How Nationwide uses Low-code BPM to stay ahead

Add bookmark

Nigel Warren

Nationwide is consistently ranked top for customer satisfaction in the UK. In this interview with Ian Thompson, Head of Customer Operations at Nationwide, you’ll find out how they maintain their process agility advantage to keep customer service excellence at the top of their agenda, while at the same time improving efficiency and reducing costs. Find out more details here.

"Staying No. 1 for customer service is tremendously important. We have an absolute passion for the customer; it’s baked into our DNA. But it takes more than attitude. It requires excellent processes and IT as well."

It’s widely acknowledged that organizations need two separate, yet coherent modes for process and technology improvement. One is focused on steady and predictable improvement and the other on innovation where requirements can often be ambiguous.
Mode 1 is traditional and sequential, emphasizing safety and accuracy. That works well for back office processes, where changes to systems of record like SAP can be planned long in advance. Mode 2 is more experimental, emphasizing agility and speed. That works well for innovation and systems of engagement – i.e. the systems and processes with which you win, serve and retain customers.

Focus through Devolution

Many organizations are devolving their process and technology improvement resources into specialized teams, so that they can work at the pace that their area of the business requires. Different teams are likely to favor different methodologies and potentially use different tools. More agile approaches like "lean startup" are commonly adopted in areas like digital transformation, innovation, mobility and customer service. Teams that are focused on systems of record, are more likely to retain more traditional improvement methodologies like lean / six sigma.

Nationwide – Making Bimodal Work

Nationwide Building Society is one such organization that has adopted this kind of bimodal approach with significant success. They have been independently ranked first for customer service when compared to their high street peers for the last three years, and they’re winning market share as a result.
According to Ian Thompson, Nationwide’s Head of Customer Operations, they have an unrelenting focus on customer service.

Ian goes on to explain in the interview, that at Nationwide’s IT systems falls into two categories: (1) The big heavy lifting back office systems such as managing bank accounts and calculating interest; and (2) Agile, customer facing support systems, that improve customer engagement and streamline interactions like account opening, inquiries and keeping customers informed of what’s happening on their behalf.

Avoiding the IT Queue

A key reason that Nationwide is succeeding with rapid and agile improvements to customer facing processes and supporting technology, is the formation several years ago of a dedicated customer operations business improvement team that are 100% focused on process improvements and innovations that benefit customers.
When improvement requirements are identified, rather than passing them into a centrally controlled IT work queue, where a wide range of projects compete for priority; customer orientated projects remain with the customer operations team. This way they can be prioritized without getting lost in the mix of a wider set of IT priorities. That said, there’s still a requirement for oversight to ensure the overall enterprise architecture stays on track.

How Low-code helps "Mode 2"

In the video, Alasdair Paterson, Editor of Fintech Finance also interviews Martin Scovell, CEO of MatsSoft and Richard Billington, MatsSoft’s CTO. The discussion highlights how low-code BPM technology really comes into its own when improving customer facing processes, and also why a low-code approach to BPM is so well suited to the agile side of the bimodal divide described above.
Martin shares some startling return on investment figures that show how quite simple processes that keep customers automatically informed of progress can easily prevent multiple phone calls. For example, savings of up to £25 per mortgage application are commonplace. And the same approach can be applied to all manner of customer case management situations – for example applying for a mortgage, opening an account, equipment repairs and delivery scheduling.

Why this matters – "The Age of the Customer"

Forrester tells us we are in the Age of the Customer where social tools, price comparison sites and ubiquitous access to product information give customers unprecedented power over suppliers.
Succeeding in the Age of the Customer is about becoming customer obsessed, and keeping up with rapidly changing customer demands and expectations. Mode 1 methodologies and traditional enterprise tech just aren’t agile enough to keep up.
Enter the Low-code revolution: visual drag and drop platforms delivered via the cloud that allow business and process experts to quickly design and deploy the workflow and customer facing apps they need - without waiting for programmers.
Low-code supports a "test and learn" culture, making it easy to experiment with new customer-facing apps and processes, and change tack quickly if the initial results aren’t great.

What could you do with Low-code?

Nationwide’s customer service success isn’t an isolated case. Organizations that are transparent about service case progress, and innovate with their customer service apps and processes typically achieve higher Net Promoter Scores than their competitors.
Nationwide is now using MATS to power over 30 different processes and applications. But there are of course places where low-code is more useful than others. If you’re not sure where it would best be put to use, ask yourself:
  • Do we have any process automation requests that have been stuck for months in the IT queue?
  • Are any business units currently lagging behind customer expectations/market trends?
  • Are you or colleagues inventing manual workarounds and Excel "kludges" that compensate for broken processes that no one has time to fix?
  • Has presumed cost and complexity prevented a host of process improvement suggestions being acted upon?
If you’re answering "yes" to any of these, it’s time to start looking at what low-code could do for you.
For an independent perspective on how Low-code Development Platforms compare to traditional BPM Suites, watch the video interview with Clay Richardson, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.