Want to Improve Customer Experience? Here’s Your Playbook

Creating a positive customer experience is key for any financial service provider (FSP) that wants to increase use of its services among low-income customers. A delightful customer experience – rooted in a deep understanding of customer needs – makes good business sense. More and more FSP staff who serve low-income customers get that. But where to start? And how to do it effectively?

Smiling woman, India
Photo by Jeanette Thomas

CGAP, along with Dalberg Global Development Advisors, worked last year with Janalakshmi Financial Services (Jana) in India to build a more respectful and positive customer experience for its over 3 million urban low-income customers. Now we have compiled our insights from this project into the Customer Experience Playbook. The Playbook is designed to guide FSP staff serving low-income customers to improve customer experience, or CX as it is called. The resource ultimately equips staff to help transform their organizations to better serve customers based on those customers’ needs, wants and aspirations.  

Over several months last year, a joint team of Jana, CGAP and Dalberg staff conducted research with Jana group-loan customers in Bangalore. We identified gaps in their experience, developed ideas for improving their experience, and prototyped some of these solutions. (See some of the research insights and solutions in this video.) Early successes in some of the solutions we built led to plans for scaling up the ideas nationally. But we realized that the majority of the transformation, both in Jana’s customer experience and within the organization itself, lay beyond the scope of this project.

After the first round of tests there would have to be more rounds, in more locations, followed by more scaling, now led independently by Jana staff spread all over the country. Beyond improving customer experience, Jana staff also wanted guidance on how to convince senior executives to approve formal avenues for customer experience innovation and allocate resources to achieve this companywide transformation. This is a typical change management problem, and we saw the need for a guide that could help Jana staff, based all over the country, to carry out customer experience improvement projects and make the case for organizational transformation.

This playbook was created for Janalakshmi staff. But we present it to FSP staff anywhere in the world, as a resource for understanding their customers better and improving their experience with financial services. We believe the set of strategic “plays” in this book will also be useful to the financial inclusion community at large and help promote customer-centricity at scale.

Use the playbook for either end-to-end customer experience projects in your organization or specific aspects such as user research or customer-experience ideation. It is divided into eight sections detailing different stages of embedding customer-centricity within the organization. Each section contains operating principles and useful tools for each stage. The Playbook also describes typical challenges faced in implementing such projects along with suggested solutions.

Idea rating template from Customer Experience Playbook
Tool 1 (above): An idea-rating card that allows the customer committee to rate various ideas that get tested in the field

The Playbook will help you:

  • Learn the core concepts of customer experience, such as customer lifecycle, pain points and challenges. It will also help you understand the importance of a positive customer experience for FSPs and for financial inclusion.
  • Manage customer experience projects and learn how to conduct immersive field research to identify challenges in the current customer experience. We address specific challenges in conducting objective, respectful and unobtrusive research in poor communities.
  • Generate solutions to customer experience challenges and design and run small-scale customer experience prototypes that improve different aspects of customer experience.
  • Measure success of your customer experience prototypes and decide which ones to take forward at scale with or without modifications.
  • Scale up successful customer experience prototypes across geographies and product lines
  • Understand how organizational structure, processes, incentives, and communications can help institutionalize a customer-centric culture within your organization.

We hope the Playbook proves to be of value to FSP staff in other organizations in promoting a positive customer experience, both incrementally and at scale, in their organizations and improving financial inclusion to low-income customers everywhere in the world.

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