Design Research on Channel Migration for Pakistan’s Largest Retail Bank

With the people across the world changing how they interact with financial services, HBL faced a challenge in adapting to the changing needs of their vast customer base – which crosses over 20 million customers across 15 countries. Designist partnered with HBL to understand how customers interact with financial services in HBL’s brick-and-mortar branches, and what needs to be done to migrate these users towards cost-effective digital channels

Design Research

Our team identified 7 core transactions that take place at branchess, both financial and non-financial, such as fund transfers, bill payments, and balance inquiries. We visitied branches across Karachi, Lahore and Islamanbad to identify different insights that helped us completely understand these 7 transactions. Our field research provided us with over 200 customer interviews, gathering data that was essential in building detailed customer journeys.

Customer Journey Mapping

A journey map is a visual representation that helps identify all the touchpoints of a product or service that a user experiences.

Building out the customer journey maps for each of the 7 transactions helped us identify the friction and pain points that are occuring for the customer, at each stage of their experience with the service that HBL provides. This first step of identifying pain points, for both service users and service providers, is helpful in laying foundations that allow us to ideate solutions to tackle the issues. The journey map also helps identify the non-tangible experience that customers go through i.e. being greeted, how long they have to stand in a line, the bank staff’s behaviour towards them.

Process Mapping

The process mapping exercise enabled us to engage branch employees – particularly in understanding how the transaction experience varied across different branches. Even with standardised process documentation, we noted that each branch brings in their subtle changes in approach – sometimes good, and sometimes not so good.

Artifacts study

Designist also conducted an in-depth study into the various artifacts that had to be utilised by the service user and service provider – with the different approaches being utilised to build our suggestions. During this period, it was also noted how each branch had a different mechanism to solve for common recurring issues.

Co Creative Session

Designist led a 3-day co-creative session with the HBL team to reflect on different challenges that we uncovered during our field research; faced by the customers and the employees at the branches. These ideation sessions were able to gather innovative solutions and unique insights of each stakeholder representative. Our research laid the platform for the bank’s Channel Migration agenda – where employees were incentivised to ensure that customers shift their high volume, low value transactions towards digital channels. 

HBL and Designist, through this service design research, were able to lay a foundation for the bank to move towards a digital first identity – first at a branch staff level, as that is the first level of engagement for customers. The Channel Migration agenda at HBL has led to more than 40% year-on-year growth in mobile banking app users, and more than 90% year-on-year growth in digital transaction volume.