Good Customer Experience (CX) is always important, but perhaps never more so than during a time of crisis. As Todd Latham, Chief Growth Officer at Currencycloud, observes:
Any bank that says you needs to go in and you need to show them your passport and a utility bill right now isn't doing very well and isn't signing up very many new customers. Those people who've got it figured out have a massive advantage.
Currencycloud is a cross border payments company providing solutions to banks and financial services institutions around the world, enabling them to move money seamlessly between countries. Latham explains:
We’re an API-based service and our customers range from small start-ups, some fintechs you may know, Motorola through some of the largest names in the financial services space, like Visa. What we do is we enable our customers to provide digital experiences to their customers. Typically we sell to digitally-native firms, people who grew up in the digital era, or digital transforming firms, those who are transforming to be digital firms.
The thing that is really interesting about the last few months is the analog firms, the digital transformers, have always known they've had to catch up, but suddenly a chasm is open between those companies who are out there digitally-native already, and those who are truly trying to close that gap. Suddenly we're seeing a huge interest in digital solutions as more and more of business is conducted online.
The second thing that we see is that a lot of very large banks in our case, but also other large companies [in general] have realised just how quickly they can transform where they need to. We see stories of entire trading floors, which used to be totally ‘You have to be in the office at 6:30am until 8pm at night!’ and suddenly everyone's working from home and it's working. So you've got this really interesting convergence of digital and digitally-behind companies, knowing the gap [between them] has grown even larger, but also they know they can do it and that creates a really fascinating dynamic to the future.
The COVID-19 crisis has also seen what Latham calls “a widening out of the demographic of people who are buying digital services.”. This has CX implications, he explains:
If you look at digital services, whether that's digital banks, whether it's digital applications or online shopping, it has tended really to be focused towards younger demographics. That's changed really significantly, very quickly over the last few months. You've got the entire DNA of these digital first companies...age between 25 and say 45, who are typically well-educated, got money. We're suddenly seeing 65 year olds on fitness apps and they're saying, 'Well I don't want to hit the class, I want to have a class that is for somebody my age'. You've got people logging onto online shopping sites and suddenly using Amazon Fresh for the first time, and they're saying, 'It's bewildering, it's too much'.
One of the big changes you will see is the Digital Experience. Now that new generations have become immersed in the digital environment, they'll stay there and the digital companies that will be really successful will be those who are able to quickly cater and alter their offering to suit this demographic. And it comes through really understanding your customer and making sure that you can build that Customer Experience into your process and deciding not everyone's a one size fit all.
Understanding customer needs
For Currencycloud, the customer is already a major factor when designing services, says Latham:
We service B2B companies and actually the people who interact most with our product are developers. So we absolutely think about what the developer experiences, and then also what the ongoing customer experiences for that reason, because we're embedding our products into somebody else's products….Really getting to the root cause of what the customer is trying to do and deeply understanding the customer need is a critical part of that. Obviously the the cycle time is a little bit longer because if you're embedded in somebody else's product, you can't be making changes all the time. That said, we do release functionality out to the market, multiple times a week, if not multiple times a day, so we have a very high release cycle.
That's really important right now because the world is changing very quickly and we have to have that agility to make sure that we can provide a seamless customer experience. [Recently] the Bank of Philippines, due to volatility in the currency markets, stopped trading in the Filipino Peso for a day. We have to be able to respond to that, our product needs to be able to respond to that and our customers need to respond to that. So, the ability to release functionality out to the customer very quickly to help navigate that disruption to the Customer Experience really helps you win in a digital world. It's business as usual.
We're constantly enhancing the product. It can be anything from a UI change to an infrastructure change, speed of payments to responding to a changing requirement. We operate in 180 countries, so there's a huge amount of complexity that needs constantly implementing and integrating into the platform. So the ability to respond to that globally changing environment environment quickly is really critical to our success.
We spend a lot of time with our customers, understanding their customer requirements. It can be as diverse as a remittance payment from New York to Mexico City or it can be a Japanese company who needs to collect 100,000 US dollars from their customer in the US.
But we try and get down to, what are the critical features that are required to make that transaction successful and how do we then make sure that we've got the right level of infrastructure so our customer can provide the right customer experience at the end points? It's not data driven in our case; it's more qualitative. It's about really understanding them, peeling the onion and getting down to really what is the customer need. Data never gives you that. Data gives you an overlay, but never gives you the real richness of what's really important to the customer.