Gaining empathy and identifying unmet needs
The bank began drawing from the designer’s toolkit to gain insight and empathy for customers. Ultimately, using the best parts of different innovation approaches, a small team of four created DBS’s own customer-focused problem-solving model called the 4Ds – Discover, Define, Develop and Deliver.
4D was launched with a big bang in 2016 by CEO Piyush Gupta, to over 250 of the bank’s top managers at its Group Leadership Conference. He said, in no unclear terms, that they were to start at least one 4D journey after the conference.
The intent was to put top leaders into the shoes of the customers – they and their teams had to begin deeply understanding their – be it a regular man in the street, or a corporate client – and begin mapping out their banking journey.
Within six months, between 250 and 300 journeys were initiated from within the bank’s 26,000-strong workforce. These spread across DBS’s offices in Singapore, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, India and Indonesia.
The teams had coaches guide them in forming customers personas and went through the 4D process to articulate needs and motivations. These might have included observing customer interactions at physical outlets; analysing data from digital transactions; conducting in-depth interviews with customers to understand fears, concerns and hopes in order to distil insights and opportunities; brainstorming and testing new ways to make banking much more pleasant and even invisible for customers.
Mark Englehart Evans (centre with mask) with the DBS Transformation Team.
The bank also assembled a team of senior staff to create 10 Iconic Journeys to solve the bank’s Top 10 most difficult problems. By 2017, all 10 teams had delivered on their solutions.
One idea was to allow customers to apply for an instant credit card for their virtual wallets. So, a bank customer who clicked on a DBS advertisement on their mobile phones could have their credit card numbers instantly activated in their Samsung or Apple Pay apps.
Another was to provide seamless digital account activation for small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs). By understanding their customers better, staff realised that most of the SME sign-ups were existing consumer customers. They found a way to automatically pull out data to pre-fill the SME applications, saving customers the hassle of form filling. This seemingly simple “hack” led to a surge in SME account activation.
Seeing the wins, business units began to dedicate resources towards improving customer experience. Soon, the same happened regionally. The firm focus on customers was now beginning to take root across the bank. You could say, an inevitable culture change was taking place, with every new employee knowing what 4D and journey thinking was about, and being trained to employ the 4D tools.
4D on the Ground
Every year, at the bank’s Global Leadership Conference, its leaders would set the overall direction on what the bank wants to focus on.
On the ground, staff – who may be serving external customers or internal staff – would respond by coming up with ideas to start a customer journey.
“The process is completely decentralised now,” said Evans. “Anyone who wants to start a journey and use design thinking can go onto DBS’s intranet and download the toolkit.”
Today, teams would huddle – to discover, define, develop – in meetings rooms, using lots of Post-its to map their ideas. They may go out to interview customers or bank staff, depending on their target group.
They could draw on online resources, containing materials on the 4D method. If they needed more help, they would call on coaches from Evans’ team for mentorship.