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Reimagining customer experience with smart research and design

Posted on: March 10, 2017 | Author: Aminah Syed

Did you know that identical twins can break the biometric security system on a mobile device? Well, until we gave a set of identical twins access to the ATB Mobile app, we didn’t, either.

“We tested with team members who have identical twins, a set in Calgary and a set in Edmonton. It was just a BETA test so it wasn’t fully functional but they could easily use their fingerprint or voice to get into their sibling’s accounts,” said Tawnya Crerar, director of UX research.

Crerar is part of a new user experience (UX) research team, part of whose job is to dig out little gems like that.

“We’re doing anything related to understanding and improving and enhancing the customer experience with ATB,” said Crerar.

Along with the UX research team—currently a team of two looking to grow over the next year—is the UX design team headed by Mike Barnlund, director of customer experience.

“I think banks in general have lagged behind some of the more technology-forward companies in terms of focus on user experience,” says Barnlund. “I think ATB’s got a unique opportunity to deliver world-class customer experiences that go beyond what other banks are delivering.”

Barnlund explains there’s a change in philosophy at the heart of the UX team. It’s called rapid iteration or sprints, something tech companies south of the border have regularly adopted.

“Perfection is something that you can’t really ever achieve,” said Barnlund. “We can spend all the time we want trying to get a product or service as close to perfect as possible but when you put it out to customers, there’s always going to be things that surprise you. It’s far better to get it out in front of some customers and see.”

The team stresses research. They start by asking what customer problem is being solved for. In some cases, it’s as simple as changing the wording on the cheque ordering form that ATB team members use, which reduces errors.

“Even though a customer doesn’t see the form we helped with directly, it is something that reduces errors on our side which means for a better customer experience when they get the cheques,” said Barnlund.

Once that problem or need is identified in a hypothesis, Crerar’s team takes on the research.

“In the past it was all based on gut feel. A marketing manager felt like something needed to look a certain way or a product person felt it needed a certain capability,” said Crerar. “Now we do both qualitative and quantitative research. We’ll go out and recruit customers and we’ll ask them to come in and sit down with us for 45 minutes to an hour. We’ll give them instructions ahead of time like, go and download this app, and then we’ll walk them through some tasks to do.”

The feedback and observational findings from Crerar’s team then helps Barnlund’s design team—also currently looking to grow in the next year—develop prototypes to be tested by more customers and eventually implemented as the real thing.

Some sprints are as short as two weeks. Other sprints can take months. Some customer feedback is as simple as a thumbs up or thumbs down email survey. Everything is based on research and direct customer feedback.

Barnlund and team are currently working on an update to ATB Mobile.

“We’ve been getting some poor App Store reviews on ATB Mobile,” said Barnlund. “If you’ve read the app store reviews, people are complaining about not being able to log in. It seems like ATB Mobile is always down.”

The team began to research why ATB was getting feedback like this. As it turns out, the problem was not ATB Mobile being down. The problem was that ATB Mobile does not work on jailbroken iPhones for security purposes.

“Now the thing is, we never told the customer that they may be seeing that message because they have a jailbroken phone. The message just says the network is unavailable. So our hypothesis here is that a lot of these customers have jailbroken phones and if we change the message, they’re going to think oh, ok, now I understand why that doesn’t work. It doesn’t mean they’re going to be happy. They’re going to wish their jailbroken phones still worked. But they’re no longer going to think it is ATB’s fault.”

The change in language in the app is one way that the UX team has been able to get into the customer’s headspace.

“In this case, we have an upset segment of customers with jailbroken phones. We know they’ve gone and hacked their phones in some way to enable functionality that wasn’t previously available,” said Barnlund. “These are the kind of people that the last thing they want to do is call the Customer Care Centre. So you have to think that even though the Customer Care Centre will know what the problem is, these people are not going to call. They’re going to try the app day-after-day instead. You have to think about the audience and make sure that you’re putting something forward in the experience that’s going to make sense for that customer.”

The problem is not completely solved, but letting the customer know what’s about to happen and why is enough to remove frustration Barnlund explained.

The work for Crerar and Barnlund is never going to be done. And they like it that way. Each day is a new way for the UX team to improve the way ATB’s customers interact with everything. Solutions are complex yet simple and this is only the beginning.

Interested in joining ATB’s customer panel? Looks for the My2Cents button when you log in to ATB Online Banking to join. There are also quarterly telephone surveys and emails sent out to customers to gather feedback.


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