In this second episode of a special two-part series, Jim Tessmer, Head of Digital Product Strategy at BBH sits down with Dave Cowing of NovusNorth, to discuss how BBH approaches digital as a product and entirely new, digital first services.
Below is a summary of the conversation between Dave and Jim.
Dave: How are you shifting gears in the current environment? Any new ways of working?
Jim: The first one is we’re back in the office, as you can see today, and excited to be here! But this year is definitely going to be a unique one for us. Over the last few years, we delivered a completely redesigned client experience that we branded Infuse® for all of our Investor Services products, all geographies, all clients. In that our objective was to use digital and client experience as a way to add value to our existing products and services, not yet to create new ones. But really focused on product resiliency – how do we visually reinforce the Brown Brothers value proposition for our existing products through the digital user experience. Last time, we talked a lot about some of the themes that we used, and we’ve had a great amount of success with that. It’s really changed the way that we engage with clients and prospects. It plays really nicely into our objectives for that decision maker persona that we talked about, as well.
Product resiliency – how we visually reinforce the Brown Brothers value proposition for our existing products through the digital user experience
Jim: While we continue to refine that user experience in terms of breadth and depth across our products, we’re also thinking about what’s the next big thing for our digital client experience. For that perspective, we’re starting to look beyond our core products. This year, we’re really starting to focus on looking at digital as a product where we create new products, not just enhance and add digital value to the existing ones. All of our products converge at what I describe as the “point of digital” – our single comprehensive digital client experience on Infuse®. That intersection gives us the point at which we can start to look horizontally across all those products to conceive of a different, more client–centric rather than product–centric, value proposition. The digital experience, that “point of digital,” also gives us the opportunity to connect to complementary sources of value add, which we’re exploring with our Connectors product suite. That’s a set of FinTech products that dovetail nicely with BBH’s products. We’re envisioning opportunities for distinct digital revenue that leverages our firm’s product technology and UX competency. So, it’s going to be a pretty exciting year for us to start to explore them.
We’re looking at digital as a product where we create new products
Dave: While technology is critical to the delivery of your services, the specialized market expertise BBH provides is a huge differentiator. How do you balance or align these two elements to deliver your customer experience?
Jim: That’s certainly a key part of the Brown Brothers value proposition to our clients. We tried to figure out how do we embed that into a digital experience and there’s a couple of ways that we’ve really been able to do that. First, we’re really fortunate that we’ve got product owners and client servicing teams that, while they’re servicing day to day needs, they’re also product visionaries. They are always looking ahead for new nuances to their product or service, or new products that they can create on top of what’s already existing. We’ve had some great opportunities to collaborate on product ideation and leverage our UX design capabilities to bring those ideas to life. Beyond what we’ve done from a client experience perspective, the firm’s really recognizing the value that we can bring to the table for exploring new products through visual prototypes. Digitally visualizing a concept is such a powerful tool for exploring a product and figuring out and understanding better the viability of a product. We’ve had a lot of success partnering with those experts.
Jim: Our clients are at the center of everything we do. So, in addition to working with our product owners and client servicing teams, we’ve got a great Voice of Client program that we tap into to, to use as a sounding board and validate with our clients some of these new ideas or to cultivate ideas with clients. Not all these explorations find their way to investment, but we’ve got a program and energy to explore them. I find that certainly unique here with Brown Brothers.
Jim: A couple quick examples there. We just recently envisioned a new digital experience for smart contracts looking ahead into our clients’ future experience with digital assets. As that investment class is becoming more popular on the institutional side, those institutions are looking for service providers who can handle that type of investment and asset class and there’s a lot of interest there. So, we’re getting ahead of that one. Secondly, I think in terms of taking advantage of our empathy towards our clients and our market expertise in our client service teams. They are really passionate empathizers of the client experience at BBH. The best example I’ve had with that in my last few years in our portal was not about what we designed in terms of the user experience and the themes we really talked about. But it was more around how we were going to deliver that experience to the clients.
Dave: You mentioned your rollout story the last time we were talking as part of delivering your customer experience.
Jim: Going back we, as I mentioned, redesigned soup to nuts the entire user experience for all our clients, all our products, and all geographies. We were super excited about the new user experience from the digital team here designing all of those great new interactive and immersive experiences. And really excited to get that out to clients. But our servicing teams kept reminding us that those personas we’re servicing, this operational manager or processor, they have critical daily time sensitive processes that just need to happen. Disrupting those would result in a negative perception of our cool new Infuse® portal. It wasn’t going to matter how great that new user experience was if rolling it out caused disruption or issues in those daily processes, the feedback would have been would have been negative. So, we put a lot of thought into that and spent time thinking about user journeys and user personas around what we called the day one experience. Because one day these users from our clients were going to log in to the portal and it was going to look completely different. So, there was going to be an immediate reaction.
Our goal was to ensure that no client would log in to the portal, see the new experience, and go, “where’s my stuff?”
Jim: We ended up turning our whole rollout process around that we called the “Where’s my Stuff” approach. Our goal was to ensure that no client would log in to the portal, see the new experience, and go, “where’s my stuff, I can’t get my job done.” We wanted them to be able to get into the portal and ensure that, seamlessly, they were able to get through the daily processing that they needed to do. Get to all the data, all the insights, all the reports that they need, just as smoothly as they did the day before, in an experience that they had used maybe for a decade. And so, the rollout process and some of the UI that we initially deployed, was focused just on that. It was focused on making sure it was a seamless no issue, no delay, experience on day one, and not so much designed on showcasing the newest latest user experiences and interactive capabilities that we had. We were really successful and clients really appreciated and noted that the introduction of Infuse® felt seamless to them. And it delivered new valuable experience.
Jim: The takeaway for me was the importance here at BBH that we place on our clients and the recognition that we’re a component in a broader ecosystem. We need to consider that we’re injecting newness into that ecosystem. I’ve used some car analogies, as we’ve gone through our conversations, and another one I had is, you go buy a new car. It’s got all these cool new features in it, and it’s super exciting, but the end of the day, you really need to just get home. We want to make sure that our clients can get into this new experience, comfortably get home, and then take time to explore the new capabilities and adopt them into their processes.
NovusNorth is an outcome-oriented experience consultancy that designs and develops digital products and platforms for the financial services industry. Capabilities include strategy, design, technology, and product management. Building on decades of experience helping firms compete and delight their customers, they’ve created a new way of delivering digital applications that starts with metrics and embeds measurement throughout the process.
Learn more at www.novusnorth.com
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (“BBH”) may be used to reference the company as a whole and/or its various subsidiaries generally. This material and any products or services may be issued or provided in multiple jurisdictions by duly authorized and regulated subsidiaries. This material is for general information and reference purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or investment advice and is not intended as an offer to sell, or a solicitation to buy securities, services or investment products. Any reference to tax matters is not intended to be used, and may not be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or other applicable tax regimes, or for promotion, marketing or recommendation to third parties. All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed, and reliance should not be placed on the information presented. This material may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted, or any of the content disclosed to third parties, without the permission of BBH. All trademarks and service marks included are the property of BBH or their respective owners.© Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. 2023. All rights reserved. IS-08687-2023-03-01