Barclays CRM team designs banking experiences at scale with Salesforce

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan October 3, 2018
Barclays needed to rethink the way it delivered systems to support great customer experiences.

Over 325 years old, Barclays has a proud history of innovation in the UK, including delivering the first ATM in 1966 and the first credit card in 1967. Now in 2018, innovation and transformation are critical themes for the banking institution as it operates in an increasingly competitive digital economy.

Kevin Heggie, Head of CRM Capabilities & Strategy at Barclays, explains the scale of the challenge the bank faces:

Barclays UK represents 24 million customers and clients, and that’s split across three core statements - all retail banking, the Premier Experience which is customers with incomes above £100k and assets in that kind of region, and in the business space, we also support the business community.

Those three or four million customers and clients operate across our physical channels, - the branch network, virtual, in terms of our call centres and then obviously, in the last 15, 20 years, we've seen a huge growth in our digital footprint. And underpinning Barclays UK is this vision statement which is trying to deliver this personalized and perfect experience for our customers, delivered by passionate colleagues.

The way Barclays approaches CRM has evolved, adds John Howarth, Head of the bank’s CRM Center of Excellence:

It’s tends [to go] from one extreme or the other. Technology has either led the work streams and we’ve had challenges with adoption because it had been somewhat detached from the individual [business] segments. Or, we’ve seen the other extreme, where the segments have led the work streams. The problem with that is, that we don't necessarily have the rigour, we don't have the detailed requirements, and that's been a challenge. The fact that is has been either/or is really quite difficult.

The problem here is that either of these approaches leads to the same common problems - long-running, multi-year projects that start with strong momentum and good intentions, but get to year two and beyond and run into challenges when not much progress has been made. This can lead to an end state where the result is delivery of substandard outcomes. Business requirements have moved on, strategic thinking has evolved, and you're left with a solution that really is no longer for the purpose.

Something had to change at Barclays and the first step in that was to create a new central CRM function, says Howarth:

Rather than having CRM on the periphery as a detached work stream, this was all about putting CRM at the heart of everything we do.

With the new pan-segment team structure in place, an important recognition was one of limitations, says Heggie:

If we try to deliver everything at one time, we're just going to fall back into the same problems, the same cycles of long-running projects. If our scope is too broad, those times will start to creep in. So the next step was really just to drill down on some really key, critical objectives, that align with the viewpoint and the vision statement around delivering these brilliant and world class customer and colleague experiences.

We worked with the Premier Banking segment as our lead beacon team, who we would work with to support their goals. The Premier team and the Premier segment are looking to double the customer base, continuing to build and improve upon the relationships that they have with our customers, but with the key constraint that we didn't want to grow the workforce. So, really, it required a different way of thinking.

Enter Salesforce

The bank turned to Salesforce Success Cloud for assistance in creating a new methodology to drive the necessary cultural change. This was broken down into three phases - firstly spending time with staff to understand what they were doing, what needed to change and where their pain points were; secondly, the ideation of what the new experiences should be to drive a change in behaviours and delivery; finally. the third phase was to bring that together with new prototypes, testing to validate them, with end users involved very early on in the process.

This sort of feedback-sourcing is something that Barclays has done before, says Heggie, but it was different this time with Salesforce’s involvement:

We really put a lot more effort and energy into really spending time with our users and to really observe them, in the real world, talk to them, get really candid feedback. It was so essential to everything that we did that we didn't get the sanitised viewpoint that we’d often get. To do it ourselves, there would be that fear of the colleague feeling that they couldn't quite as open as they could be with an independent, more external interviewee.

Some of the insights were stark. One interviewee, a staffer with 20 years under his belt at the bank, said bluntly that if systems didn’t improve, he was ready to leave. As Howarth observes:

That's a hell of a lot of experience there to lose, if we're not treating the colleague in the right way, and focusing on them, and giving them the right tools to succeed. Clearly as a wide organization, that's got massive impact if you've got that attrition.

One of the biggest complaints to emerge was that to have an understanding of a customer, Barclays employees would have to look in multiple systems. That could be as many as 40, suggests Heggie:

Colleagues may not always have access to all the same systems. So you've got some colleagues over in the call center who have got access to maybe 20, 30 different screens or systems that they can access, [but the] branch network is different, and that just leads to a really difficult position. This just points towards that viewpoint that we knew we had to address, which is Customer 360 with our Barclays colleagues being able to access that with a great UX developed by Salesforce.

Moving towards delivery, the next step involved taking all the gathered knowledge and turning it into an ‘outbound storyboard’. This was essentially a comic strip book that was published for execs to read. Howarth recalls:

There's no way that they were going read a long list of requirements in a boring example. We had to bring it to life for people and this is how we chose to do it. The story is very compelling. The fact that these execs could read it on their commute home, in bed, wherever it was, actually [meant] they were nearly guaranteed to read it. We had great feedback from them.

A secondary benefit of this format was that as well as updating execs regularly, the same materials could be used to communicate to those staff who’d been involved in the research phase. This created a strong sense of employee engagement as they weren’t just asked for their views and then dropped out of the process.


The next step was to build a tangible, physical prototype, something that could be put in front of people at internal demos. Barclays has a User Experience lab into which it has typically invited external stakeholders when it’s planned to roll out new features in mobile or online banking, for example. This time the decision was made to bring internal colleagues in an get their feedback to iterate the prototype in real-time. Heggie notes:

It’s just a great example of the difference in attitude and the approach that we were taking. Going back historically, you'd be thinking, that kinda of feedback, that will take a few weeks to go through the cycle, before we can then present it back to users.

If we would've taken the traditional approach, six to nine months, the first part of the year, would've been spent requirement gathering, probably asking the wrong question. So rather than asking, which we did traditionally, ‘What do you want? What are your requirements?’, we reframed the questions as, ‘What are you trying to achieve and how can we help you?’.

There were also some additional benefits for the Barclays team during the ten week process of knowledge gathering and prototyping, says Heggie:

We acquired new thinking, new skills, and about how to approach and frame problem statements, how to think about how we overcome these challenges, just from a human-centered design perspective. Now we're taking those new skills, and as we move forward in the year and into 2019, we're continuing to put those skills into play, and looking, wherever possible, to copy and refine our playbooks. So we really are just continuing to optimize the way we usually work. It's all about acceleration, transformation, and being visionary. We really needed to set some kind of moonshot-style goals and really push the boundaries of what we wanted to do.

What also emerged from this process was a new set of guiding principles, he adds:

Some were like, we have to be challenging to our user base. When they weren't telling us what they were trying to do, and they were falling back on their old way of, ‘You just need to give me lots of data, and I'll figure it out’, we're challenging that, saying, ‘Actually, what are you trying to do here? What really is your goal?’. If it’s to have great customer experiences and to deliver great customer outcomes, we can potentially look at this in a different way. Which means that actually, we're giving you less data, but the data we're giving you is the right data at the right time in a great user experience.

From the point of view of the Barclays team, the work to date on this transformation program has brought about its own changes. Heggie observes:

As a group, we're quite a small team in the organization, but very much empowered. We’ve got great sponsors. We actually sit within the digital part of the organization. We actually have a strong, digital DNA in our blood. And it's definitely helping on the collaborative culture that we're trying to adopt, not only with Salesforce, but also with our internal partners, and really striking a transformation change.

As for the future, 2019 is going to be about optimizing the way that Barclays manages change, he concludes:

We see two big areas in the colleague user experience space. One is the growth of users, so Premier is gonna be a great starting point, a great foundation for us to start driving business value. But we've got the other segments we need to think about, so that is one of the big priorities - how do we get this great capability we’ve built into the hands of as many people as possible.

And then the other side, the other balance that we're working through, is also functionality. So, aligned with the roadmaps that are coming out from Salesforce, what are we dropping on a regular basis? How do we balance requirements potentially that might be specific to segments versus requirements that cover multiple colleague groups. That's what is going to be a big focus of the remainder of the year, so that we really set ourselves up for success in 2019, and start landing greater and greater capabilities, with more and more colleagues.