Concept: Happy Customer/Envato Elements
Concept: Happy Customer/Envato Elements

The Background

In 2012, a large multi-national bank saw customer traffic through brick and mortar branches drop by 40% in its largest market. On the surface, not much appeared to have changed; the economy was still growing, some minor regulatory changes had come, but they were mostly focused on communication. Nothing ground-breaking had emerged from the competition either.

Market research said that the bank needed an improved digital experience. Mobile banking apps, investment decision-making tools, and other self-serve solutions had been earning critical praise for years, and customers seemed to love them too. Considerable effort had been made to build an array of tools that would let customers answer common financial questions, a solution that reduced their need to make a visit to a branch. This approach had been designed with the millennial in mind, but generation X and the baby boomers had also been making use of these digital enhancements.

Technology was causing behavioural change more broadly as well. Millennials were still leading the charge of digital adoption, but baby boomers were also realizing the convenience of self-serve digital solutions. The buzz around Fintech solutions like Apple PayÓ and other cashless solutions were making digital channels more accessible to a wider range of customers. In short, as consumers became more comfortable using self-serve, and the had built some great solutions to help, customer traffic dropped.

Customer Journey Mapping

This still left the traditional network with a challenge. They still had targets to hit, closing branches would upset customers (and employees), so too could reducing the size of the workforce (a little over 35,000 in 2012). While work was progressing in these areas (some branches would eventually close), it was critical that when customers did visit a branch, the team greeting them was better equipped to handle their requirements. First, we needed to understand why a customer would make a branch visit, and what they expected during and after. In short, we needed to do Customer Journey Mapping exercises.

For the unfamiliar, Customer Journey Mapping exercises bring stakeholders from across departments together in order to explore customer goals, needs and experiences before, during and after their interactions with a company.

Typically, these groups include marketing, sales, human resources, operations (in Banks, credit risk, and finance teams are also common). The exercises were designed to forge a common understanding across departments of key customer segments. Represented by customer personas, the team redefines customer segmentation into three groups based on profitability, and then further by life stage (this will vary by industry). While Risk and Product teams will identify opportunities for their teams to add value; Marketing will find ways to be more relevant and timely; Sales, Human resources, and Operations will also identify their own opportunities for improvement.

Early Findings – Look at Employee Onboarding

Recruitment, Training, Sales all had separate databases, only occasional presentations between teams were made. Insights were combined haphazardly, or more plainly,

Sales teams complained about Training, and Recruitment while Recruitment and Training complained about the lack of constructive, timely feedback from sales teams.

No dashboard existed tying together who had interviewed, trained, and managed an employee to with performance data. In short, the employee onboarding experience was not clearly understood from a performance perspective.

There were two steps to solving this:

First, this employee onboarding experience was mapped into a performance dashboard that captured:

Recruitment Source à Recruiter Interview à Panel Interview à Training Branch à Assigned Trainer/Manager/Branch à Placement Branch à Performance Through First Annual Review

Second, the customer segmentation and customer journey mapping work suggested a new approach to training would better suit the learners and customers. This new approach included the addition of several new training workshops focused on improving discovery and advisory skills during customer interactions.

Trainees, – especially millennials – often feel their contributions are not making a difference to their colleagues, their customers, or the organization – findings that were confirmed through employee satisfaction surveys. A small change to the training program made a significant improvement to trainee performance and customers satisfaction.

Like many industries, financial services is a seasonal business, during tax season customer needs were often different than during summer months. Trainees were hired throughout the year, and for most, confidence in front of customers and an ability to support their team –“ which they wanted”, would come only with practical exposure (having the customer conversation, completing a transaction).

The solution? We introduced a seasonal training calendar that changed the order of the modules. Not only was this more relevant to customer needs as they changed, but it allowed trainees to provide real value to their teams sooner while becoming proficient in a wider range of tasks more quickly.

The final step was to present employee on-boarding performance through a shared performance dashboard presenting insights from the beginning of the employee onboarding experience through to its conclusion (a completed in-role annual assessment). This presentation became the nudge that ensured employee on-boarding was more responsive to the needs of the stakeholders (customers, and sales teams).


Applying customer experience design principles to employee onboarding saw a number of great improvements + an unexpected boost to employee engagement. Here are the vitals:

  • >50% Reduction in Employee On-boarding Time – Down from Six months to Three
  • >90% Success rate with New Hires – Through first year
  • >70% New hires exceeding financial targets by the end of their first year


While companies in different sectors, countries, business lines  will have different cycles, success can be repeated with three tasks:

  1. Project team empowered by C-suite looks at employee on-boarding through the lens of a customer journey map.
  2. Group reviews Job Descriptions, Interview Approaches, Learning & Development, Performance Assessments, Communication Tools, as required
  3. Performance dashboard is added for accountability, to observe results and adapt as required.

That’s it. Understanding the change in customer behaviour requires customer insight data to be explored across a timeline experienced by the customer, in this case, the employee. Once that’s done, a team of smart, hardworking folks from every team involved in employee onboarding use a customer journey map as the context for understanding how employee on-boarding was happening at present. Then they applied unique approaches (to their organization) that touched recruitment, training, performance management, and communication.

The results of this work speak for themselves, but the principles have since been expanded to cover succession planning, manager training, and leadership development. A similar approach was used to understand why a successful employee jumps to join the competition that also had promising results.

In short, customer experience design can be applied to almost any area of an organization, provided that a proper customer journey mapping exercise has been completed. Once done, an empowered team and proper change management principles will ensure that the investment will both immediate and long-term dividends.

Results from this exercise came in less than three quarters.


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