Digital Cash Flow Journey

Working for PNC Bank as a Digital Experience Design Intern focusing on Customer Experience Design, User Research, and Product Strategy.


🔎 Introduction

The project focuses on the Business Banking Onboarding Process, during which new Business Banking customers are introduced to PNC’s services and digital environment. The current onboarding process is a multi-step, multi-channel experience in which the new customer visits a PNC branch, receives phone calls, and receives physical mail.

🔎 Approach

The vision is to make this process entirely digital and functional at scale. By mapping out the current process and identifying key pain points, we were able to redesign the process to be fully digital and far more efficient than it is currently.

🔎 Role

Work on this project was divided up based on individual areas of expertise. My focus was on the Magic Form and Solution Algorithm design. For the Magic Form, I helped take qualitative customer information and turn it into quantitative, measurable information. I designed the Solution Algorithm process, including the weighting and time distribution.

🔎 Duration

July 2017 - August 2017

🔎 Project Team

John Falcone // Jack Baker // Hajira Qazi

🔎 Tools

Excel // Sketch

01     -     Introduction

The Digital Cash Flow Journey assignment was the capstone project for my Digital Experience Design Internship with PNC. The assignment was as follows:


Transition the Business Banking Onboarding Process from its current state to a digital end-to-end state, improving the onboarding experience. 

The assignment focuses on the Business Banking Onboarding Process, during which new Business Banking customers are introduced to PNC’s services and digital environment. The current onboarding process is a multi-step, multi-channel experience in which the new customer visits a PNC branch, receives phone calls, and receives physical mail. The vision is to make this process entirely digital and functional at scale. You’ll see current-state and future-state frequently in this report. Current-state refers to the current state of the onboarding process, and future-state refers to our proposed solution.

02     -     Current-State Overview

The below User Flow Diagram represents a typical onboarding experience in current-state.


After a long and complicated registration process, which can take well over a week to complete, the new customer receives a Business Banking checking account. The customer then receives introductory correspondence and promotions for other services over the rest of the onboarding period.

03     -     Customer Experience Challenges

After an extensive audit of the current-state process and internal data, three key pain points in the customer experience were identified. Fixing these three Pain Points would greatly improve the experience of the onboarding customer.  

01     -     Answering the same question multiple times was frustrating for the user.

In the current-state process, there are multiple gates through which the new Business Banking user must pass to complete registration and onboarding, many of which are bogged down with superfluous questions, with which nothing of benefit is done for the user. Some of these questions were asked two or three times over the onboarding experience, which indicates a lack of fluidity between the various stages of the current-state process.

02     -     Undefined contact timeline reduced process consistency, and was inconvenient to the user.

The segmented communication channels through which the customer is being reached, which include phone calls, physical letters, and email, lacked the consistency that the process would need in a fully digital future-state. These different channels were being used interchangeably over the onboarding process, so the user wouldn’t necessarily know which channel future correspondence from PNC would be coming from.

03     -     Users felt that the inconsistency of the timing diminished the value of the correspondence.

The current-state process was also inconsistent with the timing of its outreach. There wasn’t a planned distribution timeline or schedule facilitating evenly-spaced correspondence. Without a distribution timeline, users could be contacted two or three times a week, and then go another two weeks without anything. 

04     -     Unable to indicate contact preferences, users were forced into outreach timelines.

During the onboarding process, the customer would receive correspondence from PNC periodically, which included introductory materials and information on PNC products and services. This correspondence would come in varying quantities over the course of onboarding, and the user wasn’t easily able to manipulate the frequency of these communications. By not offering an opportunity for users to indicate how often they’d like to be contacted, we were overwhelming users who felt that they were being contacted too often, and concerning users who felt that they weren’t being contacted enough.

05     -     Users felt that receiving irrelevant product offers suggested their business wasn’t valued.

This lack of personalization carried over into other aspects of PNC’s onboarding outreach. The contact that users would receive regarding PNC product offerings wasn’t factoring in information on their business needs and goals. Often times, contact would be made regarding products that the customer wouldn’t have any need for.

06     -     Users didn’t want to complete multiple Solution Selectors to receive diversified, tailored product recommendations.

Product Recommendations are at the core of the onboarding experience. In current-state, users are able to access “Solution Selectors” within the online banking environment. These Solution Selectors ask questions to the customer about their business, and recommend products within PNC’s ecosystem based on the results. These Selectors, however, are siloed by product category – meaning that if a customer wanted recommendations across all categories, or didn’t have a specific product category in mind, they would have to complete all of the Solution Selectors to receive comprehensive feedback.

04     -     Proposed Future-State

The below User Flow Diagram represents the new onboarding experience in future-state. Here, the onboarding process has been redesigned and significantly condensed. The updated process has four key components: The Magic Form, the updated Solution Algorithm, the new Time Algorithm, and the Personalized Journey.


The Magic Form

The Magic Form is the core of the entire future-state proposal. The Magic Form would replace the collection of other demographic surveys the customer might encounter in the current-state registration and onboarding process. Upon completing account registration, the customer is presented with the Magic Form. The form contains two sections – the preferential section and the demographic section.

The Magic Form gathers user contact preferences and demographic information - which is used to tailor their customer experience.

In the preferential section, the customer indicates their contact preferences, including contact frequency, preferred channel, and relevant product categories. In the demographic section, the customer is asked general questions about their business – which will help PNC better understand the their potential needs. Once the customer completes the quick Magic Form, their work is done. The rest of the future-state proposal is a digital process which occurs behind the scenes.


The Solution Algorithm 

The Solution Algorithm works by aggregating recommendations from the Solution Selector. It treats each of these individual Solution Selectors as separate APIs, and using the customer’s answers to the Magic Form questions, returns ranked product results across all product categories.

The Solution Algorithm uses the customer information to generate a ranked list of PNC products that would be of most value to the customer. 



The Time Algorithm

 Within the Time Algorithm, the ranked list of products is mapped onto a content distribution timeline, which will determine when in the onboarding experience customers will receive promotional materials. The Time Algorithm uses Category Weights to calculate the distribution order. The Category Weights allow for the informed distribution of promotional materials during on onboarding, integrating customer preferences and allowing this system to work digitally at scale.

The Time Algorithm distributes the products identified by the Solution Algorithm along an onboarding timeline, delivering relevant information at the right times over their onboarding process.

Refer to the diagram below for a better understanding of how the Category Weights would function in context. For this demonstration, the same Magic Form question-answer pairs and resultant product scores from the prior diagram were used.


For this demonstration, the same Magic Form question-answer pairs and resultant product scores from the prior diagram were used. The Category Weights are applied to each of these tops scores, and the resulting weighted score is used to assign the product a place along the 90-day timeline. In this case, the Category Weights and timeline placements are arbitrary, but serve as an example of the potential application. If, for example, PNC knew that Lending products were most sought after during the first 20 days of onboarding, Lending could be given comparatively high weight so that it’s more likely to get recommended to the user earlier in the onboarding process.

One the distribution timeline is created, the impact can be seen on the customer’s onboarding process. This 90-day onboarding period of planned, tailored outreach is the Personalized Journey.

The Personalized Journey

The Personalized Journey is created using the distribution timeline from the Time Algorithm. A user profile is created, combining the preferential data from the Magic Form and the schedule from the distribution timeline to create a fully-personalized onboarding timeline for the user. In the below diagram of a Personalized Journey, a user has indicated an interest in receiving product promos and enrichment materials via email.

The Personalized Journey is the customer's unique onboarding process.


Now that the comprehensive future-state proposal has been covered, we’re able to assess how this compares with the current-state process. To visualize the differences between the states, take a look at the Comparative Customer Journey Diagram below.


05     -     Customer Experience Solutions

The future-state proposal covers all of the customer experience Pain Points addressed earlier in this report. By designing an efficient, optimized process, incorporating experience personalization, and consolidating the recommendation experience, each current-state Pain Point has been fixed, leading to an improved onboarding experience in the future-state. 

01     -     Reducing the quantity and complexity of questions made the onboarding experience easier.

In the future-state process, the Business Banking onboarding experience is streamlined  and completely digital, end-to-end. The superfluous questions that the customer was required to answer have been removed, and the repetitive questions have been consolidated or removed. By removing these unnecessary hurdles from the onboarding experience, the frustrations that resulted from them have been mitigated.

02     -     Contacting the user through their preferred channel maintained consistency and satisfaction through the process.

By transitioning the onboarding process to a fully digital end-to-end state, the confusion and uncertainty that would come from the segmentation of the communication channels were removed. Consolidating correspondence to one primary channel that aligns with the user’s expectations of consistency and translates to an experience that’s more polished.

03     -     Consistent timing increased the value of the correspondence to the user.

Through integrating the Time Algorithm and the Personalized Journey into the future-state proposal, a correspondence timeline can now be created for each new user. This timeline allows for users to receive evenly-timed correspondence from PNC throughout their onboarding experience, and with the help of the Solution Algorithm, can provide material based on their progress in the onboarding process.

04     -     Giving the user control of their onboarding made the experience more valuable.

The introduction of a personalized onboarding experience was a central goal of the future-state process redesign. The implementation of the Magic Form gives the user an opportunity to take control over all aspects of their onboarding experience - from the timing of communication from PNC to the nature of the content they want to hear about. This start-to-finish personalization of the onboarding experience emphasizes the aspects of the experience the users would deem useful, while cutting out unnecessary communication that would be seen as bothersome and arbitrary.

05     -     Relevant product offers indicated that PNC understood and cared about their needs.

With personalization also came the ability for PNC to better understand the offerings that the new customer did - and did not - want to hear about. By enabling the customers to indicate which product categories they are and aren’t interested in the Magic Form, PNC is able to confidently know which products and service are most likely to be of value to the user, based on information they’ve provided directly.

06     -     Condensing the product recommendation process made it easier for users to understand which PNC products were best for their business needs.

By introducing the Solution Algorithm, the previously disjointed product recommendation experience was consolidated into one unobtrusive experience for the customer, most of which occurs behind the scenes. Instead of completing as many as seven different Solution Selectors for personalized product recommendations, the Solution Algorithm - taking the answers provided in the Magic Form - creates a ranked list of products for the user across all product categories.

05     -     Conclusion


Presenting the capstone project on the last day of the internship.

Redesigning the Business Banking Onboarding Experience let me see parts of PNC and Business Banking that I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Getting exposure to new people, with new ideas, dealing with new challenges – really pushed me out of my comfort zone and got me thinking in ways I simply hadn’t before. Understanding what it takes to design a process – not only a product, but a process – was very educational. With a newfound understanding of how customer experience design and product strategy work in an enterprise setting, I’m excited to be able to apply what I’ve learned to future projects.

All rights reserved. Â© 2019 John Falcone.