January 2017

Transforming a company’s vision through a deep understanding of the client experience.

Crédit Agricole

Getting a mortgage, an important commitment.

In October 2017, the Credit Agricole Centre-Est came to Souffl with the challenge of reimagining the entire process for originating mortgages.

For many French people, getting a mortgage is a huge responsibility that often becomes a source of worry. Credit Agricole wanted to update their mortgage offer and to provide a more suitable service. To do so, they needed to understand its clients better to get a full image of the difficulties faced during this process.


/ 04

Reimagine how people get mortgages.

In order to bring new life to the process of getting a mortgage, we had to question one of the fundamental roles of credit institutions. We also had to meet the people who rely on financial institutions for accomplishing their projects and achieving their dreams.

Interview with a Credit Agricole client:

Buying a property is a positive experience, it gives us responsibility and it ties us to a place, but it is also worrying, it is an investment …
Marielle Rodriguez

Research Focus

/ 04

Reimagining the entire experience.

To reimagine the experience and to give it meaning, Souffl had to understand the complexity of the world of mortgage loans. We conducted field and desk research in order to identify trends and new uses.

October 2017

The tricky task of collecting information about money.

Given the challenging task of talking to random people about money, we decided to embark in a crazy role-playing game. We were ready to confront the reality on the ground by personally experiencing what it means to ask for a mortgage. To do so, each of us took the role of a particular client with a precise real estate project and we went meet credit institutions. With the help of Credit Agricole, we created fake bank accounts for our characters. Among the roles we embarked on was a wealthy foreign woman wanting to invest in France, a young student, a lady in the middle of a divorce, and a married man wanting to invest in a property for renting. This total immersion allowed us to question our beliefs and our biases. We were able to pinpoint different challenges that vary with our personal and professional situations. Souffl got a fine understanding of the clients and of the experiences they go through. Beyond their needs, we got to know their lifestyles, their habits, their projects, their motivations, their doubts, their perceptions, their disappointments, as well as the malfunctions and the difficulties that persist in the process. We also managed to understand the reasons behind these issues, the recommendations the clients had and what they desired.

Synthesis of the study.

/ 04

A careful restitution of the facts.

We carried out a thorough restitution of the information that was gathered during the study, which brought to light key findings. This allowed us to synthetize and to create models to clarify and get a better understanding of the information. This step is the foundation of Souffl’s collaborative design workshop. This workshop was the perfect setting for Credit Agricole’s advisors to immerse themselves in the lives of their clients. The objective was for them to step back and look at the role they play in the process of getting a mortgage, as well as the preconceived ideas they might have had of the client’s desires. Souffl had to reverse the trend and show that actively listening to the clients and to their aspirations was essential. Advisors must look beyond the paperwork required to open a client file.

Understanding complex challenges.

It was essential for bank advisors to understand that a mortgage is much more than a financial transaction. Behind the will of getting a loan, there is a human with a project that can be heavily emotional. Beyond the financial aspect, buying property could be the dream of a lifetime, or on the contrary, it could be the result of an unexpected life incident.
This was our lightbulb moment: we need to focus on « life moments ». Clients ask for loans in very specific points in life, and the worries and emotions they feel are directly linked to those life’s circumstances. The relationship between the advisor and the client, as well as the service offered by the bank, need to be tailored to each moment in life.

Transformation workshop.

Life moments.

This gathering of research and intuitions allowed bank advisors to adopt a different point of view by getting into the shoes of the client. The synergy of the teams and the immersive character of the workshop created an outstanding energy. Credit Agricole came up with numerous solutions for each of the challenges we had previously identified. The workshop was a memorable event for the Credit Agricole’s team, who showed remarkable motivation and who proved their real desire to make things better.

We let the ideas settle for a bit in order to be able to choose only the best, while identifying the potential obstacles to their implementation. The Credit Agricole’s team was proud to share the results of our collaboration with the bank’s head office for a future implementation at a national level. The bank also worked with Kea in order to put into place the transformation of the company, the management challenges that come with transformation, and to kick-off the projects.

3. Today

/ 04

A new dynamic of changes.

The collaboration with Souffl allowed a deep transformation of Credit Agricole. The findings of our study spread at a national level and got engrained in the bank’s identity. Beyond the client experience, we injected new momentum for change, we improved the commitment of the teams, their state of mind, their management practices, the bank’s financial products and it’s business model. The success of the project and its global reach were mainly due to our human-centered and design-driven approach, which allowed us to see the experience of getting a mortgage as an omnichannel experience, and to analyse all the steps of the simulation to get a loan. Customer assistance was reinforced through a more pedagogical approach and through a clearer process. The first clients that went through this new experience felt that they were really taken into consideration and that they were given the attention they deserve. Thanks to the presence of the advisor during the key moments of the process, the client now feels valued and understood. Mission accomplished!