators", you focus on how organizations can simplify and eliminate friction for the consumer obviously. How can organizations simplify the entire customer journey? Where do they start?

Jin Kang Moller:
Where to start? Well, that's a tough question. I always say that it is good to identify some quick wins where we can see immediate results. So in my simplicity journey, I ended up doing a lot of forms of simplification. Not because forms are the most important thing, but we were really able to see the immediate risk change. We were able to measure the impact of the change. But by doing so I think as an organization, you learn something from there. You learn how this process worked? By making certain things simpler, you gain some confidence. So I always advise people to start something that is small, relatively small. It has the least dependencies, but at the same time to your question, how do we simplify the entire customer journey, unlike to post this definition, because when we say simplicity, everybody has some different notion.

Jin Kang Moller:
Isn't it? Maybe some people think about a simple object, maybe some people think about, I don't know, a cup of coffee or nature, right? So in the context of innovation, I define simplicity as an experience that makes things easier for customers and leave a positive emotion. So, I think in order to simplify the entire customer journey, we need to think about the experience, what kind of emotion we want to live with your customers. So to me, that is essential. So by identifying that emotion, we are able to make decisions, make the design decisions and, okay, when customers are on board, what are the things have to be in place? What kind of tone of voice we need to speak? Or what kind of channels do we need? Do we need actual people or is digital enough or vice versa?

Jin Kang Moller:
So I really liked the idea of, really thinking in experience and then defining the emotions that we want to live with the customer as an organization. So it doesn't have to be always one emotion. Because there are many different kinds of project, isn't it? So maybe for one digital banking project, it can be, kind of emotions that we want to live with is the confidence or maybe, I mean, for instance, for the millennials friend Frank, we went beyond just confident. We wanted people to feel passionate. We wanted people to feel fun. So having those emotional needs understood, defined, you can really govern the team to design the similar seamless customer experience.

Jim Marous:
So it's interesting. Historically banking use innovation and change in terms of big changes. We do an upgrade or we do an update and we do it quarterly or annually or whatever. How important are incremental improvements to simplicity and the customer experience?

Jin Kang Moller:
Well, as I mentioned, I think the incremental improvement is so important, but first of all, because it gives us confidence. But when I look at my simplicity journey, really starting with something small gave us confidence so that we can move on more difficult and more complex one. So from a learning organization point of view, I think that is important that we really try something that is not so complex, that doesn't have so many dependencies and start from there and see the impact and learn from it. But also I'm a big fan of really obsessing with the details. Because when we think about again, customer experience, nothing is too detail. Let's say I wanted to open a new account. And then the very first form I received might have had a lot of forms, a lot of fields. The tone of voice might have been very harsh or very robotic.

Jin Kang Moller:
It does give us impression, what kind of company we are dealing with. So everything we produce, whether it's a app, whether it's a physical space, forms, communication, they are our silent ambassadors. Either they will promote our brand or they would discourage us from wanting to fill the relationship with us. So I do think everything matters as a part of designing customer experience and nothing is too detail. So, hence always just looking for big changes and if it's not materialized into really small changes that that aggregate into a big experience, I don't think it is the right strategy.

Jim Marous:
So too often, organizations try to simplify the final mile of the customer journey. In other words, the app integration or something along that way. Can organizations simplify the jury without completely throwing out what has been there for the past in the back office to, should they build from scratch as opposed to just trying to work with what they had in the past. Especially the financial institution that were so caught up in what we thought was required in the past, should organizations consider at least throwing it out so they can build the back office, so it really simplifies the final mile?

Jin Kang Moller:
That's a very good question. I do think that there are opportunities to simplify without having to touch the backend systems or backend processes. So that's my take. And another thing is in order to simplify something, first step really is to understand customers. So, when we try to understand what customers need, how do they behave and why do they behave that way? And then we essentially worked backwards from there. And that's how we create simplicity, right? So that thinking process will be same, whether you are designing something that is simple, doesn't have any back office implication or that really requires the fundamental change in the organization. So, I do think starting right now with possible opportunity to execute something would be a better strategy because I keep going back to the form example because the learning curve was so steep. I mean, when we design one of the forms we invested, I don't know, three four months.

Jin Kang Moller:
And it was really about making the form easier. But then we realized the form was the reflection of the organization or process and culture. So it took longer than we wanted to spend. But by doing so, we were able to understand people's needs better. What are customers need, what are our relationship managers needs and what kind of information do back office needs? And that thought process was really helpful. I mean, not only we were able to launch the physical and the very simple format on our website, but also it really helped us to start to strategize what we need when we were working with a technology vendor to customize that the backend system to meet our customer experience vision. So I don't think, oh, having to change the backend system should be unexcused. Because we can always start from understanding the current work process and customer's behavior. And then, these will really help organizations to plan their platforms and take solutions better.

Jim Marous:
So Jin, what are the most common points of friction and how can organization identify friction points within the buying process and within their organization?

Jin Kang Moller:
There are a lot of friction point, but I think one of the most important thing we need to consider as an organization is that we shouldn't look at specific friction points. I know the answer sounds ironic to the question. For instance, when we were digitizing the buying platform in order for people to buy investment product. I mean, initially we were very obsessed with how can you make this thing simple? What are the friction point? But then when we looked at our customer's journey, their journey never start in buying. And this was a big shift in our, one of the projects that, really looking in certain specific areas of journey. Maybe it's not the best strategy. I mean, we were spending a lot of time and effort to remove the friction. Better strategy really is to really look at what do customers really want to do?

Jin Kang Moller:
How can we improve the overall experience? So what we ended up doing was instead of building, initially we started with, "let's make the simplest possible buying platform". And then after we spent some time with customers, we completely reframed to, "Hey, what if we design every step of the way?" And every step of the way they feel confident. They feel confident when they see some ideas where to invest, they feel confidence when they consider different option and they feel confident when they decide to buy. And also they feel confident when they manage their assets. So the shift from platform to less design a confidence, it really changed the entire project scope from really looking at other IT project to. It involved content, it involved the role of channels and the service model, et cetera. So, it extended to very massive project. But the main lessons learned was that way of thinking what's the essential, because that was really making money, a lot of money, and that helped us differentiate ourselves in the market. We weren't just one of the buying platforms, for instance.

Jin Kang Moller:
So I think instead of really focusing on where are the frictions, I think now we really have to move away from the notion, really look for what kind of experience we want to create and what are the defining moments that we can create along the way.

Jim Marous:
Yeah. That's such a key element of what you said in the book, is that? And in fact, your book says creating level books, experiences in a complicated world. So it's not really just about eliminating steps or making it sort of the quickest and fastest. It's really about making it so the consumer wants to stay in gates. So again, it's making it so that they're good experiences they're reciprocal experiences or does it shows empathy, maybe it uses personalization. So the consumer says, I want to stay engaged with this. And we've done some research recently that says, loyalty is really being driven by how long a consumer wants to be engaged with an application. And that doesn't mean, PayPal doesn't want you to get in and out in a second. But they want to create a memorable experience. And sometimes it is the simplicity of the apple credit card where it just takes seconds to finish it off. But in other cases, to your point, it's about building memorable experiences that simplify the overall journey without taking the word simple as meeting necessarily the fewest steps or making it simply easy.

Jim Marous:
So that's a great component of it. From your perspective, is there a connection then between data analytics, let's say AI, machine learning personalization and the elimination of steps, but more importantly, the building a better customer experiences then?

Jin Kang Moller:
Yeah, absolutely. I really love your example. People think simplicity is about efficiency, right? That's why I keep emphasizing on the experience. It's really about creating that memorable experience. I use the word lovable. A lot of people actually was against the word because banking cannot be lovable, right? But I used the word just to stretch our thinking. That's how important that creating that emotional effect. So we need, simplicity is perceived. It has to be felt, right? So for some people, if certain process takes two seconds, maybe they are the happiest in the world. Maybe for some people then need longer time, then need assurance, they need someone or some system really explain line by line, as opposed to everything goes quick, quick, quick, quick, and the done.

Jin Kang Moller:
So I think we have more opportunity than ever to create a simple experience, which can be perceived differently individually, right? Using data, AI, machine learning, we are able to really learn what kind of experience do these people need. So, yes, I really think that there's a huge overlap creating that the perceived simplicity based on the individual's behavior preferences and their needs using those AI and data analytics and machine learning.

Jim Marous:
It sounds like the commitment to simplification, the commitment to creating lovable experiences really needs to be cultural across a whole organization, as opposed to simply being in the area of innovation, product development, or marketing, doesn't it? It really has to be cultural within the whole organization.

Jin Kang Moller:
Yeah. I mean, that'll be ideal. But I also understand, because I work with a lot of senior leaders, media management leaders. They genuinely want to make a difference. They genuinely want to change things. Especially I think there's a huge movement going on within HR department to really drive this transformation in managing the future workforce to empower them to be agile and creative. So there's a huge business transformation efforts going on, but we often experience this resistance, right? Because the changes are imposed on them and people are naturally reluctant to change, right? So there's a natural conflict and resistance to all those good intent. So, I think cultural is always tricky word, isn't it? Culture has to be, it can be designed, but at the same time it cannot be forced. So I mean the view of, even if your senior management may not be fully on board, even if you don't have that kind of culture yet, we'll be starting somewhere and then create that suction.

Jin Kang Moller:
And there are enough people in the organization who really believes in this. And creating that momentum and creating, nurturing that network. I think this is a probably more realistic strategy as opposed to, "Oh, we have to make it as a culture". And a lot of people have this allergic reaction to cultural change. So I think we have to be also very empathetic with employees. They want to do a good job, but they are so overwhelmed with having to change. So to me, really the best way to permeate the human centricity and the love for simplicity is really to change individual by individual. So start where you are, whether you are in marketing or strategy or IT, and yeah, start from there and expand and have your own party. And then story tell, and by telling a lot of stories, it can really change people and inspire the organization.

Jin Kang Moller:
And of course, I think because of that, because see we've done a lot of those. I mean, in the beginning we had to do this grassroot approach. Although our senior management was very committed to this and it did take some time until top management recognize the importance of simplicity as human centered design. And we got finally mandate to really scale this way of thinking top down. But even though we don't have that, I think there are ways to really enable people, inspire people at the individual and department level and this small change can mount into something really big.

Jim Marous:
I get back to the incremental growth factor and that's really good. So beyond Amazon, which certainly in the US, it's used as an example or so much. What are some of the organizations that you have seen that are really best at simplifying the journey and creating lovable experiences as part of the innovation process?

Jin Kang Moller:
I must say, I mean, as a consumer, I love and adore tech companies like Peloton and Strava, really bringing the technology and great experience together. And it is really omni channel, isn't it? It's really about using data. It gives you a beautifully designed page to get to know yourself. At the same time, you can connect with people. And it use technology. And most importantly, it does create the defining moments of achievement. I do remember you are obviously a workout gig as I understand. So I'm sorry.

Jim Marous:
Working out it, trying-

Jin Kang Moller:
Yeah, no, I mean, you are a great example of transformation. I mean, so to me that the whole user experience, the connecting with people, everything powered by technology, it is so human. It celebrates the human moment. I think this is a great example of creating lovable experience using digital technology.

Jim Marous:
That's interesting, Jin. I will tell you that we have not had a guest. When we've talked about innovation, transformation, integration, all this that had mentioned Peloton and Strava. However, as soon as you mentioned it, I don't have a Peloton, but I know how the engagement is. A light bulb, one of my head and said, these are great example because I live for my Strava app. I mean, every day I'm on Strava and I will be at a workout facility to provide me an update as to how well I did, but I put into Strava. So I get those kudos where, so I get the example of other people I know. There are some engagements I have internationally where I have more communication through Strava than I do through Twitter and LinkedIn, like with Nigel Walsh in the UK. And it's just interesting how different people, you find that these experiences keep you coming back and at the end, I'm going to go back to your book again.

Jim Marous:
It creates those lovable experiences that you want to engage as opposed to be enforced to engage. So finally, how do people get a hold of your book? And I assume it's on, and in fact, I know it's on Amazon. And more importantly, how do they reach out to you directly if they want to talk to you about the whole innovation and the simplification of the journey?

Jin Kang Moller:
Yeah. So please find me on LinkedIn Jin Kang Moller. Also, you can get in touch with me at designforcompany.com where I share my thoughts and executive training and consulting services in the areas of customer centric, innovation, simplicity, and human centered design.

Jim Marous:
Jin, finally, it's been a pleasure and it's long overdue. We communicated as we talked about before the podcast. We communicate with each other through social media and keep up to date with each other through social media, but having the ability to meet with you and talk to you is, as I said, long overdue in it, and we won't wait to fall again. So thank you so much for being on the show.

Jin Kang Moller:
Thank you so much for having me, enjoyed having conversations with you.

Jim Marous:
Thanks for listening to banking transformed. Rate as a top five banking podcast. I generally appreciate the support you've provided since we started this endeavor. If you enjoy what we're doing, please be sure to follow banking transformed on your favorite podcast app. In addition, please take some time to show some love in the former review. These reviews are how people determine whether to listen and how we get such great guests. Finally, be sure to catch my recent articles on the financial brand and check out the research we are doing for the digital bank report. This has been an evergreen podcast production. A special thank you to our producer, Lia longbreak, audio engineer, Sean Roll Hoffman and video engineer, Wilfred. I'm your host Jim Marous. Until next time remember, that making something complicated is easy, but making something just truly memorable and lovable tastes creativity.

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