Building societies—Evolve products and sales

In the future, building societies will have to win customers earlier and with suitable partners

Building societies have traditionally focused solely on saving and financing real estate. But today the competition for customers begins long before they decide to buy or build an apartment or a house. The search for real estate is now dominated by digital platforms, which offer their customers easy financing of housing construction. That is why building societies themselves should occupy this new customer interface and actively design it.


Building societies must fight much harder for every customer: due to (permanently) low interest rates, traditional building societies are becoming increasingly unattractive for customers—suitable and inexpensive loans are also available from other banks that can often offer faster business transactions. For customers, financing is merely one “necessary evil” on their path towards home ownership—and they want to make it as comfortable as possible. For this reason, they are happy to make use of other services that promise added value and benefits, and which are tailored to their life situation. These new ecosystems are almost exclusively designed digitally—and building societies must gain access to them and develop their position within them.


Building societies must also become recognized and respected players on Internet platforms and in the digital ecosystems that shape the real estate industry today. Customers inform themselves about the financing of private homes (whether bought or built) predominantly via the Internet. The digital platforms that help customers to quickly and easily find and broker real estate have a greater customer reach than the established building societies.

Higher visitor numbers make it clear that real estate and comparison sites are far more popular with customers than the online offers from building societies. And not without reason: the platforms, for example, create completely new price transparency through comparison possibilities that can be customized as desired. Building societies must be prepared to diversify their business beyond pure financing to ensure their survival. For example, it is necessary to enter cooperations with other providers in order to be able to offer customers differentiated and comprehensive services.


zeb helps building societies set up various digital interfaces:

  • portals that serve as a central point of contact for customers
  • platforms that mediate supply and demand as online marketplaces
  • ecosystems through which different providers can network to offer differentiated services to as many customers as possible

To set up and operate interfaces of this kind, zeb uses a proven methodology that analyses the situation of a building society and makes suggestions for further action. In it, zeb investigates fundamental questions in order to develop the right strategy for the respective customer: Which requirements should be met? How should suitable portals or platforms be designed? Furthermore, is developing an ecosystem strategically sensible and if so, what structure should it have? What are the costs and revenue models that come into play when entering this market?

The zeb model helps to answer these questions by presenting different options. For example, a building society can be one provider among many in an ecosystem, but it can also orchestrate its own offers or those of third parties as a value-added service provider.

As soon as a building society decides on a target model, zeb helps to develop a business model (system strategy, market placement and target customers), an operating model (development, commissioning, further development, partner management, data exploitation) and a financing model (business case, controlling).