An Interview with Jin Kang Zwicky


OCBC Bank’s Vice President of Experience Design and Group Customer Experience speaks to FST Media about how banks can identify and design the most effective customer acquisition channel.

FST Media: What are your key priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

Kang Zwicky: Our customer experience design priorities are driven by our business strategy in OCBC Bank. Simplicity in the wealth management experience continues to be my priority for the next 12 to 18 months. With the emphasis on digital channel, defining the ‘personality’ of our advisory tools is an interesting challenge; an exceptional user experience design and harnessing our insight are the important pillars in building the personality of our digital wealth management.

FST Media: What is your view in how banks can enhance the overall customer experience through digital platform and data in the next five years?

Kang Zwicky: In order to enhance the overall customer experience, we focus on ‘information needs’ and ‘context’ of customers first. From there, banks can make the decision as to how to design the digital channel and how to integrate it with other channels. 

‘Being digital’ means making information accessible and relevant to the customers when they want it and how they want it, which often entails removing the notion of ‘channel’. When we do not think in “channel”, but in “information” and “context”, we can enhance the customer experience significantly through digital platform and data. Instead of turning paper bank statement into an e-statement, it can become a powerful real-time overview of holdings and a reminder about actions when we use our data and different digital channels as a system, based on the clear understanding of the type of information, and how the customer uses the information. 

FST Media: What are key trends in CX design that we can expect to see in the near future?

Kang Zwicky: I see three trends that I believe banks must embrace. Firstly, mobile-first design. Think mobile-first in terms of functionality and interface, then work out other channels. Secondly, simple is the new smart. Simpler apps stick, simpler apps thrive. Relentlessly simplify the content, service and interface. Thirdly, the beauty imperative to differentiate offering. Other industries are making this transition. Apple Watch is a great example of how the technology sector is embracing beauty and fashion in designing a product and its customer experience. I believe simplicity will be the hygiene factor that consumers naturally expect, and a beautiful customer experience will be the differentiator. 

FST Media: How will design help the bank deliver a new way of banking, especially for Generation Y?

Kang Zwicky: I am a firm believer of power of design in banking industry. To unleash the power of design, banks need to use design in two ways: Design as an innovation tool, and design as a manifestation of brand value. 

Using design as a tool refers to applying ‘user-centred design processes’. In OCBC we take the design process very seriously and we rigorously apply the right process for all customer-experience design initiatives. We get inspiration from direct consumer research, and we craft the insight into actionable ideas through prototyping and continuously testing. Last year when we set out to reposition FRANK by OCBC, we conducted direct research to understand young people’s concerns as they enter the workforce and their perceived impediments to the achievement of their financial goals. This resulted in strengthening FRANKs positioning which focused on the financial principles of save, spend, invest and protect, giving customers a sound grasp of these financial concepts and to equip them to make a informed decision. 

We then evolved these financial principles into bite-size concepts, and made the entry-level investment and insurance products simple and unintimidating. We used all layers of design (language, visual design, structure, interaction) to manifest our brand value of empowering Generation Y to living financially smart.

Design as the manifestation of brand value refers to the outcome of design. The way we design our store, website and apps embodies the intent of our brand value, which is then translated in a tangible form that appeals to our senses and emotions. Generation Y is very loyal to brands that they can relate to and they find meaning in. In this way, design can help banks to connect with Generation Y.

FST Media: What should be the design strategy in providing digital versus physical space experience for Generation Y banking as shown in FRANK by OCBC and how will you measure success?

Kang Zwicky: FRANK by OCBC, our design strategy for digital space, of is for consumers’ everyday life – they can save for their dream using our digital tool, spend well by getting deals which are relevant to them and protect themselves, while being adventurous and taking steps to grow their savings. As we crafting our brand personality digitally, we focus on story- telling: humanised content as well as an exceptional user interface. Our social media channels and soon-to-launched FRANK Blog (written by in-house team) are integral parts of manifesting our design strategy.

While digital space is imperative in designing Generation Y banking, a physical space allows opportunity to make a brand statement. Having a physical space, we can appeal to customers’ senses and create an impression of how we want our customers to feel about our brand. The more senses that are involved in the experience, the more likely it is that people will remember. A physical space can also become a valuable platform in connecting people and in enabling deeper conversations. Recently launched, ‘FRANKly Speaking’ sessions take place in FRANK stores. These are designed to connect our Generation Y consumers with mentors on topics that they are interested in. By harnessing physical space and connecting people, we can deepen the conversation with our consumers. 

Our award-winning design team within OCBC drives this cross-channel design strategy, and execute with this big picture in mind. 

FST Media: How can banks identify and design the most effective customer acquisition channel?

Kang Zwicky: I see every channel as a valuable opportunity to build relationships and acquire customers. One single channel alone will not do the job. The whole eco-system consisting of each touch point as a whole (such as app, branches and letters) is the brand ambassador. When this system is designed with a consistently clear intent to do the right thing, then this will encourage our customers to do more business with us. Those customers can then become advocates who may well recommend us to their network, thus enabling us to acquire the right customers – i.e. improving the customer experience is the way to acquire customers easily and organically. 

FST Media: What is the most inspiring career advice you have ever received?

Kang Zwicky:  “Go with passion, not what is hot in the business. That passion takes care of the rest. It will bring you where you want to be.” 

This advice was given by my mentor who brought me to financial services as a designer. It reminds me to stay passionate with my belief that design can change financial services.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for, what is yours?

Kang Zwicky: I wish to be remembered as someone who made design a strategically important agenda in financial services, and a leader who demonstrated how banking can be more successful for the business by being simpler and more attractive for customers.