Customer loyalty best practice holds that one of the most welcome and sure-fire methods to build profitable and sustainable relationships with best customers is to involve them in your product development process. By encouraging your most engaged customers to submit product ideas and to suggest process improvements, you can create a sense of ownership amongst your most valuable customer segments that becomes difficult for a competitor to dislodge with a promotion or discounting play. From Dell’s Ideastorm to the Lego Ideas portal, companies have successfully built loyal relationships by giving their customers a voice in product development. Now Citi is trying to replicate this model in the financial services space.
By Rick Ferguson
This month, Citi unveiled a new beta-testing community, called Canvas Designed by Citi, that enables customers to co-create products and digital capabilities that promote their financial wellness. This new beta-testing community will use data across a customer's full financial relationships to design and deliver insights and solutions that improve financial wellness. Money quote from Yolande Piazza, CEO of Citi FinTech:
"The customer is at the heart of everything we do, and Canvas takes co-creation to the next level. This new beta-testing community is a platform for customers to test live solutions in real-world conditions that improve their financial wellness. Our goal is to help our customers reach their financial goals by delivering a holistic view of their financial lives right in the palm of their hand."
Canvas Designed by Citi enables customers to shape the creation process and easily share feedback, supplementing Citi's existing co-creation programs, which have led to the launch of a series of mobile capabilities and customer experience enhancements. Through this new beta-testing community, customers register to access and test solutions. Initial tests will focus on helping customers classify and visualize their spending versus their income and offering advice to help them reach their financial goals.
New tests will be released on a regular basis, and registered community members who are selected to participate will be notified. Depending on feedback received from the community, solutions may be iterated and retested, discarded, or put into production to be rolled out live to customers. More information on the status of each test will be available on the Canvas website. Money quote #2 from Citi FinTech Global Chief Product Officer Carey Kolaja:
"This beta community is among the first of its kind to be launched by a bank and we are excited to add Canvas to our customer co-creation and open banking programs. By delivering a comprehensive view of our customers' financial lives across all their banking relationships, Canvas is designed to empower customers to test, collaborate and influence the latest Citi ideas benefiting their financial wellness while enabling Citi to continuously test new ideas, partnerships and business models."
Cornerstone Advisors director of research Ron Shevlin, while skeptical that consumers will take advantage of budgeting and planning tools, agrees that the Canvas program has the potential to be a great customer engagement tool:
“What's noteworthy here is the creation of a platform to engage customers in the design and roll-out of new products and features. Few financial institutions--especially those below the megabank and super large regional level--do a good job of soliciting feedback on new features and products before deployment. That's understandable, in a way--they rely on their vendors to do that for them. But the beauty of Citi's announcement goes beyond the benefits of new product testing--it's a customer engagement strategy.
“The simple act of signing up to participate in the community is a signal of an "engaged" consumer--whether it's someone engaged with the bank, or engaged with the management of his/her financial life. It almost doesn't matter what they think of the products and services being tested--they're raising their hands, and signaling that they're different from the rest of the pack by simply signing up to participate.”
We couldn’t agree more—and we’ll be excited to watch Citi nurture and develop the Canvas community. The Canvas beta-testing community is open to Citi customers here.
Rick Ferguson is Editor in Chief of the Wise Marketer Group and a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).