Barclaycard Goes Digital By Default

Barclaycard enhances its cross-channel digital customer experience to interact with existing customers and attract new ones.

In an increasingly online world, offering an extraordinary digital experience is no longer a differentiator for organizations; it's a question of survival.

For some organizations which do not have physical locations, investing in a cutting-edge digital experience is a necessity. This was a reality for Barclaycard as in 2009 it embarked on a plan to increase its market share in the United States, where it has no retail banking presence. Instead, the cards and payments provider, which serves more than 28 million customers and 89,000 merchants around the globe, needed to invest in its digital channels, on which it was relying for stateside business. According to Dave Goodman, Barclaycard's senior director of digital marketing, the bank's digital strategy was not as strong as it could be when he took over the company's digital arena four years ago. "I was given the task to make sure that digital had a significant contribution in the U.S.," he explains.

One of the challenges, Goodman says, was competing with financial entities like Bank of America, Citi Bank, and Chase, that had higher brand recognition in the U.S.. These companies also have a brick-and-mortar presence that makes them more accessible, but competitors were also leading on the digital front. In fact, while Barclaycard was growing its digital customers by 4 percent annually, other credit card issuers in the U.S. were seeing a 10 percent year-on-year growth. Goodman explains that following extensive internal discussions, the organization's business leaders agreed that the way forward was making sure the brand stood out because of its digital experience. "We wanted our products to be more digitally centered across all operations," he notes.

Such an endeavor can't be completed overnight and requires both planning and commitment from across the organization. Barclaycard's journey started in 2009 when the company partnered with West Monroe Partners to define its digital strategy and make it applicable to Barclaycard U.S.' business model that focuses heavily on co-branding through partnerships with some very renowned brands, including the NFL, Apple, and US Airways.

Looking back to move forward

In order to make improvements, organizations must understand the current situation and then determine where they need to go and also what is achievable. It is a mistake for organizations to set goals without properly understanding their current strengths and weaknesses, a process that allows them to reiterate successes and turn around failures.

Barclaycard was not going to make this misstep and Goodman notes that the first initiative was to take a deep look at how customers were being served digitally, including an analysis of the online banking experience. This inquiry revealed that the experience was dated and didn't have the features and functionalities today's customers expect from their banking partner. For example, the old site did not allow customers to request an online pin reset, and instead busy customers had no choice but to call the contact center, which is not only inconvenient for them, but also costly for organizations.

Armed with this insight, Barclaycard US embarked on a project to redesign its website. "We needed to give an optimized experience," Goodman notes. The first step, he explained, was to tackle the basic online experience and introduce the functionalities that today's customers not only appreciate, but also expect. "We wanted to make it more modern and innovative," he notes. Apart from introducing an online pin reset function, Barclaycard US built a sophisticated Q&A functionality, allowing customers to find the information they were looking for on the Website. This process helped the company avoid costly and inconvenient calls to the contact center.

The results were immediate. "We saw a decrease in contact center traffic," Goodman explains. This was imperative since the digital team needed to show ROI. While calls and complaints per customer went down, online activity increased, showing that clients were making the most out of the new self-serve capabilities, including online chat. "We wanted to give customers options to get service," Goodman says.

Another opportunity was the provision of paperless statements, which today's environmentally conscious customers expect. After all, many want to decrease the amount of physical mail delivered to their homes and instead prefer to get communications directly to their inbox. The bank used email and mobile channels to alert customers of the paperless statements and saw a 15 percent increase in signups.

A multichannel strategy cannot be complete without mobile integration. Barclaycard looked at how its customers were interacting with the brand and recognized that more than 50 percent was using their smartphones to open emails while another good portion was using mobile self-service options. Barclaycard US worked on building the mobile experience that customers expected, including easy-to-use native apps and mobile-optimized browsing. "We're seeing a faster than expected mobile adoption," Goodman says. In fact, around 11 percent of customers are using mobile to self-serve. Part of this success is due to the fact that the mobile experience allows customers to complete actions on their devices rather than have to go to their desktops, for example make a payment after receiving an alert that this is due the following day. "They don't need to leave their phones," he notes.

Having multiple channels can be a challenge if they don't offer a consistent experience. In order to avoid this, Barclaycard designed the different touchpoint experiences in tandem and the system allows customers to set their own communication preferences. For example, wanting to be notified when a set number of transactions happen on their bank card and over which channel.

A final part of the puzzle revolved around social media. "Social is the fabric of everything we do," Goodman notes. In fact, every product launch is showcased on the brand's social channels. "It's a way to amplify any experience, product, and strategy," he explains. It also allows the brand to extend its message, and customers are actively connecting with Barclaycard US on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

These changes are allowing Barclaycard US to use digital not only as a way to interact with customers, but also to attract new ones by underlining the brand's cutting-edge strategy through marketing outreaches that showcase Barclaycard US's strong digital presence. In fact, the strategy has been so successful that other regions within the banking organization are taking pointers from the U.S.