Nationwide Building Society (in partnership with cxpartners) has set up and launched a 30-person customer experience design team, Nationwide Studio.
The aim is to reinvent Nationwide’s design culture and develop the next generation of customer experiences.
We caught up with Webster Garratt, Head of Digital Experience & Service Design at Nationwide.
Are there any priorities for this new CX team?
For me there are three key priorities for the CX team; looking at the culture, in-house capabilities and, of course, the continued delivery of a great customer experience at every opportunity.
We have the opportunity to foster a creative culture right across Nationwide, …leading the charge in customer experience and customer centric design, not just within the financial services industry – but across the UK.
This means we need to build collaboration to ensure we get the right people, at the right time, working to deliver solutions in the most appropriate ways.
Linked to this is looking at how we can continue to strengthen the in-house creative and design capabilities across the business – creating a great customer experience does not sit within one team.
Nationwide has over 17,000 employees and each of these experts support our members in different ways.
By strengthening our core knowledge base across the business we have the opportunity to make real and positive changes across all areas of the organisation which will allow us to continue to exceed the expectations of our members.
Finally, we must also look at how we can support the delivery of new projects both big and small across the business.
We are able to work with the business to break down large programmes to deliver more quickly; we can draw on our agility to get the right things in front of customers at the right time.
Where have you started – new products or existing interactions?
We have started looking at both new products and existing interactions – customers currently complete 2.9bn transactions each year with Nationwide, so we have billions of opportunities to exceed expectations.
This number is dramatically increasing each year and I’m excited about how we can ensure that we can provide even greater levels of personalisation to members.
2.9bn transactions a year, with 15 different payment methods offered
What’s the roadmap for taking a siloed (and somewhat outsourced) initiative like this to the wider teams?
The advantage of being an in-house team is that you are embedded in the process right from the outset; we can work with the business to identify, understand and deliver against strategic opportunities.
We are also here to challenge the business to ensure that the creative culture and best practice is shared across the organisation to make a long term and lasting impact.
How does a financial institution learn to ‘fail quickly’? What metrics do you work to and under what constraints?
For our team and right across Nationwide we are looking to work in a different way with even greater agility and flexibility, and we have a real focus on bringing customers into the creative process to ensure that we deliver the right ideas and solutions in the most effective way.
For me it is not a matter of failing quickly, but an opportunity to ensure that there is a constant process of improvement.
Being an in-house team, we do not face the same barriers some consultancies experience. We work each and every day with decision makers from across the Society, which means we have access to the data, teams and resources exactly when we need.
Nationwide is a mutual, this means we are owned by and run for the benefit of our members.
This gives the team one key metric to deliver against – ensuring we provide market leading levels of customer service and satisfaction, meeting the evolving needs of our members.
Who shelters (and how) a design team from short-term corporate thinking?
As a mutual, Nationwide is able to take a longer term view on all decisions as we don’t face the short term pressures of delivering against shareholder expectations.
Our focus is on the needs of our members.
This view has enabled the Society to deliver long term success over the last 170 years, and our role in this is to become strategic problem solvers to ensure we continue to deliver against the rapidly changing expectations of our 15m customers.
Mutuals can take a longer-term view
To what extent will Nationwide Studio fix ‘broken windows’ and change language?
We will of course look to deliver against any ‘quick wins’, but our real focus is to investigate the long term strategic changes which will have a lasting impact.
As a team we will be learning from our customers, almost every day we have visitors to our customer testing facilities and this allows us to focus on what customers actually want and to deliver against their expectations.
What brands and businesses are you inspired by when it comes to interaction, online or off?
There are a lot of great businesses which are delivering fantastic interactions with customers at every touch point, and we recognise that we need to deliver against the customer’s expectations based on the best brands in the world across all industries, not just within financial services.
The brands which stand out to me are ones with clear propositions which have customers right at the heart of what they do, organisations which have connected ecosystems so customers get a consistent experience across each channel, and finally brands which have an authentic personality which stands the test of increasingly public interactions.
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