Achieving UX supremacy: how digital innovators are transforming customer journeys

The digital transformation of our lives has created new expectations among consumers and businesses as to the way services and products are provided and ultimately used.

But how is the financial services sector responding to the new UX paradigm? And what will the next generation of UX innovations deliver for account holders, borrowers and investors?

To find out, Marqeta brought together thought leaders from across banking and fintech for an API Chronicles livestream titled Putting your cardholders in control: how to boss the UX space.

The panel comprised Mark O’Keefe, founding director of Optima Consultancy, James Lynn, co-founder of Currensea, Arseniy Korobchenko, solutions architect at Mambu, and Jas Shah, founder and consultant at Bitsul.

Between them, the panel discussed some of the key battlegrounds for UX supremacy, including: customer retention, consistency between digital and non-digital customer touchpoints, UX in the cost of living crisis, organisational culture’s influence on UX, and the role of APIs.

Here’s a flavour of what they had to say…

On why onboarding and offboarding matter in UX

James Lynn, from Currensea, described how his business kept track of UX in real time through a dashboard displayed for all team members to see, showing all stages of the onboarding funnel. This enables Currensea to continually refine and optimise onboarding speeds.

He said: “Ultimately for every customer that shows an interest and starts at the top of that funnel and the onboarding level, there’s a drop off point. You’ve paid money to get a customer the job. So every single customer you lose, that onboarding journey is a massive expense. So, improving that through A/B testing at every single stage is something that never stops. It’s critical from a commercial angle, and also from that sort of first impression angle for the consumer.”

Jas Shah, of Bitsul, explained that getting the offboarding process wrong, with a clunky, time-consuming experience, could have a negative impact on a business too. “When people offboard, they’ll leave a bad review if it’s taken them 10 hours to get money out or if they’ve decided to leave and it takes another two days to get in touch with someone. It’s a frustrating experience. People are more likely to leave a bad review when they’ve had a really, really bad experience versus if they’ve had an OK experience,” he said.

And according to Mark O’Keefe, of Optima Consultancy, financial services businesses needed to be mindful of end users’ wider experience of other services: “Our expectations about how quick and seamless things should be, change according to other things we use not just banking apps, whether that’s the way we display stuff in TikTok or Instagram or whatever. Fintech and banking apps have got to move along with that.”

On what best practice with APIs looks like

James Lynn, of Currensea, kicked off by explaining the critical role APIs play in providing an optimised UX for his customers, with speed and performance being the two vital attributes of a good API. He said businesses needed to be clear about what they wanted to build themselves and what they wanted partners to provide.

“We use a huge amount of partners in our app – it’s all about building what you’re good at. The ability of those APIs is absolutely critical to getting that good UX.

Take the onboarding experience, for example. When someone’s onboarding with us, they’ll be doing an open banking journey. We’ll be doing KYC, pay app, sanctions, AML checks – it’s all something that will all just happen as they’re doing the journey. There’s no selfies, or passport photos, it’s all unbelievably fast. Now, if one of those APIs was unreliable or slow, the whole journey breaks and we lose the customer.”

Arseniy Korobchenko, from Mambu, felt that it was essential APIs, in addition to speed and performance, needed to fit into a bank’s or fintech’s overall architectural approach. He also thought that there was no point building a product in-house from scratch, even if budget permitted, if someone else was already offering a great UX journey via an existing API. “Why build things yourself when you can actually go to the market and pick something out that is already there, that is way superior to whatever you will be investing in yourself?”

Coming back on this point, James Lynn, from Currensea, highlighted a third factor in API best practice: partner culture. “When we look at all our partners the first questions we ask are, are they very API driven? Do they have sandbox environments? Do we actually need to have a huge consulting project to figure out how to actually do something together, even in the sandbox environment?” he said.

Why intuitive UX matters in a cost of living crisis

With lots of people facing an unprecedented squeeze on living standards, it’s understandable that many will need to communicate more frequently with their banking providers. However, the way banks facilitate conversations with consumers can make a huge difference, as Mark O’Keefe, of Optima Consultancy explained: “Monzo, within their UX, asks customers ‘do you need to tell us something’ – it’s a very smart way of giving an open-ended option to a customer,” he said, adding that it contrasted with other approaches in which users had a menu of preset topics to choose from.

On how large players are delivering standout UX

Another highlight of the livestream came when the panel talked about UX innovations among large banking providers, with Mark O’Keefe calling out NatWest for its video meeting functionality.

“It’s now possible to have instant video chat conversations in the NatWest or the RBS app. That’s really powerful. And it’s something that emerged from the pandemic, when people became comfortable – even grandmas and granddads – on Zoom.

It means people now have the ability to say ‘well, you know what, yeah, it’s inconvenient for me to perhaps go down to the bank branch but I need to talk about a mortgage.’ This feature gives people the ability to talk to a real person in a very convenient way.” he said.

Mark also cited Starling’s telephone authentication functionality, in which a six-digit dynamic code, which continually refreshes, is provided in the app and is quoted by the account holder when launching a real-time conversation with a member of the bank’s staff. It means customers can quickly resolve their issue in a secure way without a time-consuming ID verification process.

The panel wrapped up by exploring how UX innovation would involve in 2023 and beyond, taking in personalisation, end user goal setting and knowledge sharing.

To find out what they had to say on this in full, watch the Putting your cardholders in control: how to boss the UX space livestream here.