The benefits of a bottom-up service design approach

How often do you find yourself or your team members tied up in essential but repetitious tasks? Are responsibilities such as collecting and processing data, generating periodic reports, coordinating with multiple business functions, managing workflows, etc., weighing you down? Do you feel exasperated?  Do you think a more efficient process can enhance the experience, for both your employees and end-clients alike?

You are not alone. Staying on-top of routine tasks is becoming a problem for everyone, be it an individual leader or an organization. As competitive pressures, regulatory scrutiny, market uncertainties, and evolving client needs test how investment management firms run their business, not having the time to focus on these issues has the potential to jeopardize a firm’s sustainability and growth. In such a scenario, organizations need to re-think how well they are servicing their clients, and what they need to continue attracting them.

Is service design the solution?

Totally discarding and re-thinking a routine can act as an opportunity for firms to make themselves agile and responsive. The best way to do so is by leveraging ‘service design’ as a differentiating element to bring scale and efficiencies to asset and wealth managers.

A well implemented service design engagement can lead to several potential benefits, including

  • 20-30% cost savings driven by process improvement and automation / technology initiatives
  • 30-40% reduction in manual effort involved in recurring tasks
  • Freeing-up of core teams’ bandwidth to focus on value-added tasks
  • Adoption of digital platforms for knowledge management and centralized data processing

But how is service design defined? Simply put, service design is a collaborative reimagining of business processes and operational models in this digital and analytics era, with an intent to create optimal service experiences. Any successful service design initiative considers the following elements:

  • Business context: It should begin with an evaluation of functions and processes, and their impact on other functions as well as clients (both direct and indirect). The focus should be on current process flow, key pain points and their impact on service users, use of technology, ideal KPIs, and compliance checks needed to ensure optimal services.
  • Experience design: A comprehensive service design approach must incorporate a last mile focus. It is imperative to identify the user experience a firm wants to deliver, and consider a 360 degree view of clients. Ease of interaction, extent of intuitively that can be enabled, and the right level of service are key considerations for user experience design. Internal workflow tools and processes should be streamlined and synced to achieve the targeted outcomes.
  • Process acceleration: Technological enhancements should be considered to both innovate and optimize delivery. Identification of repetitive and low complexity tasks that can be automated for efficiency, centralization of content and data, and use of analytics to enhance insights will make the solution / design self-sufficient and future proof.


Seeing service design in action

Perhaps the concept would be better explained through one of our recent engagements. A leading wealth management firm, which regularly provides its approximately 15K financial advisors with market data and other content to fuel client interactions, contacted us. It sought help to overhaul its daily publication portfolio by optimizing its production process, designing content that resonated with advisors and investors and developing a sound content and distribution strategy.

We began the project by creating a service blueprint. Thereafter, our team of process consultants co-designed a new operating model using automation, collaboration tools, and offshoring framework; the aim was to remove all existing bottlenecks. We also developed a custom authoring tool for the client’s analyst team. We overhauled the underlying content to make it more meaningful and relevant for the readers. Last but not the least, we presented the client with a roadmap to enhance medium-term distribution strategy by leveraging alternative mediums (podcasts, social media, etc.) and a long-term transition to digitize content.

Here is the implementation framework of the custom authoring tool.

The optimized and redesigned publication portfolio helped the client save >1,000 man hours/year; plan change management to minimize disruption & maximize adoption; and continue digitalization to enhance the effectiveness of ongoing and new initiatives.

Bottom-up approach to service design success

A surefire approach to effective service design is starting small with a focus on tactical initiatives that deliver immediate impact. The aim should be to quickly scale up to associated business functions that have a direct or indirect impact on client interactions.

A bottom-up approach multiplies success potential by enabling focus on ground-level issues, and delivering tangible benefits to both the provider and users of a service. This approach hinges on three key principles:

  • Alignment with broader goals: Each business function is mapped to associated business functions with a view on broader organizational goals and ultimate client deliverables. This is further drilled down by aligning with individual employee KPIs.
  • Delivery of tangible benefits: The focus is on the prioritization of relatively low cost and complexity functions that require minimal behavioral change (thereby avoiding adoption related challenges) and delivery of tangible benefits that employees / users can experience in their day-to-day work life.
  • Agile approach: This minimizes risks of misdirected output and large cost outlays, creating a tight feedback cycle that allows for frequent adaptation.


Focus areas for service design initiatives

Firms looking to embrace service design, must focus on the following key aspects:                            

  • Design intelligent processes and workflows: Firms must aim to instill domain-specific best practices and develop connected workflows to ensure seamless delivery.
  • Advance functional capabilities: Advanced analytics, AI, and other emerging technologies should be included, along with a globally spread workforce, to generate predictive insights and targeted solutions.
  • Enable digital workforce: Digital platforms that cater to specific use cases can lead to productivity improvement and provide the foundation for better inter-BU collaboration.

By dedicating time to re-engineer processes through a bottom-up service design approach you can register meaningful long-term delivery benefits. You can also create a modernized and fulfilling workplace that encourages employees to work towards creating centers of excellence and innovation; retain knowledge; and reduce turnover.

The infographic below sums up the key elements of a bottom-up service design approach, its implementation, and potential benefits.

Download as .pdf from here

Mayank Sharma
Senior Practice Expert, Investment Management Posts

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