As consumer behaviours evolve, the ways in which you try and understand them should evolve too. Head of Customer Labs, Brian Hoadley, talks about how customers are key to building the bank of the future.
Having worked with over 25 companies helping them conduct customer research and design, Brian Hoadley gave us his thoughts on the importance of listening to your customers and what attracted him his current role at Lloyds Banking Group.
We’re going through a huge transformation programme, what are you and your team doing to help Lloyds become the best bank for customers?
We work with customers on a daily basis. Hearing what our Customers have to say can be a humbling experience for many teams, but also a highly rewarding one when we know that what we do helps to improve the experience of our Customers – and consequently the satisfaction of our colleagues.
We all really enjoy what we do and we have a lot of fun doing it. It’s not just about work for the Customer Labs team. There is a passion and a desire to provide the kinds of services and capabilities that help our colleagues to engage as broadly as possible, while keeping a focus on ensuring that we are all supporting our core value of “putting customers first”.
My team are responsible for providing three fundamental capabilities:
- User Research: we provide user research services to projects within digital who are designing new products and services, transforming end to end customer Journeys, and looking for ways to improve existing services. This involves direct customer engagement by observing how they engage – or feel – about our products and services in our Lab environments, in branch or in their homes. This also applies to colleague engagement where we work to understand how colleagues engage with customers in these same environments
- Site Optimisation: We run continuous tests on our public websites in order to optimise the experience for our customers and create better levels of engagement, which can result in higher levels of customer satisfaction, and increased revenue for the bank.
- Insight: We provide insight for teams tackling strategic engagements, helping to inform them about how our customers engage with our products and services. We also asses research that is conducted in other parts of the bank, or through external sources and provide insight briefs to project teams who are looking for potential opportunities to improve our products or services, learn more about our customers, or are looking for potential new opportunities for growth.
I set Customer Labs up with a flexible engagement structure that would not exclude anyone across the bank who might find our services helpful in providing direct customer engagement in their projects. We have handled over 250 research requests since founding Customer Labs in August 2014 and have seen the outputs of our work positively affect our projects and teams.
In what ways is Lloyds pushing the boundaries in digital technology and banking? How has Lloyds had to evolve in order to leverage the opportunities that digital technology creates?
In some ways, the sheer scale of the program of digital transformation throughout the bank is pushing boundaries, as it means that so many aspects of the customer and colleague experience are being challenged at the same time. Managing this change is complex and difficult and takes a tremendous amount of skill and coordination to achieve successful results. We have to reimagine what it is to be a bank in a digital age, not just to accommodate our customers today, but to account for how we can position ourselves in the future. This is particularly important in such a highly regulated environment and with an increasingly active and engaged FinTech market emerging to challenge product and service offerings.
How would you sell the world of FinTech to someone outside the sector?
I would highlight that it is a tightly regulated area that, due to the importance of the kinds of products and services that we provide, can sometimes present real challenges in how to carry out our transformation efforts while finding creative solutions to working in a sometimes highly risk-averse environment.
There are, however, few organisations where your work can have such a direct impact on a large percentage of the population. This ability to design and improve services for customers, while at the same time transforming an entire organisation, presents a unique opportunity to make a difference and build up your experience.
What are your top three tips for people working in, or thinking about working in, FinTech?
- Understand that the environment can be very challenging due to regulatory and auditing requirements
- Focus on the challenges, how to solve them and how to engage customers in the process
- Immerse yourself in the FinTech community to better understand the market and what could be impacted by innovation in this space, but also keep a firm foot in other sectors to understand when something happening in another area might intersect or improve what you do
Beyond research and your everyday work, what are you most passionate about?
I’m passionate about equality. I think all humans should be equal. In particular I am interested in gay rights. In the nineties I was a Board member for a gay rights organisation, an organiser for OutWrite, the largest gay and lesbian writers conference in the world. I participated in various activist events promoting gay rights, including the 1993 March on Washington.I went to represent both the telecommunications company I worked for who were big sponsors of gay rights, and myself personally.
I’m currently working on a novel and I’m about three quarters of the way through the initial draft. I’m getting back to writing after a long hiatus – I have a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing – where I used to write a lot of short fiction and poetry. I also used to do performance poetry in Boston and was a regular at local poetry “slam” events.
Who are the top 3 people outside Lloyds who inspire you, professionally or personally? Please include at least one person specific to digital banking and one person unconnected to the industry.
Steve Jobs – for his vision, his determination in returning to Apple and reinventing it, and for delivering products and services that millions of Customers around the globe use and love.
Mike Bloomberg – former Mayor of NYC for his intelligence, business acumen and ability to manage large successful civil and financial services organisations.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee – inventor of the WWW who to this day advocates for the universality of access, allowing for a democratic Internet where everyone can participate.
“Intrapreneur, founder of Customer Labs and strong advocate of Customer engagement.”
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