Welcome to Welcome

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30 May 2017

A big part of ING’s digital transformation in Germany is a project called Welcome. What’s the story behind this mammoth undertaking? We asked Željko Kaurin, COO of ING in Germany.

1. Welcome to new thinking

“Welcome ‘does what it says on the tin,’” says Željko Kaurin. “It aims to improve the welcome we give to customers and prospects alike.” New joiners will enjoy clear and easy, fully-digital account opening processes, and our more than eight million customers in Germany will be welcomed with services that go beyond banking.

The goal is for people to think of ING when they think of banking and finance. And we have a strong starting point: ING has been voted Germany’s most popular bank an incredible 11 years in a row.

“But we can’t be sure that things tomorrow will be as good as they are today. So the biggest part of Welcome is to ‘think completely differently, think new’. We want to be a digital leader and the first truly next-generation bank in Germany.”

So the name fits, although its origin is much more mundane.

“Two years ago we put a bunch of really smart people together in a hotel for a week, to come out with ideas and a plan for how to transform ING in Germany and accelerate digitalisation. At the end of the week, we said ‘OK, now we also need a cool new programme name for this, because we’re building the future.’ But everyone was so mentally exhausted by then, that we were low on creativity. So we just looked around the hotel we were in, which was the Welcome Hotel in Frankfurt, and decided to call our new plan ‘Welcome’!”

2. Welcome to more efficiency

Kaurin: “As we grow – in services, products and customers – we try not to grow in operations. We’ve set ourselves the target to significantly improve operational efficiency, by reducing costs and speeding up processes, while still maintaining a high level of quality.”

And these efforts are already bearing fruit. Kaurin shares an example: “Our contact centre receives six million calls a year. We worked out that 850,000 of these calls are from customers who’ve accidentally blocked their online banking access, and need a reset. So we set up a new process using predictive analytics to automatically unblock those accounts, after a quick identity check. This improvement has freed up several call agents to take care of other customer service requests from our fast-growing customer base.”

It’s about welcoming new customers to the bank, with new business, new ideas, new services, everything that’s new. The idea is to always be open-minded.

- Željko Kaurin, COO of ING in Germany

3. Goodbye to queuing in the post office

First there was Video Identification. Now thanks to Welcome, new joiners will enjoy a clear and easy, three step fully-digital account opening process. So no more queuing in the post office to sign forms and identify yourself (remember, ING in Germany doesn’t have any branches).

Welcome will also make it easier for customers to do things like change their address, calculate repayment plans and close credit lines in a straightforward digital way. And there’s better predictive call routing, leading to more efficient customer service, like the earlier example of the customers who call to unblock their internet banking access.

Kaurin also mentions the “Customer Cockpit”, providing a clear and easy account overview, optimised to whichever digital device is being used. And to give customers further grip on their finances, multibanking functionality allows them to get an aggregated view of their account, balance and transaction information from any other banks that they also do business with.

Željko Kaurin, COO of ING in Germany, preparing colleagues for the Welcome journey.

Željko Kaurin, COO of ING in Germany, preparing colleagues for the Welcome journey.

4. Goodbye to legacy IT

“As soon as you put an IT system into production, it becomes legacy – that’s IT,” says Kaurin with a wry smile.

“So we want to cut up our IT into modular pieces like standardised Lego blocks, so that we can easily plug it in or plug it out. That also means we can add solutions from third-parties, outside the bank, plugged into our IT for as long as we and our customers want to use those services. And if a third-party service is no longer needed, we can easily unplug it – without being left with the legacy.”

5. Welcome to friends and fans

An interesting element of Welcome is the “Friends & Fans” concept. Kaurin uses the analogy of romantic relationships: “Think of it as ‘dating the bank’. It’s about having the chance to see, to feel, to experience ING before you say ‘yes’ and you’re locked in.”

In other words, ING in Germany will open up some of its services to prospective customers so that they can experience our award-winning service without having to commit upfront.

“In return, ING will only ask you to share some identifying credential – like your email address – so that we recognise you when you come back again. And then we can offer a more personalised and relevant experience.”

6. Welcome to the future of ING

Picture the ING of the future: a single, borderless digital platform, offering the same clear and easy experience wherever you are in the world.

It’s a platform where ING products and services are supplemented by offerings from third parties, and where all of one’s financial needs can be satisfied.

ING in Germany is already working on such a platform, which will merge ING’s current online banking and online brokerage websites, also offering services that “go beyond banking”.

Kaurin has some good news for other ING business units. The German platform is being built using international ING standards, so that components can easily be used by other countries.

The rest of ING will be eagerly awaiting this glimpse into the future!

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