SITUATION

With one in two New Zealanders an ANZ customer, the bank realised it could lift its performance in the first-home buyer market by better understanding these customers' needs – and targeting those areas where can make a difference. The first-home buyer segment is considered crucial because it is often the start of a lasting relationship with a financial institution, confirms ANZ Head of Mortgages Glenn Stevenson. “With the market beginning to change for these customers and more first-home buyers considering a purchase with house price growth slowing at the time and government stimulus programmes, we wanted to be more supportive and see how we could do more to help take the right steps into a first home.”

Stevenson admits that the bank wasn’t ‘crystal clear on the problem’. “This was one of the first insights we got from the engagement: first-home buyers don’t know a lot about the process and journey to home ownership. We tend to take a bank-centric view where the wider dynamic isn’t clear beyond ‘you’ve found a property and need a loan’. It was this wider dynamic that we sought to understand, so we’d be in a position to appreciate the specific areas where we can play more of a role.”

SOLUTION

In a world where the words ‘customer delight’ are routinely encountered, Stevenson takes a more measured view. “It’s not necessarily the creation of ‘customer delight’ that matters. In the first instance, it is more about understanding the whitespace between what customers want from you and where you stand in meeting those expectations. This is often where the game is won or lost,” he explains.

Assurity started with a simple question: How might we help more first-time buyers own their own home? It then set out to understand how to support first-time buyers by exploring customer needs and the impact of market forces on their ability to purchase.

During the project, Assurity worked closely with a dedicated team from the bank and 23 existing and potential customers. Moving through three Design Cycles, investigating customer needs, conceptualising solutions and exploring their viability and feasibility. This goes to the heart of Assurity’s human-centric approach. As part of the project, Assurity identified four customer personas and an examination of the demographics, needs, emotional drivers and goals of each one.

The iterative cycles started with an Investigation, considering the needs of future home owners, what home ownership means to them, the key influencers on the journey and the impact of market forces.

The Design Cycle provided the opportunity to gain deeper insight and build confidence in ideas, working on prioritised areas from the Investigation Cycle.

Finally, the Design and Integration Cycle extended the home ownership journey into the settlement experience and sought to understand the feasibility of prototyped and tested concepts to set up for delivery.

RESULTS

While there are material benefits from the work Assurity completed for ANZ, including changes in the approach taken by frontline staff to first-home buyers, Stevenson says the greatest advantage is a shift in ANZ’s thinking. “They’ve taught us how to fish.”

The bank, he says, is enthused about the concept of human-centred design. “This is a great framework for understanding customers and developing solutions in real time that we can iterate, take forward and deliver. We’re taking the approach into the organisation and will now ourselves teach more people how to apply it. And it’s full credit to Assurity that we can now do that without necessarily needing external consultants.”

He adds that it was something of a thrill for the bank to get in front of real customers and ask questions directly. “This was the highlight of the process. Engaging face-to-face, one-on-one, understanding some of the issues and asking questions directly has delivered the ability to prototype, refine and create solutions with immediate feedback.”

The approach far exceeds the traditional methods applied in large organisations, which often instead rely on market research, Stevenson notes.

Other outcomes include introducing new and amending existing customer-facing information, on the web and in ‘brochureware’ provided to customers. “That’s showed benefits early on, but there are other measures coming down the track which require further investment. But what’s certain is that this engagement has given us a plan and there is more to come”.

This is a great framework for understanding customers and developing solutions in real time that we can iterate, take forward and deliver. We’re taking the approach into the organisation and will now ourselves teach more people how to apply it”

Glenn Stevenson, Head of Mortgages, ANZ