Rolling out enhanced customer experiences worldwide - learnings from banking giant HSBC

Profile picture for user slauchlan By Stuart Lauchlan June 11, 2020
Learnings from and future directions for HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking as it builds out its Pega global deployment to bolster the CX offered to clients.


With current conditions with COVID, a lot of our customers are facing financial hardship for a variety of different reasons. The personalization of [automation] capabilities and the ability to do this at pace within a certain cost envelope is extremely important for us as a global bank.

So says Deepak Janakiraman, Global Head of Communications Hub Platform, at HSBC Wealth and Personal Banking, an arm of HSBC with a mission to help customers take care of their day-to-day finances, while also helping them protect and grow their wealth.

The Communications Hub team is responsible for helping enable markets with key multi-channel personalization capabilities to better serve customers. According to Janakiraman:

We do so across a range of customer propositions, starting with personal banking and moving to serve our higher net worth clients under the global private banking business. Most of these services are delivered under the HSBC brand, but we also have a few other affiliate brands.

Back in 2017, HSBC made a strategic decision to use Pega across the entirety of its retail banking and wealth management customer base following an initial deployment in Australia, he recalls:

Over the last three-and-a-half years, we've scaled those deployments to 13 other markets across the world. Most of our efforts in the earlier years were focused on channel integration into web email, SMS and most recently over the mobile channel, but I'd say through those years we've also increased the sophistication of the experiences we deliver to our customers.

All of this has delivered an over 100% gain on certain key metrics around open rates ,click through rates, conversion rates, as well as top line revenue per contact. This has been achieved primarily by building out a global framework within Pega, a process which has thrown up some critical key learnings, says Janakiraman.

(1) Productize before you think about scale:

When we initially started, I'd say the first one or two markets, there was quite a steep learning curve. As we got to market number three, number four, we felt like we were repeating a lot of the tasks. We spent a lot of time thinking about how we take a step back and build out a global framework for scaling…Definitely consider productizing your offering before you scale to more markets.

(2) Start simple

This oftentimes a lot of organizations get tripped up on. As you talk to stakeholders, there tends to be a bias to have feature parity over existing vendors. I'd say keep it simple and have a clear plan of how you're going to run up the messages. So you produce return-to-value and that's where it works really well for us.

(3) It's about business transformation and technology transformation

I would argue that technology transformation is actually pretty well understood. Business transformation I'd say is the hard part because it involves changing the mindset and culture of of teams, which takes much longer. So I'd advise on starting your business transformation ahead of driving some of the technology changes that you need to cut into into your organization. 

(4) Building a team 

In hindsight, I would have loved to have started building permanent teams a little bit earlier. We relied quite heavily on contractors in the early years, and I'd say, focus, if you can, on permanent teams and complement those with contractors, so you retain that knowledge within the organization as you ramp up capabilities across markets.

(5) Share best practices

As a Center of Excellence team, for us as a global bank, we have to focus quite heavily on sharing best practice and knowledge. We found the Center of Excellence teams to be a great approach to actually sharing best practice and knowledge, and, more importantly I'd say, empower these teams. They can do wonders for you as long as they are empowered and so that's always a good setup if you're thinking about scope and scaling these capabilities globally.

(6) Evangelize!

You can never do enough of it. Speak a lot about value to the various stakeholders and teams around the organization. One of the areas we found out within HSBC that's worked quite well is you could have internal markets actually do quite a lot of the selling for you. If your organization has a construct with global and local teams, I definitely advise using internal markets to scale some of these capabilities.

The future

Looking ahead, there are three key focus areas for the rest of 2020 and going into 2021, says Janakiraman:

The first is around delivering a personal and relevant HSBC experience. We are a global bank with a very international customer base, so we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can maintain consistency of brand and experience across across various customer touch points. So, for the rest of this year we're focused quite heavily on motor reuse. We're also focused quite heavily on leveraging the machine learning capabilities out of the box with Pega, but also complementing those with the models that we run internally on the cloud.

The second and third themes are more focused on scalability and efficiency as well as reducing total cost of ownership. One of the key challenges we've faced is demising or depreciating older technologies and reducing complexity, as we onboard Pega capabilities into the market. What we're heavily focused on over the next 18 months is how we can accelerate some of the depreciation of older technologies, but also drive automation if testing were possible, so we can continue to reduce the time-to-value as we enable some of these capabilities to markets.