BOI was faced with a significant problem: their customers no longer thought, acted or worked in the ways that their organisation was accustomed to. In fact, as a 234-year-old company, they were facing the risk of moving even further away from customer needs.Traditional methods of market research had failed to help BOI understand and design for their customers’ rapidly changing requirements. For example, the API sharing economy, open banking and blockchain have drastically accelerated the rate and pace of change.To keep ahead, the challenge was to fundamentally alter the way BOI designs and runs its business. Our task was to help BOI’s senior management to understand customer-centricity and service design, what they mean for the business, and to take it forward as an approach to support the bank’s overall business goals.

The solution

With Bank of Ireland (BOI) we created a bespoke training programme “The Ambassador programme” to address their customer experience challenges, and in doing so helped the organisation shift their paradigm from a purely business focus to real customer-centricity.

The Process

In Spring 2016, we launched a service design programme titled “Bank of Ireland Experience Design.” Over an 8-month period, 36 design thinkers from the management team were divided into eight cross-functional teams participating in an extensive programme of workshops, mentoring sessions and team assignments which were all designed to address real-life customer experience challenges faced by the bank.

These challenges ranged from complex processes like bereavement and customer identification and verification, plus day-to-day tasks like customer payments, through to the simple act of appointment setting.

The Experience Design Programme provided participants with the relevant tools and expertise to support the organisation’s shift towards customer-centricity. Additionally, the programme devised and ran workshops with senior management, which sought to uncover significant obstacles.

Finally, a series of steering committee workshops, in conjunction with the training sessions and hands-on mentoring support, was used to drive the cultural change. This helped ensure continuous, systematic implementation of customer-centricity and the service design approach across Bank of Ireland.

For example, one of the themes explored was bereavement, for which we helped create a redesigned service offering. Every year BOI loses almost 17,000 customers this way. The end-to-end journey for customers, their relatives and executors, was a broken and disjointed experience, requiring multiple touchpoints depending on the number of products held by the deceased. Little recognition was given to the fact that the deceased and their family had been loyal customers for many years.

After getting to know customers with recent experience of bereavement, the team created a solution to enable BOI make a better emotional connection with these vulnerable customers. The redesigned outcome is a seamless ‘one-and-done’ process which eliminates frictional elements (e.g. redundant identification and verification requests), replacing them with a personalised, wholly empathetic service that recognises loyalty.

The results

36 senior managers turned into ambassadors

We helped BOI top management to create customer-centred business goals and establish organisational structures to support them. The eight-month period allowed the organisation to develop a deeper understanding of the current situation; and, to make real impact in long term development, BOI increased the service design budgets and investments, removing silos. 36 senior managers had their skills and knowledge boosted by the Hellon team who worked with them during the training programme. They gained hands-on experience of the difference between their traditional organisational culture compared to a more agile customer-centred way of thinking and doing.

8 redesigned service propositions

Eight proof of concept examples and short documentary film done during the programme has raised the awareness in organisational wide of the need for organisational change towards more customer centricity. A Chief Customer Officer was appointed to lead a dedicated Customer Experience team and customer experience has become a core focus area for all product and service change initiatives.

1 Design Thinking department established

Besides changing mindsets, a specific Design Thinking department was established, mandated to work across the entire organisation. This is now responsible for designing and delivering a comprehensive range of masterclasses, workshops and design sprints — of varying complexity — with cross functional teams of Bank of Ireland employees. The Experience Design Programme increased competences and gave strong mandate to engage customers and stakeholders to co-design and prototype early on.

We found the tools and approach extremely useful and need to embed these in our development going forward.”

Barbara O’Malley, Head of Retail Business Assurance, Bank of Ireland