As the way people engage with businesses becomes more about usability rather than persuasion, Service Design, or a blended focus on people, infrastructure, communication and the tangible components of a service, becomes increasingly important. To find out more about this at Lloyds Banking Group, we sat down with Alberta Soranzo, who recently joined the Digital division as Director of End-to-End Service Design, looking after a team of service designers and systems thinkers, who are supporting the Group’s transformation and beyond.
Alberta moved to the UK in 2014 working as Director of Experience Design and Innovation in two London-based agencies. In that consulting capacity, she worked with numerous financial services and FinTech organisations. Prior to coming to London, Alberta worked in Los Angeles for 16 years, looking after technology and experience design teams at the University of California and at the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
Alberta, why did you decide to join Lloyds Banking Group?
I chose to come to Lloyds Banking Group because I cannot resist a good challenge, and I was both excited – and intimidated – by the opportunity to affect change at such large scale. It didn’t hurt that it was our Digital Director who approached me on the back of a friend’s recommendation, and it took all of 5 minutes after meeting him to think, ‘I want to work with Zak!’
During the interview process everybody I met was warm, inspiring and, more importantly, direct. They spoke of an organisation with incredible legacy, committed to fulfilling its mission of providing excellent services to the people of Great Britain, and aware of its need to continuously evolve, in order to continue doing the right thing by its customers and employees.
The best part is that I found those observations to be true, especially when it comes to the ‘Humans of LBG’ – the people, our colleagues, are definitely what make us as strong and unique as we are, and I’ve rarely witnessed such a high concentration of talent and humanity in a large organisation.
Why is Service Design an increasingly important area?
Service Design is a fundamental element to the success of any organisation, especially those that, like Lloyds, primarily focus on the provision of services to their customers. If we don’t carefully consider the impact that our decisions have beyond their original scope, and the relationships between all the systems, processes and people that are involved in the delivery of a service, we create dysfunctional collections of isolated moments that can never be experienced as a cohesive whole by customers. In organisations, employees can also be impacted by a lack of service design – they often have to deal with systems that don’t communicate with one another, find workarounds to effectively complete their tasks and can then be more prone to making errors, which in turn slows processes down.
What are the opportunities for Service Design within Lloyds Banking Group?
They are everywhere. The Group’s Transformation program started about 18 months ago and is transforming a core set of customer journeys, both in the consumer and commercial spaces. The Group has made tremendous investments in research to thoroughly understand the ever-changing needs of its customers, and employ top talent to bring the best and latest service thinking to the British public.
This laser-like focus on customer needs has seen us tackle issues like bereavements services, developing new mechanisms to help our most vulnerable customers achieve better financial outcomes, or enable the most ambitious goals of our commercial clients.
We are working in multidisciplinary teams, where the financial acumen of our experts gets developed into thoughtful and accessible services by experience and service designers, researchers, systems thinkers and engineers. Access to cutting-edge technology and a pervasive drive for innovation are allowing us to simplify and rationalise systems and processes, and in turn to offer a range of products and services that are truly customer-centric.
What digital trends are you most excited about for 2017?
The pace at which technology evolves is dizzying, and if digital trends reports are to be believed, 2017 will see some pretty futuristic ideas become reality. I am particularly keen to explore the service possibilities that open banking and the thoughtful deployment of APIs are opening for us. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Bots are also front of mind, and it’s exciting to imagine how we could thoughtfully employ them to better support all our customers.
Are there Service Design roles available in your team?
Yes, although at the moment we can only recruit for contract roles. I have shared with my network on Twitter and LinkedIn that I’m looking for service designers. I know it’s time consuming, but I want to personally speak with all the people that may join the team, and understand who the people behind the CVs are.
It’s incredibly important to me that in the team — as we do in the Group at large — we all share a common vision and understanding of what the final outcome we set out to support is, and that tasks and responsibilities are designed and agreed upon together, once that understanding is reached.
What are your other passions and interests?
I’m madly curious about and interested in people, what motivates them and what drives behaviours. Complex systems fascinate me and if I had to choose a different profession (as much as that is possible – I believe professions choose you), it would have to be in logistics or distribution.
As anybody who’s ever worked with me can attest, I can be a bit obsessive about the use of language. I speak a few, and if I could choose a superpower, it would be to be an omnilingual*, as nothing frustrates me more than not being able to understand communications around me.
Finally, to relax and get rid of pent-up energy, I play ice hockey. The decision to start playing, some ten years ago, was my most successful midlife crisis.
*An omnilingual (or omniglot) is a person who has the ability to speak, or to understand, all languages. It is also an impossibility.