On first glance, Chase Bank, a bank that lost the trust of its depositors is being acquired/managed by a bigger, more stable bank, KCB. Sentiments on the ground and on social media though, provide more nuance. Hyperbole not withstanding, Chase Bank customers appear to fear the association of banking with KCB more than they fear losing their deposits.
There’s a catalogue of jokes and memes that followed the announcement of the alliance last Wednesday, as well as some lukewarm newspaper commentary. The online messages are almost Premier League like in their allegiance to either bank.
If any consensus can be inferred from online chatter, it is that Chase Bank is a customer-focused bank and KCB is an operations-focused bank.
There is some truth to this.
Chase Bank has an evolved Customer Experience (CX)
2 years ago, I walked into the Chase Bank offices at Delta Corner Nairobi, to consult on digital user experience. Immediately I noticed the purpose written on the wall
“Enabling people achieve the things that matter to them most.”
This mission statement as anyone who helps organisations define their values will attest, is genius.
Why it’s special:
1. It is compact, shorter missions are clearer and easier to remember.
2. It is outward facing and largely addresses the customer not the organisation, in Kenya this is as rare as a hen’s tooth.
3. It opens up room for conversation and relationships with clients it instructs you to find what’s important to them.
4. It is flexible in that it doesn’t assume in the universal uniformity of success and embraces the idea that different outcomes matter to different people.
The CX strategy basically starts here. The mission is the core of Chase Bank’s emotional intelligence, The brand is structured around empathy and is able to simply, clearly and effectively communicate its “Relationship Bank” proposition.
In the words of the iconic singer David Bowie “They make you feel important.” This is why Chase Bank have a high loyalty, with a strong attachment to the brand.
Chase Bank have innovated around an aspirational CX driven strategy. They have also built products around some channels especially in digital that give customers better access and control of their finances. It feels as though, when they are designing products they ask themselves what customers want. They think about scenarios. This is what design thinking involves.
Many of their customers that we talked to feel that they got really good service at the bank. This demand for an elevated experience is deemed by many to be a generational lifestyle product. It shouldn’t be, emotional CX is the future, its how all brands, services and interactions will be judged.
In any case the bunch of good-looking, power-suited 20 somethings who work for Chase look like they would be part of the bank’s target audience. In theory that makes them more likely to empathise with their peers. Since the hiring patterns are very obvious, one has to assume its strategic.
KCB have very good Brand Assets & Infrastructure
All the banks that have recently executed expensive identity rebrands complete with living room furniture in the lobby, only to end up with a uniformed watchman as concierge, would do well to copy KCB’s rebrand.
KCB don’t find themselves rescuing Chase Bank accidentally. They are a brand that does the meat and potatoes of banking services very well.
Firstly, they have easily the most recognisable brand colour around since Kenya Power dropped their mint shade. The vibrant luminous green infuses energy into the brand and is complementary to the navy blue. The identity and name were a good evolution, flexible for digital formats and haven't aged at all since they were introduced.
KCB are also very good when it comes to analog transactions, their multi-functional A5 sized deposit slip would probably win form of the year every year if such an award existed.
KCB have also metaphorically deposited equity in our hearts through their excellent sports sponsorship strategy. They have proven that there are some valuable commercial opportunities available locally, while building trust and integrating with the community.
In the lobby they have instituted queueing systems and theatre seating for traffic management, they also boast one of the fastest average transaction time per customer at the teller. All these are excellent CX interventions.
In terms of banking infrastructure they have truly-regional, well situated branches, an intelligently strategic ATM network. The experience from agent banking and the mobile app is also good, online banking exists too, though that got more complaints.
KCB do all the rational things quite well, however the emotional layer in their CX is not as mature as it can be, they don’t address stress points and pain points as well as they should.
Bigger banks generally exhibit lower CX maturity, KCB are in decent fighting shape for their weight class, but they can get even better.
Towards a Future of CX Compatibility
There are many innovation solutions that can help map out the overlaps around the competencies of both banks. Diving deep into some design thinking processes would help unearth the obvious gems to be found in the synergistic and cross-cutting issues between the two organisations.
We’ve used a basic Melt Frame Canvas below to illustrate the obvious relationship between the CX approach of the two banks.
KCB needs to find the ability to manage simple and complex customer needs whilst maintaining the personal level of engagement that Chase Bank has. Conversely, Chase Bank also has some material lessons to learn from KCB.
Most of KCB’s customers appear for the moment to have a lower perceived value for customer experience. This does not remain static, there is always an increase in perceived CX demand. Ideally both banks should undertake an audit of their respective customer journeys in order to identify areas for best practice transfer.
A cursory glance at the HR website glassdoor.com also hints at some differences in work culture between the brands. Having some strategies to synchronise group-wide culture would work wonders for a consistent customer experience.
Its seems that KCB are taking a measured, long-view to this merger/management, which is a good thing. The group CEO already hinted that they will retain the best practices, policies and systems of the two cultures, rather than keeping one company’s policies and abolishing the others.
Eventually this approach and some exploration around a unifying CX update will create an organisation with big bank capability and a small bank connection.
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