A paradigm shift from retail banking
Banking, Insurance & Real Estate
Insights & Concepts
Innovation strategy
Applied Methods

→ Qualitative user interviews
→ Expert interviews
→ Observations
→ Competitor analysis
→ Service testing
→ Unpacking frameworks
→ Creative brainstorming
→ Rapid prototyping
→ User testing
→ Roadmapping

Digital tools

4 months

A new management team sought a new, customer centric strategy for the bank. They needed an understanding of the pain points of their customers, the competitive landscape, the impact of Fin Tech, market trends and key behaviour to enable them to build innovative user-centric scenarios for the future of banking.
Qualitative research

Qualitative research

Over a time period of four weeks our team of eight interdisciplinary researchers (engineering, design, international development, management and economics) explored the banking landscape in the French and German-speaking regions of Switzerland. They have conducted users and experts interviews, performed undercover visits at the banks’ branches of the client and competitors and looked at attractive non-banking services that could complement the offering of the client.


From our comprehensive empathy work we distilled meaningful key insights and reoccurring patterns and condensed them in various analytical frameworks to drive a human-centred, insight-driven innovation process. We have created Banking Archetypes based on the relevant needs, built customer journeys highlighting the pain-points for each, and mapped out the value streams of the client’s offering.


From our analysis, we brainstormed on possible approaches that the client could follow to innovate. 2-step approach emerged:
a) Neutralising: incrementally improve the costumer experience, match up with competitors and gain selective excellence.
b) Differentiating: developing a radical new business model, acquiring new technology and partner with complementary solution providers to capture all value streams within the housing constellation and become a housing service intermediary.


Based on the developed concept of a service intermediary we created a first rapid prototype in form of mock-up app to quickly convey the idea and elicit useful feedback from customers and experts. The customer housing app (My Casa) incorporated various features, e.g. eligibility calculation, insurance contracting, expense and maintenance management, etc.


In conjunction with the board and our partner Asteroidea we held weekly debriefs - ultimately proposing 2 strategies, incremental & radical - whilst providing the direction for a new and innovative household banking strategy.

"This research opened our eyes and made it evident how today is a crucial time for financial institutions to stay relevant by providing the most superior, consistent and effortless customer experience in order to acquire new, retain existing or win back lost customers. It’s incredible the amount of insights that we have collected and discovered in only 4 weeks of field research!"

Alice Repetti, Business Consultant at Spark Works


user interviews


undercover visits


visits 13 competitor banks


in-depth interviews with FinTech founders


Through a month of intensive customer research we provided the board with many new insights into the journey which customers go through in relation to any banking service or product. These insights and proposed strategies enabled the bank to embrace a vision to become a trusted housing partner that supported customers along the entire value chain.

Project Lead
Alan Cabello
Senior Partner
Alan holds a PhD from EPFL focused on human-centred innovation processes, having been a Visiting Researcher at Stanford’s d.school and a participant at Potsdam HPI’s d.school. He also holds a M.Sc. in Management and a Dip.Eng. in Mechatronics. He is a co-founder of Spark Works, CEO of Sparkademy, sits on the board of a couple of start-ups and lectures at ETHZ.
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