Wolf, Goat and Cabbage: The Digital Customer Experience Riddle

Disjointed digital customer experiences are causing banking and insurance customers to flee in record numbers

Building compelling, digital customer experiences that are validated by analytics is the key to successful digital transformation strategies… and a vexing challenge for banks and insurance companies facing ever-stronger challenges from fintech and insurtechs. The fact that so few succeed in retaining existing clients and attracting new ones – the current success rate is a mere 30% – suggests either a strategy problem, an implementation problem, a marketing problem, or a combination of all three.

Put another way, while digital transformation is the key to creating optimal, scalable digital customer experience solutions, the 70% failure rate suggests that banks and insurers are finding it to be a confounding brain teaser.

The Farmer’s Riddle

Let’s look at the problem differently: consider the 700-year-old “Wolf, Goat, and Cabbage Problem,” from “The Ormesby Psalter,” a medieval manuscript in the University of Oxford's Bodleian Library, one of the earliest examples of what modern mathematicians call “river-crossing puzzles.”

Medieval text sheds a light on digital customer experience

In it, a farmer lives on the west side of a river across from a small town where he does his shopping.  After shopping one day, he needs to transport a wolf, a goat, and a sack of cabbage across the river to his home, and — with only a small, two-person rowboat — can only take one at a time.  His problem is that if he leaves the wolf and the goat alone, the wolf will devour the goat; likewise, if he leaves the goat and cabbage alone, the goat will eat the cabbage. So how can the farmer transport all three safely across the river with no adverse outcomes?

What does this riddle have to do with digital customer and experience and the customer journey? Read on to see how the answer parallels solving for complex CX challenges and digital customer experience strategy.

The Digital Customer Experience Riddle: Pillars of a Seamless Customer Journey

Companies attempting build analytics-based customer experiences as part of their digital transformation strategies or applied intelligence efforts face a similar three-headed conundrum. In the case of banks and insurers, the principal actors are:

  1. People — your most valuable source of experiential knowledge, reasoning and decision-making; their unique business domain knowledge and technical subject matter expertise are your greatest differentiator to create a compelling digital experience.
  2. Processes – ensure an all-encompassing enterprise workflow, by consolidating, integrating, and optimizing decision steps across the organization.
  3. Technology — eliminates data silos that create decisioning blind spots or missed opportunities, providing everything-to-everything-else data connectivity that leaves legacy applications intact, but exposes and synergizes all their customer information  from various digital channels.

But these three don’t exist in a vacuum and, in fact, come at the expense of the other. Often banking and insurance companies trying to design effective digital customer experiences find that they pose a Farmer’s Riddle of their own:

  1. If you only succeed in the People and Process areas – without the right Technology – your customer experiences, strategies, and decisions will be overly manual, slow, error-prone.
  2. If you only succeed in the People and Technology areas – without the right Processes – your customer experiences, strategies, and decisions will be automated, but disjointed and disorganized.
  3. If you only succeed in the Process and Technology area – without the right insights from your People – your digital customer experiences, strategies, and decisions will be automated, but lacking the heuristic knowledge of your human domain experts.

Together, these form the digital transformation version on the “iron triangle,” the persistent, symbiotic relationship in which all three parties or elements are mutually interdependent upon on another for their combined success. Balancing and continually calibrating the People + Process + Technology formula is the only way to achieve proficiency in building scalable enterprise decisioning solutions, as well as the compelling banking and insurance digital customer experiences that result. 

Getting Started on the Digital Experience

How does a bank or insurance company beat the odds in setting a winning digital transformation strategy and creating game-changing digital customer experiences for their clients? The journey begins with five steps, all facilitated by FICO Platform and its flagship solution, Enterprise Intelligence Network, which enable companies to leverage their applied intelligence and empowers them to achieve five incremental milestone toward digital transformation:

  1. Implement a scalable decision solution across the enterprise to unify and mobilize the enterprise; a platform connects the dots and fills in the holes in decisioning strategies to ensure better decisions at every point of customer experiences across the lifecycle.
  2. Combine the “book smarts” of the technology organization with the “street smarts” of business users, having them work together to build and test decisioning scenarios, fostering a market-driven approach to client solutions CX, and customer service.
  3. Identify, leverage, curate and re-use connected decision assets to create customized, targeted decisioning strategies that are consistent, transparent, explainable and expandable as needed over time.
  4. Simulate and optimize strategies before they are put into production, to get the highest possible degree of certainty that programs will perform as desired when launched, to ensure optimal, predictable results, and to maximize success rate and ROI.
  5. Ensure automated, seamless, personalized customer experiences across all digital channels: armed with both business savvy and technical precision, hyper-personalization enables companies to provide compelling customer services and most effectively serve their clients’ immediate and future needs, paving the way for cross-selling and up-selling.

Taken together, these are the keys to creating analytics-based digital customer experiences that raise short-term customer satisfaction and loyalty, as well as long-term customer retention and share-of-wallet.  And all the while keeping the People/Process/Technology iron triangle in balance.

Answer to the riddle:

  1. First, the farmer puts the goat in the boat and rows to the west side of the river, leaving the wolf behind with the bag of cabbage. He drops off the goat and returns alone to the east side.
  2. He puts the wolf in the boat, leaving the bag of cabbage behind, and rows to the west side; he drops off the wolf, but puts the goat back in the boat and rows back to the east side.
  3. He drops off the goat and puts the cabbage back in the boat, leaving the goat behind, and rows to the west side; he leaves the cabbage with the wolf, and rows back alone to the east bank to pick up the goat and bring him to the west side where all four are united.

See How FICO Can Help You Improve Your Digital Customer Experiences

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