- Insider Intelligence spoke with Allison Beer, chief product officer and head of customer experience and digital at Chase, about what “digital transformation” looks like within her company.
- This Q&A is an excerpt from one of 15 interviews we conducted for our new report, The Banking Heads of Digital Report: 15 Leaders on Priorities, Challenges, and Opportunities.
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When Insider Intelligence asked Allison Beer, chief product officer and head of customer experience and digital at Chase, to tell us what “digital transformation” looks like within her company, she demurred about whether it was an accurate way to describe what Chase is doing.
“I really hate that term, actually, because it says we’re not primarily digital today. We are!” Beer said. “I think less about whether a service or channel should be digital or physical than what an industry-leading customer experience looks like across all of those channels. We feel passionately that it’s about serving customers however they want to be served. A one-track transformation to digital isn’t enough.”
Beer is one of the executives Insider Intelligence recently spoke with to better understand how heads of digital define their roles and their place in the organization; how trends are shaping their responsibilities; the greatest challenges they face with digital transformation; and the priorities they’ve set for the future.
Though digital started as a supplement to traditional branch banking, it’s now a game changer for the customer relationship, permeating the organization through every line of business. And the banking head of digital is a linchpin to their organization’s success: Their status, agency, and impact are the highest they’ve ever been—and they’re still climbing.
The following has been edited for brevity and clarity
Insider Intelligence (II): Can you explain your role as chief product officer and how being head of digital has evolved for you within that role?
Allison Beer (AB): Well, first and foremost, my job is about meeting the needs of our customers and making sure that our product organization is bringing to market beautiful, connected customer experiences.
So I do everything from managing our design team to ensuring that our divisions are running good analytics and gathering good customer insights. I partner with my colleague, Rohan [Editor’s note: Dr. Rohan Amin, chief information officer, Chase], to make sure that our tech, products, and design teams are working seamlessly together, and that we’re prioritizing to meet the most urgent needs of our customers.
II: What does it mean to be joined at the hip with the CIO and working together?
AB: I don’t know what we don’t do together. We’re constantly looking at data related to customer interactions, all the way through the process to the customer experience design. And we’re always asking: Where are there opportunities for us to refine things? How can we build partnerships to do that?
The thing that’s so fun about having this job, at this time, is seeing just how quickly we’re now bringing things to market for our customers.
We have been on a multiyear journey to transform the way we develop products. We’ve been really focused on becoming a design-led, product-oriented organization. For each Agile product team, there’s a head of product, a head of tech, and a head of design, and those three people are all focused on providing tech results for our customers.
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II: How have those connections and thoughts about the digital and omnichannel experience changed over the course of your time in digital?
AB: We’ve become more sophisticated about the way we approach our own picture. We’re moving to a new basic architecture, and that allows us to offer products across channels. Our payments team, for instance, is not just digital payments. It also covers branch payments, digital payments, all payments, every channel. We’re building solutions that work in each of those places.
That’s also part of the reason why we broadened the product team to make sure that everyone’s thinking about digital, and everyone’s thinking about the branch, and everyone’s thinking about the call center and making sure that everything is connected.
I think our structure is an acknowledgment that it’s more efficient to manage this way, and as a result, we’ll be able to provide a better customer experience.
II: You’ve alluded a lot to customer research. I wanted to build on that and ask, where do you look for inspiration? In the banking industry or outside of it?
AB: Everywhere. This is where I think that “do the work” comes from. We certainly track what our direct competitors and our nontraditional competitors do. We’re watching Big Tech and fintech in many markets around the world.
But it’s less about looking for some big exciting thing and more about analyzing our flow. If someone else has a good flow, is that better? Are we making things as easy as competitors are making them? We look across all industries—it may be totally unrelated to financial services—and when we find something surprising, some delightful customer experience, I’ll screenshot it on my phone and show it to my team as inspiration.
The inspiration for our products also comes from all levels of the organization. And you have to be out there talking to people to hear that. You have to be able to listen to people. We have so many people from unique backgrounds working together. That is what inspires such great products. To fully serve the client well, we need that diversity around the table.
II: For the next year or so, what are your immediate strategic priorities?
AB: Continuing to evolve our organization to be more agile, to make sure that the teams are living by their objectives and key results and really uplifting our customer experiences. A lot of our products that will be released in the next 12 months will place the customer front and center. And we’re focusing on refining the products that we already have. Another focus is tech devices. We’re making sure that everything is as easy to use, personalized, and seamless as possible.