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Smart self-services put customer benefits in the centre – an interview with Christine Reichardt, cashgate

When it comes to designing smart self-services, cashgate is facing various areas of conflict between added value for the customer, regulatory framework conditions and organizational structures. During the Digital Nudge Day 2018, Christine Reichardt, Head Sales Digital Channels Aduno Group / cashgate, showed us what cashgate does to find the right balance between these issues.

How to accompany customer on their journey

With its high sense of responsibility, commercial, social and regulatory restrictions and strict control by the media, the lending industry is not a «simple» patch. 

Christine Reichhard: Yes, indeed – we have to face various self-imposed and also externally imposed conditions. Our mission clearly states that we should think and act responsibly to protect the consumer from excessive indebtedness – in society’s best interest. Alongside this, the consumer credit act and our industry’s good advertising practice have set us narrow limits regarding communication and interaction with the customer. 

The customers’ desire to use self-service and the multitude of regulations in the banking industry – two divergent approaches? 

As a matter of fact, the lending process really contradicts the customer’s need for «instantness» and self-determination. The customer can only submit a loan application. Then they begin to wait and hope for a positive decision which is made by someone else. 

Considering this area of tension, how does cashgate then manage to use its smart self-services to accompany its customers on their journey?

We arrange all our self-services in the form of a customer journey, from information and evaluation, through filing of applications and lending, to loan increases or redemptions. In specific stages we focus on individual needs of the customer at this specific time. What drives them, what worries them? Only in this way can we make self-service really useful. We ask ourselves: what can we do with this self-service at this point to boost customer benefit?

Self-service in der Customer Journey von cashgate
Self-service in der Customer Journey von cashgate

«Instant satisfaction» when requesting a loan increase

Personalisation is a key determinant of success in self-service – but data protection is a big challenge in the financial industry. 

Yes, here too we need to find a way between what is legally feasible and what is sensible from the customer’s point of view: For example, in our loan increase request we solved this as follows: the customer provides only their date of birth and their contract number. We then offer them an anonymised individual statement regarding their loan. In this way, we comply with data protection requirements and can still offer a smart self-service to our customer. And this without the trouble connected with logging in. This is where we fully live up to the principle of «instantness» and provide the customer with an «instant satisfaction» of their needs next to an optimum digital customer experience. 

In which areas is cashgate involved in pioneer work?

We also see technologies as enablers of efficient processes for the customer. Processes that used to be complicated and affected by connection disruptions can now be simplified for the customer. For example, with our e-signing option, which we were the first in our industry to launch at the end of last year, we are enabling the customer to sign their loan agreement through digital channels. The need to actually visit the branch and send the signed document by post is thus eliminated. 

What are the key challenges when it comes to designing smart self-services? 

Every self-service involves different departments in our company – Marketing, Sales, Risk, Operations. Many different expectations of self-service are associated with this, sometimes leading to conflicts of interest. We solve this by basically delegating responsibility for a specific self-service to the department which is taking care of the customer during this stage.

The digital world of cashgate is dominated by the sales focus – that is why decisions often concentrate on customer experience optimisation, sometimes even at the expense of internal efficiency. Whenever possible, we try to maintain the principle of multi-optionality so that the customer can choose the right path on their own. 

Basically, in our industry designing self-services is a tightrope walk. We have to strike the right balance between self-service and protecting the customer from excessive indebtedness.

Selfservice als Sales-Generator am Beispiel des Kreditrechners
Selfservice als Sales-Generator am Beispiel des Kreditrechners

Seamless transitions along the customer journey

Could you give us an example of consequences this has for the designing of a self-service solution?

Take the loan calculator as an example. It allows the customer to use sliders and input fields to enter the term and amount of their loan. As a result, they receive information on their monthly loan instalment and on lending requirements.

In the customer journey, the loan calculator is not a sensible tool in all stages: in the inquiry stage, the digital credit seeker is usually not ready for a specific calculation. They wish to compare different types of financing first. The need to use the loan calculator would probably overwhelm them, so the calculator is only moderately advertised on product information pages. In the evaluation phase, when the user shows specific interest in a personal loan for example in their Google search, his demand becomes more specific. They are ready to make their decision – this is when the loan calculator is displayed. The customer is taken directly to a landing page, where the loan calculator is placed prominently at the top and invites the customer to use it.

One key success factor associated with self-service solutions is that they seamlessly take the customer to the next phase. This is our understanding of smart services. The passage from the loan calculator to loan application happens seamlessly. The customer does not need to compile data redundantly. The information they input in the loan calculator is taken directly from step 1 of the loan application, so that they can proceed straight to the second step, where they are required to provide their personal details. This is how the loan calculator is transformed from an information tool for the customer to a sales tool for us.

Here you can find Christine Reichardt's presentation slides (German only).