Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water: integrating retail services in a digital age

Written by on 24th March, 2015

With 87 per cent of the UK now using the internet and us all spending nearly six hours a day either on a computer or phone it is easy to see why many organisations have placed a greater emphasis on digital interaction with their customers.

Given that most marketers have now accepted that mobile and the Internet are people’s most important devices and daily tools of preference when it comes to searching for products, services and organisation there is a danger of forgetting that people have preferred styles of interaction when accessing services and advice.

One sector who are turning their attention to integrated services, whilst embracing the need to leverage technology is the financial sector, who have recognised that meeting customer expectations requires a customer-centric approach.

An example of this is NatWest in Wales who worked with design and brand agency Rose-Innes Designs.  The agency suggested a customer-centred approach to design solutions that could be adapted to the regional treatment of the brand.

The consultancy process was led through NatWest head office at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London and then through a period of research and design phases it was developed and approved to go forward.

“In an era where our financial services are becoming more and more digital and transactional, our research has shown that there is a desire for a move back towards people centred services,” says Michelle Rose-Innes, Managing Director of Rose-Innes Designs. 

During the six months process, the research project took Rose-Innes Designs across Wales to discover the differences in values, the Welsh language needs and brand layout requirements.

“Throughout the project we relied on ideas from the staff of NatWest and employed qualitative research techniques to interview members of the public about branch accessibility, customer experience and communications.  The research findings also helped the people at head office in London to understand the market in Wales,” says Michelle.

The agency clearly discovered that Welsh customers valued their local branch and staff, so by giving NatWest in Wales its own Welsh identity with the name ‘NatWest Cymru’ it strongly demonstrated loyalty and commitment to its Welsh customers.

The research carried out on behalf of NatWest in Wales discovered that their customers responded to different styles of interaction, which required three distinct levels of service:

Self Service – those who know what to do and are more independently minded when it comes to using technology, or who want a quick pay in, take out money service.

Assisted Service – this is a side-by-side service to personally assist customers by demonstrating how to use new technology for their banking, thus improving their confidence levels.

Full personal service – customers who wanted more privacy to be able to discuss in more detail their finances such as mortgage applications and drawing out money with assistance.

NatWest Cymru redesigned their branch layout to incorporate these changes, increasing the number of private rooms and decreasing the amount of traditional cashiers behind glass, enabling customers to access their money and financial advice in different ways that suited their personal style of interaction.

“Since the new brand and refit we’ve definitely got happier customers,” says Rhian Head, Local CEO South East Wales, NatWest Bank.

“It has given us more private interview space, a greater variety of technology and facilities for side-by-side interaction which has led to better quality conversations with our customers,” said Rhian.  

For more information about how your organisation could benefit from a customer-centric design, branding and implementation project, contact Rose-Innes Designs at

Sources: 1, Google’s “Our Mobile Planet” report 2013, Ericsson Mobility Report 2013.