Download Case Study

Agile Transformation Support to Improve an Ongoing Customer Dissatisfaction Issue

Client: Mutual Fund Company
As one of the largest mutual fund companies, the client is the leading provider of workplace savings plans in the US and a provider of Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs). They offer retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage services, and many other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals and institutions, as well as to more than 5,000 financial intermediary firms.

The Challenge:

The client was faced with a significant customer satisfaction issue. The processes of investing and making deposits were simple, but customers were dissatisfied with how difficult it was to withdraw their money in a timely manner. The desired outcome was to improve customer satisfaction by making it easier for the customers to withdraw from their investment accounts. The urgency of this initiative made it impossible to rely on time-consuming fixes that required changes to the internal systems or the website. Lacking the subject matter experts to resolve the issue within these parameters, they sought help.

The Solution:

Eliassen Group was entrusted with this initiative based on our 20-year relationship with the client. We crafted an Agile team that pulled subject matter experts from the home office, the phone center, and retail investor centers, in addition to an expert from Legal, Risk, and Compliance. An Agile Coach was assigned to the team to help them learn and apply Agile principles and practices. While the team was not co-located, they were given the mandate to make this their one and only assignment.

Once the team members understood their assignment, the entire team came together for a 2-day onsite face-to-face meeting. During this time, the Agile Coach led them in exercises to learn Agile principles and practices, ensuring they fully understood their purpose as a team, what the expected outcomes were, and how they would work together. The team also participated in some team-building activities to reinforce the team mentality and cohesiveness.

The team’s first sprint was to focus on understanding all the various ways customers can withdraw their money. This process yielded the discovery that the issue wasn’t with general withdrawals, but with the withdrawal process specific to when the customer had an urgent need to withdraw their money. Confirmation of this discovery came through a couple of informal focus groups. The first sprint’s focus helped the team identify the 3 primary methods of withdrawal: having a check mailed, having a check overnighted, and using a wire transfer. In the sprint review, the team discussed how the real source of dissatisfaction was customers with urgent need. Management stakeholders then agreed to reduce the scope of the project to only urgent withdrawal requests.

The next sprint focused on the documentation requirements for each type of withdrawal. It was essential to know how much money was being withdrawn by the customers. The team then decided to do some data analysis to determine how frequently different amounts were being requested, and from which customer segments the requests came. A further discovery was that customers were not interested in when the funds were sent, but in when the funds were available in their local bank. Having all the consultants they needed on the team, they were able to act, make decisions, and move forward without delay. Subsequent sprints focused on getting policies changed, altering some processes, and making broader organizational changes.

The Result:

Under the guidance of Eliassen Group, the client changed their policy regarding the deposit limits at which wet ink signatures would be required. Under the new policy, only 15% of all withdrawals require a wet ink signature, which is down from approximately 75%. Now, most of the customer withdrawals are transfers to be sent via EFT. This means funds are available to customers the next day, whereas the old policy of using an overnight check typically took 5 to 8 days to arrive after the request was made. Not only were customers satisfied, but this change also saves the client nearly $800K annually in overnight fees. The client’s customer service representative team was satisfied that this solution truly resolved the issue and increased customer satisfaction. Our team also reorganized the wire transfer process to reduce the wire transfer team from 12 to 8.

Highlighted Results

  • Client saved nearly $800K in overnight mailing fees
  • Decreased wet ink signature requirements for all withdrawals from 75% to 15%
  • Wire transfer team was streamlined & reorganized from 12 to 8 team members
  • Internal restructuring supported an Agile team led by an experienced Agile coach

Thinking Forward

Eliassen Group is the business optimization consulting company at the helm of industry innovation. Check out our expansive library of resources on cutting-edge processes, emerging technologies, and uniquely effective approaches below.

Content Library