Non-disruptive innovation: Best practices for modernizing the customer experience

Non-disruptive innovation: Best practices for modernizing the customer experience
Written by
Gaurav Passi
Published on



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Customer experience (CX) has become a critical differentiator in the competitive world of financial services. Today, customers have many choices, and the ability to deliver a seamless, personalized, and efficient experience can significantly impact customer acquisition, loyalty, and retention. Financial services companies must navigate complex regulatory environments, manage vast amounts of sensitive data, and meet the ever-changing expectations of their customers. The value of modernizing CX cannot be overstated—it is essential for customer satisfaction and long-term business success.

The challenge, however, is implementing and adopting innovative technology while reducing or eliminating the potential for operational disruption and compliance adherence.

At Zingly, our team has worked with many large enterprises on large-scale software implementations over their careers. We have also spent countless hours researching best practices and consulting with numerous finance industry experts, including executives from our client partners in banking, to help refine our approach.

In this post, we share some best practices and key lessons we recently learned from our journey of modernizing the customer experience in finance with a large national bank. Drawing on our extensive experience and recent initiatives, we aim to provide valuable insights that can help other financial institutions navigate their own CX transformation journeys. By highlighting our strategies, successes, and challenges, we hope to offer a practical guide for transforming customer experience in the financial services industry.

It all starts with incremental innovation as a guiding principle

Innovation is often seen as an appealing solution to many challenges a business faces, but it can involve significant risks and costs that many organizations face. True innovation typically requires substantial capital investment to modernize a portion of an enterprise's technology stacks, which can be counterproductive if not managed properly.

In our experience, organizations can achieve meaningful advancements without the associated risks and costs by leveraging current infrastructures and integrating new technologies incrementally. This method allows for testing and learning from new experiences, which provide valuable insights and guide future modernization efforts more effectively and efficiently.

Incremental innovation reduces risk and cost by utilizing existing systems and platforms, avoiding large-scale, disruptive overhauls. By methodically spacing investments in innovation over time, organizations can better manage budgets and minimize financial strain. This approach also offers flexibility and adaptability, enabling the scalable implementation of new features and technologies in stages. It also allows for adjustments based on real-world results and evolving customer expectations. 

Avoid Big Bangs and embrace a test-and-learn approach

Start by seeking partners who are open to initiating small-scale pilot programs. This approach allows the organization to test new ideas and technologies in a controlled environment, gather valuable data, and cultivate insights. By making iterative improvements based on feedback, the organization can ensure that final solutions are optimized and effective, reducing risk and maximizing the potential for success.

Another benefit of this approach is better decision-making, and incorporating customer feedback at each stage ensures that developments align with customer needs and preferences.

Incremental innovation also facilitates employee and stakeholder buy-in. By gradually introducing new processes and technologies, organizations can reduce resistance and foster a culture of continuous improvement. Providing training and resources incrementally ensures that staff are well-prepared to adopt and utilize new systems effectively.

Organizations should avoid a Big Bang approach because it often involves significant risks and costs. Attempting to implement large-scale changes all at once increases the chance of encountering unforeseen issues that can compromise the overall system, leading to potential service interruptions, customer dissatisfaction, reputational damage, and revenue loss.

The role of leadership in CX transformation

Strong leadership and a clear vision for digital innovation are essential for successful customer experience (CX) transformation. Effective leaders recognize the importance of aligning various areas of the organization to ensure a cohesive approach. To ensure this alignment in your organization, we recommend focusing leaders on the following:

  • A customer-centric approach: Putting the customer at the heart of all digital initiatives and ensuring that every product, service, and interaction is designed to meet and exceed customer expectations.
  • Embrace innovation: Embracing new technologies and approaches to improve the customer experience continuously. This includes leveraging AI and machine learning to deliver personalized recommendations and predictive analytics.
  • Seek efficiencies: Streamlining processes and systems to reduce costs and improve service delivery. This includes modernizing telephony and digital platforms to enhance customer interactions and support.
  • Ensure scalability: Ensuring that digital solutions can scale to meet the growing and changing needs of the company’s diverse customer base. This involves building flexible systems that can adapt to new demands and opportunities.
  • Data-driven decision making: Utilizing data and analytics to inform strategy and improve customer experiences. By understanding customer behavior and preferences, the company can tailor its services to meet customer needs better.

Bringing the voice of the customer into the decision-making

In our conversations with executives in finance and our own experience implementing CX modernization initiatives, the importance of integrating the voice of the customer into decision-making processes is crucial. Here are some key methods to ensure your customer’s perspectives are incorporated into the process:

  • Collect customer insights: Collect inputs like surveys, interviews, and operational data to inform the organization about what should be prioritized for customers, areas needing improvement, and where you are currently experiencing success.
  • Bring the customers' voice to meetings: Customer feedback should be brought into meetings with third-party vendors and during the design of new experiences. This ensures that customer insights are central to the processes.
  • Prioritize improvements: The collected data helps prioritize aspects of the customer experience that need enhancement and identify successful areas that should be maintained.
  • Have an ongoing feedback loop: Surveys should be sent out regularly, ensuring a continuous flow of feedback. For example, one partner collected 110,000 survey responses the previous year, which provided a healthy sample size for analyzing customer satisfaction and areas for improvement.
  • Address pain points: Specific challenges identified through customer feedback can be used to prioritize improvements and ensure that real customer pain points are being addressed effectively.

Effective collaboration and design partnerships

An effective design partnership allows you to find solutions that meet your organization's unique needs. This approach facilitates better integration with existing systems and processes, ensuring smoother implementation and more effective outcomes. When seeking partners willing to engage in design partnerships rather than offering out-of-the-box solutions, look for: 

  • Tailored functionality: Choose a partner that offers configurable solutions that meet your organization's unique needs. Ensure the software can be configured and adapted to your specific requirements, providing flexibility and alignment with your business processes.
  • Compatibility with existing systems: Look for partners who can seamlessly integrate with your existing CRM, CCaaS, and core systems, minimizing disruptions and ensuring a smooth transition.
  • Iterative development process: Partners should commit to continuous improvement based on feedback. Find those who offer regular updates and enhancements to ensure the software evolves with your needs and industry standards.
  • Aligned objectives: Ensure the partner understands your business goals and shares a common vision for the software's implementation and usage. A vendor with aligned objectives will be more committed to supporting your success and addressing your specific challenges.
  • Transparent processes: Select partners who maintain open lines of communication and provide regular updates on the software’s development, performance, and any issues. Transparency in their processes and responsiveness to your concerns are crucial for building trust and ensuring a successful partnership.

Are you starting on your own CX transformation journey?

A CX transformation is not just about adopting new technologies. A successful program entails adopting a culture of continuous improvement and customer-centricity across all levels of the organization. If your organization is embarking on its own customer experience (CX) transformation journey, consider the following actionable steps and resources:

Conduct a CX assessment

  • Assess your current customer experience landscape. Identify your strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement.
  • Collect and analyze customer feedback through surveys, interviews, and operational data to comprehensively understand their needs and pain points.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of current CX tools and technologies, identifying gaps or outdated systems.

Define your CX vision and strategy

  • Determine what success looks like for your organization. For example, do you want to improve customer satisfaction, increase revenue, or both?
  • Be sure your CX strategy aligns with your overall business goals and objectives to create a cohesive approach.
  • Create a detailed CX roadmap that outlines short-term and long-term actions, milestones, and timelines for achieving your CX vision.

Engage with the right partners

  • Look for partners that offer solutions tailored to your organization's needs and ensure they can integrate with your existing systems.
  • Find a partner who shares your values and aligns with your team to ensure a more effective outcome.
  • Do your due diligence, ask for references, and talk to the vendors' clients to get a good sense of working with them.

Find an opportunity for a pilot

  • Look for high-impact areas within your customer experience with significant room for improvement and potential for high impact.
  • Select a pilot program that is small enough to manage effectively but large enough to provide meaningful insights.
  • Establish KPIs, such as reduced response times or increased operational efficiency, to evaluate the pilot's effectiveness.

Modernizing the customer experience in the financial services industry requires a thoughtful approach that balances innovation with practical considerations. By embracing incremental innovation, prioritizing the customer's voice, and fostering strong leadership and effective partnerships, financial institutions can enhance their CX, drive customer satisfaction, and achieve long-term business success.