Helping a bank migrate customers from offline to online

I was part of a team that helped an international bank shape a strategy to migrate their in-branch customers to digital channels.

Over a 2 weeks period we conducted rounds of user research to identify the barriers to digital adoption.
We then run four one week sprints to design, build and test different solution addressing the many obstacle that stopped millions of customers from using digital banking.

My role

User observation
User testing

Type of project

Service design sprint

The problem

Our client had more digital channels than any competitor, but millions of its customers were still doing all or most of their banking offline.

We started by looking at the extensive research the bank had conducted over the years. This provided us with a good understanding of where the user encountered the most friction.

Created with Sketch. No digital use In-branch self-service Registration to online banking First use of online banking Checking statements & balances online Moving money between accounts online Payments to people online Setting Automated payments Digital account servicing Our focus Friction to online baning
Our research

Understanding the emotional aspects of online banking

The existing insight on customer behaviour and the barriers to digital adoption provided by the clients were a good start but what was missing was a clear understanding of the emotional elements that stopped people from adopting digital banking. With our research we set ourself three goals:


Identify the causes of low digital engagement.


Identify which customer had the more potential for digital engagement.


Design solutions for encouraging digital migration, and validate them through testing with customers.

We conducted one-on-one interviews with people from different customer segments to uncover their fears and habits when it comes to banking.

We also interviewed the branches’ staff to understand how their interactions could impact the migration of the customers to digital channels.

Finally we performed several in-branch observations. These helped us understand how the different branches' layout can impact the customers interaction with the staff and self service kiosks.

The 6 barriers to digital adoption

We mapped and grouped all the insights from our research into 6 barriers to online banking. These barrier became the basis for our design sprints.

Solution #1: onboarding

A stickier, more effective onboarding experience

Onboarding can make the difference between digital dropouts and regular users. An effective onboarding experience can prevent people dropping out of digital usage because of a confusing first use. It can also be used to re-engage customers who have stopped using digital after bad earlier experiences.

Lead the customer

Instead of jumping into a tour we wanted to lead the customers into the onboarding. On a first login a modal would be shown with a list of things the customer can achieve on their online account.
Because users are more likely to complete a list if one or more elements are checked, the passcode creation, which the user sets up on signup, was the first element in the list to be marked as done.

Do what’s important first

10% of the customer base goes in branch to check balances. Why not start from there? Adress main customer painpoints upfront in the onboarding.

Teach by doing

Instead of showing customers features through static screens, onboarding should get the customer to use the actual interfaces as much as possible. This is beacuse people are more likely to remember something if they have done it already. This is why we used interactive tooltips throughout the onboarding flow, prompting the customer to perform different tasks along the way.


Increase in NPS after testing


Of customers thought online banking
was easy/very easy after testing

Solution #2: security

A frictionless security check

Registration, login and security-code generators usage are the highest friction points of the customer experience, putting customers off digital channels. We started testing alternate, more usable security processes than the one currently used by the bank to find the balance between security and convenience.

Using CVV and security questions for verification

Giving their CVV is familiar to many customers from online shopping. Security questions feel secure to customers and are more convenient than using automated code generators.


Increase in NPS after testing


Of customers thought online banking
was easy/very easy after testing

Solution #3: communication

Cross-channel communications

We started thinking about how we could use existing communication channels to nudge customers towards digital. We designed modular emails, so different nudges and calls to action could be swapped in and out to see what is most effective for each customer.

Redirect offline customers

One of the ideas we tested was to send customers a digital confirmation of offline banking activities. The goal was to show the customer that online banking can do for them what they normally do offline.

A personal touch

Looking at our research we realised that one of the things that really makes people go back to branches is the interaction with local staff. One of the modules we designed prompted the customer to book an appointment with one of the staff of the branch the customer goes to. Again our purpose was to use digital channels to bridge the gap between the offline and online experience.


Increase in NPS after testing


Of customers thought online banking
was easy/very easy after testing

Created with Sketch.

Thanks for watching

This is a summary of a very long project, our research uncovered tons of interesting and odd customer banking behaviors. We also prototyped loads of cool ideas that didn't make it to this page. If this page sparked your curiosity, drop me a line, I'd love to bore you with all the details :)