Commercial Lending

The bank we worked with is deeply committed to enabling effective and responsible lending to businesses, especially SMEs, so as to help not only its own business to grow but to support growth in the UK economy. Examine current lending practices and user experiences, and help the bank improve their current commercial lending services.

Client: Royal Bank of Scotland |Category: Group Project | Time:10.10.15 - 16.12.15 | Team Members: Ayako Fujiwara, Klaudia Doerffer

The Situation


We started our project by developing an through understanding of the commercial lending process and the diferent steps and possible obstacles that are involved.

During our research with small business owners and start ups, it has nevertheless come to our attention that there is a broken relationship between banks and small businesses. Banks are distrusted and not seen as a helpful partner when owners face the challenge of growing or maintaining their business. This is why banks are often not even considered as a source for lending money.

Based on this we decided to take a step back and re-frame our brief, and look at the relationship between banks and small businesses, and business banking services generally.

Meet Penelope

Our Persona
Meet Penelope: Penelope is 27 and has worked in a flower shop as a student. She has been running her own flower shop for five years, which opened with the financial help from her family. She has now one employee, Eric, who works part time for her. Her business has been going very well and now she is thinking about expanding her business and buying a van so that she can start delivering flowers.

The Problem


“Creating delightful engagement experiences is all about timing. It’s about reaching customers in the right place, at the right time, with the right kind of service or message. The holy grail is to engage customers at key “moments of truth”, where money and life connects, and consciousness about finances overall is raised.

In the past, the industry has often focused on “life events” as key moments of truth - when we get a new job, move, when we have a child, when we retire. Theses moments are important but infrequent, [...] if we think about the customer experience of money for everyday individuals, perhaps the most frequent moment of truth happens nearly every day.” - Brett King, Bank 3.0

We have identified a number of key moments in our Penelope’s weekly business cycle, which are important to her but which the bank doesn’t currently respond to.

Business Cycle

Where is the bank when Penelope needs support?

Where is the bank when Penelope thinks about growing her business?

Where is the bank when Penelope plans the coming business week?

Where is the bank when Penelope wants to buy a van?

Design Direction
The bank wants to add value to their business banking services and aims to become a proactive partner in a lifelong relationship with their current and future customers. How can we help the bank provide a banking solution that fits into their customer’s lifestyle and caters to their specific needs, by using its existing assets and forming new partnerships , so as to help not only the bank to grow its own business but to support growth in the UK economy ?

The Solution


Steer homepage

Steer is a SME banking solution, which redefines the relationship between banks and businesses and makes it a trusted and proactive partner in their everyday customer’s life.

It helps customers make informed decisions, based on curated, timely and relevant information, manage their business in one place with a simple and transparent interface and realise their full potential through forming connections within the banks vast network of clients and partners.

Steer’s inform page provides curated, relevant and timely information to the user, which allows him to make informed decisions about his business. Based on the information and data we gather about our users through the use of cookies, tags, analysis of provided data, geolocation, etc, we are able to personalise this page for the benefit of the user and Steer.

Inform page
Conect page

Steer’s connect page provides its users the opportunity to form new connections within the banks’ vast network of clients and partners so that they can realise their full potential and grow. The profiles of SMEs divided into several categories: wholesaler, freelancer, potential clients, potential partners, potential suppliers etc. The system will create bespoke business introduction to highly recommended partners/clients/suppliers.

Steer’s business dashboard provides its users all the essentials to run, manage and sustain or grow their business through a simple and transparent interface. That the user can drag and drop widgets onto his main page, so that it is fully personalized:
• Accounting tools provided by a partner like Xero (cash flow, invoicing, payments, payroll widgets)
• Simple managing tools like a calendar, to-do list etc.
• Curated, relevant and timely offers from the bank and other third parties, based on the information and data we gather about our users through the use of cookies, tags, analysis of provided data, geolocation, etc, we are able to personalise this page for the benefit of the user and Steer.
• A chat for questions and help
• Putting together and exporting financial reports
• Instant quote tool for business loans provided by a partner like Funding Circle.

Conect page

Smart cross- and up selling
We plan to bring ROI through identifying relevant products and services for customer growth – in other words, cross-selling and up-selling products not only from the bank, but also from partners and third party service providers. Systems will anticipate the sale based on behavioural patterns, triggers, the use of cookies, geolocation data and advocacy mechanisms. Customers will see this not as marketing per se, but as providing a service, as the resulting “point of impact” messages will be individual, unique and integrated seamlessly into their daily lives when and where they need “the bank”.

Steer Blueprint