In what a federal judge called "one of the biggest blunders in banking history," an absolutely confusing internal use interface cost Citigroup over $500 million USD back in August of 2020.
In an even larger mistake, back in 2018 Deutsche Bank accidentally sent $35 Billion USD to an account due to what was called an “operational error.” The firm realized the error in a matter of minutes and rectified the problem.
As a final, and possibly craziest example, PayPal accidentally transferred an amount of $92 quadrillion USD to a man in Delaware named Chris Reynolds in 2013.
When financial institutions think about disaster scenarios, they often think of security breaches, market destabilization, geopolitical risk, and more. What you don’t often hear about is the risk of massive internal errors due to poor planning, design, and simple human mistakes in and between back office digital tools.
The Importance of Internal UX
Knowing this, have you considered just how important internal-facing user experiences are, not just for avoiding disaster, but for the day-to-day performance of your organization and maintaining customer satisfaction?
The mistakes that make the news are the ones that are so big that everyone pays attention. But poorly designed processes can contain many mistakes and inefficiencies that are ultimately undercutting how well you serve your customers. And they go unnoticed.
The Ripple Effect of Poor UX
Back office processes that directly impact the speed of customer-facing experiences, like documentation review in digital onboarding, and internal processes key to your operations could both see massive benefits in efficiency and error reduction through better UX.
Far too often, we hear thought leaders detail the value of customer-centric experiences as part of digital transformation. Yet, there seems to be a tendency to overlook the critical connection between fostering a positive experience for internal employees and the ability to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
As organizations step further into more customer-centric approaches, the reality is that as customers ourselves, many of us still feel a palpable disconnect between different areas of the organization through delays, misaligned information, and a lack of communication.
An Oversight in Digital Transformation
This is not for a lack of trying. As part of their digital transformation, and in a search for increased operational efficiency, organizations have digitized most of their internal processes. However, when this digitization is executed in silos, and focused on tools and not on people, organizations can easily end up with a mix of third-party and in-house solutions. Those solutions, although solving specific issues, can often lack coherence and connectivity, creating systemic complexity.
These disconnected experiences bring along some potential pitfalls such as operational inefficiency, higher risk of mistakes, information misalignment, longer learning curves, miscommunication, redundant tasks, and more. These pitfalls can then directly impact your capacity to serve your customers with speed and quality of service.
The Missing Piece
Experience design is much more powerful than just creating aesthetic appeal. It’s about usability, accessibility, functionality, consistency across tools, intuitiveness, performance, feedback, error prevention and recovery, user satisfaction, and more. Let's remember that what is making all these internal processes work are people, and the experiences they have in their day-to-day work impacts the quality of that work, their efficiency, and their level of satisfaction, impacting their productivity.
Benefits of Focusing on Internal UX
There are a number of both benefits to gain and pains you can avoid by turning a focus inward to better experience design:
Streamlining Workflows: your people and teams can typically work more efficiently when the tools they navigate are more intuitive, repetitive tasks are automated, and workflows are made to be as simple as possible.
Collaboration and Communication: Good internal UX promotes clearer, more effective communication and collaboration among team members by facilitating how information gets shared.
Cutting Waste and Increasing Efficiency: Properly designed internal systems help in identifying and eliminating redundant tasks, and reduces waste. This increases overall operational efficiency by not only saving time but also conserving resources that can be better utilized elsewhere.
Reduced Training Cost: Intuitive and user-friendly internal applications decrease the need for extensive training. New employees can onboard quicker and with less investment in training resources, leading to cost savings and faster integration into productive roles.
Employee Satisfaction: Exceptional internal application UX directly contributes to employee satisfaction. When employees find the tools they use in their daily work easy to navigate and operate, they experience less frustration and stress. This, in turn, can boost morale and overall job satisfaction.
Lower Error Rates/Increased Data Accuracy: Well-designed internal systems minimize the risk of errors by providing clear instructions and streamlining complex tasks. This means an increase in data accuracy and reliability, crucial for informed decision-making.
Enhanced Data Security: Having poorly integrated systems in internal processes can mean that people have to manually input data from one platform to another, or send data to another team via email or internal communications platforms. This can put sensitive customer information at risk. A robust UX design ensures a more secure data handling process, mitigating the potential for unauthorized access or data breaches.
Challenges in Developing an Internal UX Strategy
If developing an internal UX strategy were easy, none of the cautionary tales in the introduction would likely have happened. But, there are many challenges that come with adapting a perspective that places value on internal process experiences:
Justifying the Investment: Generating metrics to defend the business case for internal UX improvements can be difficult due to the absence of baseline data. Unlike customer-facing UX, internal UX benchmarking is inherently challenging due to the absence of external references and limited comparability with competitors. Also, quantifying the return on investment (ROI) is challenging as benefits may not be immediately apparent or easily quantifiable. Metrics such as increased productivity, reduced errors, and improved employee satisfaction may need to be carefully translated to dollar values.
Various Stakeholder Objectives: Successfully delivering a service or product to a client within a financial institution typically involves collaboration among various internal teams, such as commercial relationship managers, risk and compliance, and treasury and finance. A key challenge lies in designing a UX that caters to the diverse objectives of these team members while maintaining high levels of usability and information security.
Resistance to Change: Employees often get used to the quirks and limitations of their internal tools, eventually accepting suboptimal UX as a natural part of their work environment. They’d rather stick to the devil they know, than adapt to other ways of working that they may not have confidence in.
Tips for Enhancing Internal UX
Improving internal UX involves understanding the day-to-day experiences of people and teams working in your organization. Integrating user feedback, prioritizing insights from UX experts, leveraging out-of-the-box UX tools, and more can all help add toward a better end-to-end customer experience:
Survey teams who use important systems that impact customers:
Are there any pain point tasks that often cause frustration?
Are they aware of areas where errors are more likely to happen?
How easy or difficult is it for new employees to learn certain critical tasks?
Are there processes that seem to take more time than necessary? How can we improve efficiency?
How well do different platforms work together?
Give ownership to your UX experts, allowing them to contribute valuable insights to internal processes and lead comprehensive improvements in alignment with the customer experience.
Consider the UX out-of-the-box of the tools that are part of your stack. How difficult are they to operate? What's the learning curve?
How Modyo Helps Power your Back Office
As a platform dedicated to creating amazing user experiences, Modyo supports back office systems for several large organizations, many of which have taken a continuous evolution approach to enable better team alignment by streamlining workflows and enhancing communications. We have clients today that now have both higher operational efficiency and higher customer satisfaction as a result of their back office improvements, lowering their cost of acquisition while increasing the lifetime value of their customers.
The Modyo platform is designed to be intuitive and easy to use. Working within it doesn’t require advanced or unconventional knowledge, as experiences can be built using standard web technologies, or with development frameworks of your choice. It also comes with plenty of tools for content management and channel administration for non-technical teams.
Today, many large financial institutions count on Modyo as their strategic frontend development platform where they’re able to simplify their operations by having both customer-facing experiences (public sites, onboarding, private sites) and internal-facing experiences for different teams such as commercial, compliance, and documentation areas all managed and orchestrated in one unified place.
Enterprise UX design is a massive enabler of the digital workplace. It can empower hybrid teams, accelerate digital transformation, and contribute to achieving ROI from enterprise software.
You can invest in customer-facing experiences, but if your internal processes lack efficiency, the overall customer experience can be negatively affected. For instance, many financial institutions have well developed digital onboarding customer experiences, allowing their customers to complete them within minutes. But far too often these “onboarded clients” have to wait days before being able to use their products. This is often a failure of integrated (end-to-end) design.
Delays and/or a lack of communication can then impact how the customer views your brand, and their lifetime value. If you want to dive deeper into how to take a more integral approach to increasing customer acquisition and retention check out our whitepaper, Winning the Onboarding Game.
Financial institutions serving large customer audiences should adopt a holistic approach to UX, and make sure to include both internal processes and customer-facing services as part of a more comprehensive digital transformation strategy.