Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank - Studio B
Head of Innovation at CYB
In 2016, CYBG launched its award winning B brand and proposition – a new way to imagine banking, and a digital service with customers truly at its heart. B doesn’t think like a bank, act like a bank or look like a bank. And after a successful first year of life, CYBG decided to bring B to the high street and in April 2017 opened the doors of a radical new space in Kensington, London.
Studio B marks a major departure from traditional ways of banking, bringing together an open innovation lab, a digitally led branch and events space into one exciting, engaging environment. It’s the first bank in the world to put an innovation lab into a branch and invite customers to walk in. The concept has caught the attention of customers, banks and global businesses – with visitors from afar afield as Australia, Singapore, Mexico and Canada wowed by the location.
The result is a completely open and transparent approach to designing the future of the bank. A space that is open to experimentation in everything from customer proposition design and communication approaches, to physical design and banking processes. The doors are always open, customers regularly pop in to share their frustrations, input their ideas and vote on the best outcomes. For customers who can’t visit in person, Studio B has an active web presence, publishing concepts quickly to invite customer engagement and feedback. The belief at the heart of Studio B is that through experimentation and direct customer engagement, we can more quickly shape the future of banking than by hiding away in fear that our concepts will be copied.
What was the in-market status quo before the proposition was created?
Banking has traditionally been designed by bankers not people or designers. With an in branch experience usually designed to get people in and out of a location as quickly as possible.
With Studio B we aim to change that and put the fun back into banking. For customers wanting a quick and functional transaction, a range of self service innovations and a new approach to customer service within our branch team help to meet that need quickly and effectively. For customers more keen to explore, a range of digital and physical services have been put into Studio B to create a fun environment that still adds value through experimentation. From testing early concepts for B on the Amazon Alexa service, through to a tangible table with a B and Atari game purely to entertain.
What challenges were you facing as a business?
The CYBG customer base is slightly older and concentrated in the north of England and Scotland. The launch of the B brand has helped to position CYBG as an attractive bank and brands for younger, more digitally savvy customers, but awareness of B in London remains low, and perception of CYBG as a bank is outdated.
The primary business purpose for Studio B was to challenge the perceptions of the business from investors, the media and customers, and create an inspiring hub to challenge CYBG.
It was decided early on that the best way to challenge the perceptions of the business was to launch somewhere unexpected, and deliver a concept that truly puts customers at the heart of the business. Studio B is our response to that.
What impact has the proposition had?
- Studio B performance is being tracked through a combination of hard and soft metrics, some of which (e.g. footfall, ideas generated) are leading edge in the network – such as using facial detection to monitor customer emotion
- A successful press launch led to Studio B being seen by a potential audience of 560 million and a total social reach of over 9 million
- The Studio B events programme has seen a regular flow of potential customers; over 400 unique guests have attended so far. One speaker at an event, Lukas Zörner of Mespo which helps people manage their bills more efficiently), is on track to become a ‘live’ partner by March 2018 with his service integrated into B
- Brand awareness has doubled for B in London. Over half surveyed said it made them feel more favourable about the B brand. As one visitor remarked “I really like the experience here now. Especially the coffee, it’s a very human approach to banking.”
- All of CYBG’s main institutional investors have visited Studio B, responding favourably with how forward thinking the space is, and how exciting the concepts being developed are for CYBG and banking in general
- Other partners such as the Singapore Design Council been in to discuss potential global fintech partnerships. With visits from less obvious brands such as Versace and Diesel, who see Studio B as a prime example of delivering connected retail experiences
- Gardner, Forrester and Mintel all visited and updated their clients on the step change delivered by Studio B
- Almost every major UK bank has visited the space, plus a number of international ones including ING, with a number of other banks now offering customer events and talks in their spaces
- A total of 28 ideas have been generated with 10 progressing to the research voting site and five being explored for potential launch. The first to be piloted in market is the Greenhouse small business sprint service which will be on October 26th
- Concepts tested in Studio B are also heading to market - for example a banking skill for Amazon Alexa, and aggregation service for B and an energy switching service are all moving to live
- The technology and interior design are expanding – with many of the successful design and service experiments, scaled to a new location in Birmingham and to follow to other flagship stores throughout 2018
- The décor is also potentially award winning. Shortlist nominations include a retail award and a Scottish Design Award for the tangible table game at the back of the space.
What approach did you take when creating the new proposition?
The start point for Studio B was a 20 day design sprint – going from a deep understanding of the business and customer needs, to a range of opportunity territories to be shared and shaped with senior stakeholders and culminating in a single vision that the leadership team of the bank bought into. It involved external to bank design thinkers as well as internal SMEs.
After the core concept for Studio B “the next generation of banking designed by the next generation of customers” had been reached, with the key concepts detailed, we moved to a phase of visualizing the space using a next to bank design agency who specialize in Retail and restaurants – places customers enjoy spending time. This method enabled the overarching vision to be detailed and visualized, whilst a detailed understanding of the costs and timeline to deliver was created. The end point being a game changing concept, delivered on time (within 6 months), on budget and delivering an experience that wows customers, investors, competitors and CYBG.
What challenges did you overcome?
For any new innovation huge numbers of problems are encountered. From the approach to the running the lab (who, are), designing bespoke furniture, designing, build and testing new technology, identifying a source for our “Labbers” who work in the lab. The effort has been rewarded with a unique space, that has a truly experimental culture and is truly driving change within CYBG – in everything from digital innovation to process changes and the design of our carpets. With the customer always first.
What advice would you give to other corporate entrepreneurs?
The biggest momentum builder for Studio B was the visualization of the space in a way that could inspire the internal stakeholders. Every problem could be overcome with such overwhelming support for the overall vision. Its an approach that has been carried through into The Lab concepts coming from Studio B – with the visualization of concepts – whether as adcepts or wireframes – the key to winning the hearts and minds of customers and the bank.
What was your project highlight?
Definitely the design of the tangible table. Despite all the challenges and stress to deliver such a game changing concept to market, on time and in budget, the first opportunity to use the “B blocks” to control a pin ball themed game was magical. It isn’t everyday you get that kind of opportunity in the bank –the freedom to be that creative. The outputs have been worth it. During the opening week I witnessed board members of CYBG actively challenging each other to the highest score on the table with huge smiles on their faces as they actively enjoyed being in a bank!
Who are your project heroes?
To deliver truly game changing innovation, I think it’s important for the area that instigates the concept, and feels most passion for the delivery of the concept to stay directly involved. As a consequence, I took the helm as ‘Product Owner’ but it was the visual designers that made the space such a success. Everytime they hit an issue, through materials, planning permission, costs, testing, they consistently came back with redesigns and concepts that solved the problem and stayed true to vision and spirit of the location. I’m certain being a hands on Product Owner also helped!