4 keys to customer-focused innovation

By Diana Hart

Can every customer experience be as easy as ordering an Uber? At Elevate Toronto, a three-day innovation conference, some of the brightest minds from the start-up community and corporate sector gathered to share their ideas and experiences around customer-driven digital innovation.

Dave Dame is the Agile Leader at Digital Factory, Scotiabank’s digital innovation hub. He shared his advice on what companies should be thinking about in order to keep up with the rapidly changing digital world.

Be a solution, not a problem
Whether they are ordering dinner or picking out a movie, customers are becoming used to quick, easy, intuitive, user-friendly experiences. Other industries, particularly banks, need to understand that these heightened expectations are the new normal.

“The world around our customers is moving quicker than ever and they have new stresses,” Dame says. “We can’t have banking being one of those stresses. They get to do things easily, like ordering an Uber ride or ordering food by one click. We need to make our banking that unconscious so they spend most of their time living their life and not focused on their banking.”

Your competition could be anywhere
According to research by Accenture, one in three customers would consider switching their bank accounts to Google, Amazon or Facebook if those companies began offering financial services.

Customers are increasingly willing to trust their information and money with newer companies and startups, as well as the established household names in tech. When looking at your competition, you need to look beyond what your established competitors are doing; you need to be aware of the absolute best service experience that your customer has throughout their day.

It’s up to your company to offer customers a compelling reason to stay with you and not rely on brand loyalty, “We all need to hold ourselves accountable to make sure we keep customers for better reasons than ‘It might be complicated to leave.’” says Dame.

Innovate for your customer, not yourself
Innovation is about more than just having a cool interface on your latest app. Companies should keep their focus on customers, which means discovering what they actual want and need.

“In our Digital Factory, we brought in real experts to look at what people are doing in their day-to-day finances and how they are feeling in order to build them something they might not know they need or to fix a problem that they might not know exists,” says Dame.

By keeping your view, and research, concentrated on customers, you can keep in step with them as their interests and needs change over time. You need to constantly be working to improve your experience beyond what your customer might be expecting.

Redesign work to hire the best talent 
If you want to attract top people, you need to be committed to think like a start-up, such as having an openness to change, a fail-fast mentality and small, empowered teams.

When he was first approached by Scotiabank, Dame, whose background was in agile workspaces, wasn’t sure he would be the right fit. It was the Digital Factory’s culture that convinced him to take a chance on working for a bank.

“We hired a lot of new software engineers, design thinkers, data analysts, all rock stars in the industry that wouldn’t normally work for a bank,” Dame says. “When we interview some of our new hires, we find it funny that they are telling their friends they work at the Digital Factory and telling their mom and dad they work at Scotiabank.”