Accenture Banking Blog

Global events have accelerated the shift in customer expectations. Canadian banks need to remain competitive by embracing BX to strengthen trust and ensure growth. The question now: how?

As I read my colleague Robert Vokes’ perspective on the importance of banking’s human connections in a digital age, I thought about the Business of Experience (BX) as the next level in activating more meaningful connections, and the opportunity I am seeing for Canadian banks. BX is Accenture Song’s vision for how organizations need to transform to drive new growth and brand relevance.

The customer experience (CX) is nothing new, with its focus on optimizing seamless, omni-channel touchpoints around products and services. Our perspective is that a CX focus is no longer enough. A broader, integrated approach is required to become indispensable to your customers.

This shift represents a critical opportunity for Canadian banks – and it is no wonder I am seeing more of my banking clients looking to understand operating models, new ways of working, employee experiences and technology in service of connected, consistent and meaningful experiences.

What makes this particularly interesting for Canadians and their experiences with banks? We know that Canadians have traditionally avoided moving their banking services. While there are several factors that impact these habits, it’s clear that the perceived “polite nature” of Canadians influences their banking decisions and has been a factor when looking at their previously secure loyalty and long-term reluctance to change banks.

But that’s all changing, and the reality is that switching banks has never been easier. While Canadians once remained loyal to their primary banks, a recent survey shows that 84% of Canadians would take their business elsewhere if they had a poor experience.

I can personally relate to this. After nearly four decades with the same bank, I recently moved all my financial products due to a missed opportunity from my incumbent bank to support me with financial advice after I sold my home.

As we continue to see a decline in overall satisfaction among Canadians, BX is an opportunity to solve for a customer need around a purpose – not only to expand your relationship with current customers but also attract new ones. There are Canadians, like me, who are willing to move to a new bank for a deeper, more meaningful experience.

So, we understand banks must look beyond CX to BX, but the question now is, how? It’s important to understand that this pivot requires a holistic approach and integration across the business. As I’m having these BX conversations with my Canadian banking clients, I’m recommending five key areas. Below I explore two of these recommendations. In my next post, I’ll dive into the remaining areas for a BX focus. Let’s start.


Every touchpoint matters. Your employees are a critical part in amplifying your brand and driving meaningful interactions with your customers. I continue to see this kind of empowerment through enhanced employee listening posts and immersive training, bringing experience innovation to all levels of the organization.

To create change from within you must mirror the robust customer-side listening systems that enable employees to translate insight into action. Listening posts empower each employee with a sense of ownership over the customer experience. Our research shows that employee suggestions and ideas concerning CX improvements are 7 percentage points more likely to improve the CX.

We have seen at least one Canadian bank explore virtual reality to supercharge customer empathy with branch and call center employees. Another example can be found in USAA, an organization that creates empathy for its active military and veteran customers by enrolling all new employees in a military-life awareness experience program that includes drills with a retired sergeant and periodic bootcamps. Proving that an investment in the employee experience equals rewards, USAA was the highest-rated bank in America during the pandemic.

Innovate, don’t imitate

Make experience innovation an everyday habit now. Banks that focus on catching up with neobanks or direct competitors will only be fast followers, capable of developing table-stake experiences at best. Your customers are benchmarking their expectations against personalized, proactive experiences like those of Netflix, not other banks. And you already have several advantages over digital disruptors, including your customer base and trust.

So, for Canadian banks, my advice is: It’s time to stop replicating the experience being delivered by the neighbor bank, but rather, build a model that allows and inspires innovation in-house. Shift to a product attacker mindset, rooted in deeply knowing your customer needs instead of in the confines of what is feasible today.

A true innovation culture asks you to close the gap between your brand promise and the experiences you deliver by changing not just what you say, but how you behave across your organization. This is something that fintechs have embraced. For example, PayPal’s culture of innovation has resulted in 26 times more patents than Goldman Sachs over the past five years. This pays off. According to our research, in 2020, leaders fostering a culture of innovation increased the revenue growth gap by 47 percentage points over the rest of the market.

To this end, we have seen Canada’s banks setting up innovation hubs over the past year, most recently with RBC announcing a new innovation hub in Calgary. This trend will only continue, and while it’s encouraging to see, true innovation in banking requires rewiring the mindset so that the customer experience is a part of everyone’s job.

As Canadian customers continue to shift their banking expectations, banks must look beyond the CX and shift their focus to these important areas.  I will continue to explore other elements, including operating model and experience measurement, in part two of this blog.

I’m passionate about the Business of Experience. If you’d like to discuss this topic, please connect with me on LinkedIn.

Special thanks to Abhit Sahota, Accenture Song Financial Services Consultant, for contributing to this blog.

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