Developing a cooperative omni-channel customer journey
The Cooperative Financial Network (Genossenschaftliche Finanzgruppe Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken; GFG) has asserted its strong position in German retail business in recent years achieving stable results despite the financial market crisis. However, cooperative banks—the solid basis for GFG’s success—are facing historical challenges due to tighter regulatory restrictions, the ongoing low yield environment and digitalization. The “CustomerFocus— retail customers” project aims at comprehensively integrating and further developing sales channels to establish an excellent omni-channel customer experience for retail customers as well as the transfer of cooperative strengths into the digital world.
project content and approach
The framework for conceptual development and implementation of the cooperative omni-channel strategy is based on five subject areas (see figure): The aim is to create unique customer experiences across all channels— thinking from the customer’s perspective.
A consistent omni-channel customer experience is ensured through a fully integrated sales and service model. Business processes can be optimized with an efficient and safe infrastructure and a unified data structure. To support this, forward-looking management, personnel and innovation models as well as efficient processes will be created. These subject areas and the initiatives included are developed and prioritized in a broad decision- making process with all stakeholders of GFG. The consistent aim is to deliver achievable results with high relevance for customers and members of Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken.
These subject areas were initially defined as part of a broad synchronization process in the form of a comprehensive, coordinated strategy program involving all stakeholders (local banks, GFG companies, Fiducia & GAD IT, DG Verlag, VR-NetWorld, cooperative auditing associations and BVR). The conceptual work in the overall program and all sub-projects are consistently managed in an integrated manner. Initial implementable results should already be delivered during the conceptual design stage.
By developing a target image for the group’s omni-channel model, the strategic foundation was established for integrating sales channels at local cooperative banks which have so far acted independently. Based on this integration, sub-projects work on developing respective solutions for future branch types and branch network structures, the customer service center and the digital sales channel. A central authentication process will allow a single login to the overarching association. Through digital networks, account holders of cooperative banks will also be able to experience cooperative membership as the unique selling proposition of Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken digitally. Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken have already been provided with the first new case-closing processes for improving the customer experience.
The consistent customer centricity within the project is also visible in the “Cooperative customer experiences” sub-project. The aim of the initiative was to develop new and unique cooperative customer experiences. To do so, the customer perspective was first analyzed in 120 faceto- face interviews with retail customers throughout Germany and consolidated into eight fictitious figures, also known as Personas. For the six essential areas of customer need (“change to living situation / home finance”, “putting money aside”, “saving for retirement”, “investing capital”, “managing liquidity” and “hedging risks”), over 30 customer journeys were developed for these personas in which the experiences as well as positive and negative perceptions of the personas are included. Based on the strengths and weaknesses of the personas, over 300 ideas for omni-channel financial services were developed along the customer journeys as part of design thinking workshops in the specially-established “Cooperative Creative Lab”. For the most attractive ideas from customer and bank perspectives, prototypes were developed and tested with customers. The first ideas are currently being implemented. In an environment resembling a start-up, employees from all companies and organizations of GFG were involved. The results of this work highlight the innovative strength at GFG.
Through the systematic use of innovative methods in the project work—besides design thinking (see figure) co-creation and agile project methods were also used— as well as digital collaboration and communication platforms in project management, the seeds for a digital culture are planted in the GFG.
Overview of the design thinking process
outlook and conclusion
The conceptual project work continues in 2017 together with zeb as a partner in the overall project management for selected business content-related sub-projects. Besides the implementable design of omni-channel sales channels and access points, other main topics include sustainable personnel concepts. At the same time, implementable results are delivered to Volksbanken Raiffeisenbanken successively and regularly in order to be able to utilize the already existing options for omni-channel customer experiences today. This lays the foundations for achieving the target image of an omni-channel model in GFG's retail customer business.