Enabling the capacity to act, by design.

PROJECT Moneypenny

Financial Services Case Study


Client Financial Services
Length of Project
10 weeks
Research, South East Asia, Prototyping, Digital

The Challenge

Vietnam - a rapidly evolving market for financial services, and also a place where knowledge of insurance is nascent. Our client, a leading multinational insurance firm, was trying to balance aggressive growth with quality service delivery. The market had identified their key problem area as high agent turnover rates, leading to large numbers of customers without agents. This had negative repercussions for the company - not just in the service experience provided, but also in lapsed payments, and an overloaded call centre.

Together, the local and regional digital teams asked the question:

How might a large insurance firm play a larger role in the customer relationship, instead of leaving it all in the hands of their agents?

In short: A Rapid Way to Get to a Solid Direction

  • In 10 weeks, we:

    • Reframed our client’s perception of their key problem from a single point on their customers' journey, to a series of unsupported moments across customers' insurance lifecycle(s)

    • Co-created a portfolio of service experiences spanning roles, space and digital; facilitated a prioritisation process

    • Rapidly prototyped a digital tool to give clarity on how it should be built, and what features should be built first

  • Great design research is the quickest way to unearth and express the differences in the way developed and developing countries think about their money - this not just allows us to design actionable, contextual and new solutions for the market but also aligns teams around the customer’s voice.

  • Wizard-of-Oz prototyping is the quickest way to figure out where to start building a solution. What existing apps and tools can be used to hack the functionality of our product? How do we use this to systematically eliminate uncertainties before investing resources into building it?

Our Research

AGENCY spent 3 weeks in 4 cities in Vietnam to find out what a great service experience looked and felt like for customers, by not simply engaging them on financial services, but about their lives. How do they live? What do they aspire to? How do they communicate? What do they value?

Only then were we able to understand how insurance could be contextualised to fit their lives and their needs, when this had been their impression of insurance all along:

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“No one has been able to tell me why it is important. No information speaks to me, and the agents keep calling me three-four times a day! There are no facts. Only sales.”


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“The agent showed me a spreadsheet… I didn’t really understand what she was saying. I just know I have to pay.”


We also learned from our research, in customers' homes and in cafes over coffee, how values like respect, care, trust, reassurance and autonomy were expressed in Vietnam. For example, a sketch concept (used to provoke responses) inspired by the Apple Genius Bar unanimously tested poorly, because the act of serving, of being seen and felt to be reaching out to customers, was seen as being respectful; hence, standing behind the counter was a poor mark of service, regardless of the knowledge that person might possess and be willing to share. Yet customers were also excited by the ability that online tools could give them to learn and do in their own time and space.

AGENCY spent time with just under 50 people in this phase.

The Opportunity

The big opportunity was for our client to design the customer experience across physical, human and digital touchpoints, thereby ensuring consistency of care.

Together, the AGENCY and client team generated a portfolio of service experience solutions that included new roles and spaces, but through rigorous prioritisation, decided to prototype a digital self service tool to decrease reliance on the variable service quality provided by agents.

Our “Wizard of Oz” Prototype

Using role-play, and Zalo (the Vietnamese equivalent of WeChat) and Microsoft Excel to give real-time responses, we set up the prototype in Vietnamese and brought 13 customers and 6 agents and customer care officers through the new self-service experience of making a claim.

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From this prototype, we could recommend to our client

  • How and when to use this tool - when is the right moment in the customer journey to introduce a digital self service tool?

  • Barriers to adoption - the prototype enabled a deeper exploration into mental models around self service

Project references available upon request.
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