Changing Customer Journeys and Experiences

September 4, 2019

Changing Customer Journeys and Experiences

How many of you remember bank passbooks?  These small paper books were used to record banking transactions, usually written and updated by tellers for consumers.  This was often the first experience children had when parents would help them open bank accounts.  Now the first payments experience by a child is likely to be an in-app purchase on a tablet computer or phone.  I can also remember visiting one of my uncles who worked at a bank and marveling at the large number of bankers updating ledgers with debits and credits in a single room.  The journey has changed dramatically on the B2B side as well!

Recently, we did a podcast about changing customer journeys by interviewing Roger Desai, CEO of Payfone and Jason Wilk, CEO of Dave, that uncovered quite a bit about what they’ve seen and experienced on this topic.  I also recently had the privilege of interviewing Susan Ehrlich, CEO of Earnest.  Susan and I have known each other for many years, beginning when we were both at Citi Cards.  Susan’s experience in financial services spans from traditional banking (Simple, Citi) to fintech (Lending Club, Amazon). In addition to her role as Chief Executive Officer at Earnest, Susan serves as Chairman of the Board of BECU, the nation’s 4th largest credit union. She’s an avid golfer, wine enthusiast and traveler, having visited all 50 states and over 30 countries.  Here are some notes from my conversation with Susan.

Sanjib: How have customer journeys in financial services changed over the past few years?

Susan: Customers expect the same mobile-optimized, instant fulfillment, seamless user experience from financial institutions that they’ve come to expect from any other product or service. Customers don’t need to - and won’t - make exceptions for sub-par service and experiences from banks and any other financial services providers. There are so many choices across the product landscape, if you aren’t keeping up, your customers will move on.

Sanjib: How much do customer journeys differ by segment?

Susan: At Earnest, we serve graduates, students, and those supporting students. Each segment has their own pain-points, and we’ve done extensive user research in our Usability Lab to understand these. Before launching our private student loan this team conducted over 300 hours of user interviews and hands-on testing. The direct feedback we hear from clients in these sessions informs the design/redesign our user experience. This ensures we are staying close to our customers and their preferences.

Sanjib: How do you view the balance between security, convenience and privacy?

Susan: Is this a trick question? For fintech, this is very much a security AND convenience AND privacy balance. Security is the linchpin though. Security is trust, and we refuse to compromise our clients’ trust in Earnest by sacrificing security.

Sanjib: How are you designing your products and services for the future, rather than for yesterday?

Susan: Our product managers, designers, and engineers make extensive use of our Usability Lab to guide our development of the customer journey. Even sessions that are designed for one team can end up informing other work we are doing. We are in-market every two weeks gaining new insights that inform our work and keep us on the pulse of their needs; we’re also avid about soliciting and reading customer reviews and feedback on social channels. And we are very proud of the positive feedback from our customers!

Sanjib: How have customer journeys in the wine industry changed over the past few years?

Susan: Fun question! Wine has entered the mobile era too. I love the Vivino and Drizly apps. Discovering a nice bottle of wine, capturing the bottle info with Vivino and ordering it for same day delivery to my door on Drizly; does it get any better?! Buying wine used to be intimidating - like going into a bank for a lot of people. But apps like these are making it more accessible.

Sanjib: Is there anything the financial industry could learn from the wine industry?

Susan: These are both HEAVILY regulated industries. But that doesn’t mean that innovation and disruption isn’t coming. Look at the proliferation of brands (Josh, Butter) and packaging (tetrapak, cans) and marketing over the past few years. Bank branches are going the way of the liquor store. They’ll be there—just less relevant to the next generation of customers.

Susan, Roger and Jason will all be speaking at Money20/20 in Las Vegas, October 27-30, so if any of this is interesting to you, you should register and join us in Vegas!  This year at Money20/20 in Las Vegas, we’ll have more coverage of these trends that will help you understand what is happening across the industry, how you can take advantage of these trends, and figure out practical steps to move forward.  Just like a fine bottle of wine, this knowledge can enhance your life.  Unlike a fine bottle of wine, it shouldn’t be stored on a shelf, but enjoyed sooner rather than later.  Join the conversation on LinkedIn and let your voice be heard!  Cheers!