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Creating a scalable customer journey framework, through human-centred service design, for inclusive products and services to be compliant with the FCA’s Consumer Duty.

Cyber-Duck was chosen to create a new scalable customer journey framework and to help Handelsbanken embed a customer-centred service design approach across their products and services. Meeting the requirements of the FCA’s Consumer Duty is an essential component of their customer relationship strategy.

Key stats


Increase in operating profits to £476.4m (Jan – Dec 2023)


Increase in total income to £918.2m (Jan – Dec 2023)


Customer journeys mapped for 54 products & services

Illustrative characters representing different stages of our Handelsbanken project

Who are Handelsbanken and what did they need from Cyber-Duck?

Handelsbanken are a major Swedish bank; their central proposition is that they are a ‘relationship bank’ offering a truly personal service. They provide a suite of products and services akin to most high-street banks, including mortgages and lending, current and savings accounts, and wealth management. Many of their clients come to the bank via personal recommendations, local business networks and brokers. Each branch operates as a local business, with an in-depth understanding of the local market and community. Services are tailored to each client’s needs under their mantra of relationship banking.

Handelsbanken have always had a strong focus on delivering excellent experiences and services and are renowned for building long-lasting relationships with their customers. However, when the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) announced that a new Consumer Duty was due to come into force, this was a catalyst for Handelsbanken to implement a formal, structured UX/CX analysis and action plan. Their goal was to ensure they could meet – and evidence – their regulatory requirements, while continuing to provide excellent standards of service for all clients. With our experience in Service Design, governance and training, Cyber-Duck was chosen to create a new scalable customer journey framework and embed a customer-centred approach into the ‘Handelsbanken Way.’


  1. Comply with the requirements of Consumer Duty, meet its rigorous standards of consumer protection and embed a culture of customer research into the service design approach.
  2. Refine customer journeys to improve Handelsbanken’s systems, processes and services around the 54 products provided within the scope of Consumer Duty.
  3. Provide training and support to the workforce, empowering them to achieve the bank’s customer centred objectives and KPIs.
  4. Develop toolkits and governance systems so stakeholders can work to consistent design and technology standards, creating cohesive customer experiences across all channels.

Creating good outcomes for vulnerable users

Much of the programme of work was based around new guidelines laid out in the FCA’s Consumer Duty, which set higher standards of consumer protection for financial services firms. To meet the standards, financial firms must ensure customers receive helpful and accessible customer support, clear information, and products and services which meet their needs and offer fair value. Firms must take every possible to step to protect customers from harm – whether financial harm or other. For example, firms must not waste their time, cause them frustration, mislead them or allow them to select the wrong product.

The Consumer Duty also asserts that financial firms must consider the needs of customers in a vulnerable situation, such as financial difficulty or during life events like bereavement or poor health. We needed to ensure that vulnerable users could access the same quality of outcomes, and that their vulnerability wouldn’t disadvantage them or put them at risk.

One of our major challenges was to identify pain points which were actively causing customers harm against the spirit of Consumer Duty, as opposed to just being a standard customer service issue. If we noticed harm being caused even to one customer during our research and observations, the problem still needed to be fixed, because it would mean there was potential for the service to breach Consumer Duty guidelines.

Working with the Handelsbanken team

Handelsbanken is already regarded as a frontrunner in customer-centred design in the financial world. They have a unique ‘Handelsbanken Way’ developed over many years, and they are already very familiar with user-centred approaches. Customer-centred design was at the heart of our concept, but we had to tailor that to fit into the Handelsbanken Way and the world of relationship banking. To achieve this, we worked closely with Handelsbanken’s internal teams to create a detailed working process and roadmap, with the local branch’s relationship to the customer always at the core.

We worked with service designers within the Handelsbanken team; their insider’s knowledge of the bank and its processes was essential to the project. Together, we formed 3 service design squads to map user journeys. Each squad had access to in-house business analysts who could provide details of processes, instructions used by workers in branches, and other valuable resources and information which would inform our work.

Part of our role was to upskill people within the organisation about service design and help them understand and embrace Consumer Duty. We supported our partner Cosmic Velocity on capability building, targeted training, mentoring, and more to embed practices in the Handelsbanken team’s ways of thinking and working. We developed and delivered bespoke iterative training courses in two modules: Service Design 101, then ideation and design, which was more oriented to product owners to help them understand how they could remove pain points and ideate for the future.

All in all, we trained over 60 people from different departments. All course content was aligned to Consumer Duty requirements, and all training tools were documented internally, along with templates and how-to guides – essentially setting the Handelsbanken team up for ongoing training and learning so the embedded service design approach can continue.

We received positive feedback from Handelsbanken on our contributions and training. Henrietta De Souza, Head of Customer Experience and Development, stated: “Your work will remain a legacy and be a strong foundation for all of us in the team, as well as the many others we have worked with across the bank, to continue to build on.”

Collage of 6 photos from Consumer Duty workshop with Handelbanken. png

Mapping customer journeys and understanding their needs

Understanding customers’ needs, experiences and goals is central to Consumer Duty. We needed a systematic, robust evidence-led approach, gathering real depth of insight to direct coordinated and meaningful change. This would involve carrying out multiple forms of research to gain a comprehensive picture of the whole service.

We conducted qualitative interviews with Handelsbanken customers, including branch interviews, customer interviews and parallel interviews. It was essential to gather a diverse range of insights, and full consideration of vulnerable customers was a core element of this research every step of the way.

To map the many different customer journeys while understanding pain points, we approached it from both a branch and customer perspective, so we could understand the relationship between the two. Standard blueprints or journey maps would not effectively capture the unique Handelsbanken approach, so we created hybrid customised templates. From communications to mapping and tracking, all work was done within the Handelsbanken infrastructure.

The project was a rapidly evolving one, with shifting scope. Our initial discussions were about 3 overarching customer journeys, but these were rapidly divided and expanded into significantly more journeys, which were all analysed, researched and mapped in time for the Consumer Duty deadline, with required change prioritised and embedded into work plans.

To meet the Consumer Duty guidelines, we introduced a new approach to customer personas. Realising that anybody could become vulnerable at any time, we created vulnerable scenarios that can be overlaid over any customer persona to add an extra dimension of empathy and understanding. If a customer experiences a vulnerability such as bereavement, ill health, divorce, fraud or financial difficulty, their journey can be overlaid with a new experience lens adds this new dimension. This embeds the ability to identify and trigger the appropriate support and sensitivity for that customer’s circumstances.

Thanks to our input, Handelsbanken now have customer personas which include vulnerability scenarios. These personas are a valuable tool for Service Designers and Product Owners, helping to build empathy with customers under both good and difficult circumstances. They can be extended for different audiences, and are supported and driven by robust and ongoing research.

vulnerability and persona mapping documentation

Prioritising and planning changes to meet the demands of Consumer Duty

Each of the bank’s products has a nominated Product Owner. We helped the bank identify the most suitable owner for each product, ensuring the appropriate resource was assigned to every step of the customer journey. In some instances, this involved changes to job descriptions, roles and responsibilities, to ensure all product owners are motivated and empowered to improve customer experience.

Next, we prioritised pain points in order of urgency. We developed the concept of a review panel with senior stakeholders from across the business, to tackle what needed to be done and create a prioritisation roadmap. This process of prioritisation was accepted by everyone involved in the project, right up the highest levels in the bank.

We facilitated these review panels and took the outcomes into ideation. This enabled us to identify solutions to be actioned before the Duty deadline of end July 2023, as well as improvements to be made beyond the deadline. Defining and setting into motion the new governance for service design, incorporating changes to digital systems and staff development and training.

To achieve compliance, Handelsbanken needed a methodical and transparent account of how they worked and made decisions, so at every stage work was thoroughly documented and evaluated. We had to prove we had considered every possible customer journey that was covered by the Consumer Duty legislation. We created a series of templates including a Customer Experience Outcome Evaluation template, detailing what creates a good outcome, what has potential to cause customer harm or bad outcomes, and what may constitute a poor user experience but would not affect compliance.

We created a matrix where we categorised tasks and pain points depending on their urgency. We identified the most urgent pain points that needed to be resolved in time for the Consumer Duty deadline, and put into action a series of quick wins. We also closely tracked other pain points which will be fixed or improved in the longer term.

The project moved quickly, with an intensive programme of work and an unmoveable deadline. We were proud to meet this challenging deadline and deliver outstanding results for Handelsbanken, while working together in true collaborative style.

Service design programme deliverables

We delivered service design mapping, research, prioritisation, and ideation. These findings and deliverables have been handed over to Handelsbanken so they can embed the changes within their organisation and communicate them to individual branches, customers and other departments. We’ve taken each of the bank’s services and products and mapped them into a framework that will build and deepen the relationship with customers, from the day they come on board with the bank, right through to ending the relationship.

Deliverables were created collaboratively with the involvement of many people from across the bank, as well as from customer research input, thus affecting organisational change.

The insights gathered throughout this process have been collated into a detailed repository of information that Handelsbanken can refer to and further analyse at any time. It includes context and guidance, links to notes and sources, case studies, artefacts, and much more.

The mapping and visualisation of customer journeys is fully documented, and Handelsbanken teams now have an atlas of information available about everything the bank does, for them to carry forward into the future.

Diagram the presents Handelsbankens approach to human centred service design

Outcomes and results

In summary, our work with Handelsbanken, which followed our E.V.I.D.E.N.C.E. framework for service design, provided the following outcomes:

Discovery and mapping to inform a scalable customer journey framework

  • Identified 54 products as being in the scope of Consumer Duty. 
  • Identified 99 customer journeys covering these 54 products and associated services, and grouped them into a bespoke Atlas visual, covering all customer lifecycle stages of engagement. 
  • Developed a research methodology to establish and validate required insight 
  • Conducted qualitative interviews with 34 customers across various branches of Handelsbanken. 
  • Defined, created and validated 8 persona groups across private and small/medium corporate sectors. 
  • Created 5 vulnerability lenses, covering vulnerable characteristics relevant to the customer base. 
  • Designed bespoke templates and mapped the 99 customer journeys. 
  • Identified 375 pain points for customers, of which 128 were classified as having potential to cause to cause customer harm. 
  • Ran ideation sessions to establish solutions for the 128 priority areas to address. 
  • Developed a customer-centred framework, ensuring compliance to Consumer Duty. 

Training and support to embed the framework into operational business-as-usual

  • Developed a cross-bank operating methodology towards the operational work involved. 
  • Trained 103 bank staff around customer-centred design. 
  • Created a ‘customer testing framework’ for the whole bank to use to test changes prior to release to live. 
  • Provided a digital customer centred knowledge base, which would provide the foundation for ongoing continuous improvement internal work. 
  • Advised and contributed to Handelsbanken’s liaising with the FCA surrounding compliance work. 
  • Engaged across all tiers of the banks management, departments, teams and projects to embed the customer-centric ethos with methodologies becoming embedded into bank governance. 

Handelsbanken stated: “It is now over to us in the Experience Design Team and our collaborators, to keep the customer design light shining bright. I am proud of the way our teams integrated and worked together, relentlessly paving the path for the 99 journeys – all completed within time and budget.”

Key stats


Increase in operating profits to £476.4m (Jan – Dec 2023)


Increase in total income to £918.2m (Jan – Dec 2023)


Customer journeys mapped for 54 products & services

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