Oakam is a UK financial lender catering to the ‘under banked’ – people who struggle to get credit from high-street banks. Its vision is to create a brighter future for the financially excluded with an emphasis on flexibility and fairness, and by providing transparent products without late fees.
With more than 20 physical branches, and a strong offline presence, Oakam wanted to extend the digital arm of its business, starting with a mobile application that would empower customers to better manage their loans personal finances on the move.
Oakam prides itself on being a responsible lender that puts the customer first. A key consideration and measure of success was going to be how this level of offline support and customer service could be brought to the mobile app.
Early research with Else suggested that the in-store Oakam experience was the benchmark for how customers expected to be treated through their digital interactions with the brand.
And so developing the app iteratively and including customers in the design process from the outset was going to be key to delivering a digital product that would successfully meet both the business and customer needs.
Oakam appointed Inviqa to guide its digital growth strategy and develop a mobile application in close collaboration with design agency Else.
We started the project by immersing ourselves into the brand, spending time in the physical stores, with staff and customers, and in the contact centre where we gained first-hand experience of the loan process and of the types of calls coming into the centre.
This approach provided the insight we needed to map the customer experience and identify opportunities to improve and simplify it. And from this Else worked up a number of experience design concepts that would provide tangible value to Oakam and its customers.
Unifying all design concepts was the need to provide customers with full visibility of their loans, plus the ability to reward positive behaviours by progressively reducing interest rates.
Taking an iterative, ‘build, measure, learn’ approach meant that, in just 75 days from inception, an MVP app was available from customers to download.
The first iteration of the app tackled simple but time-consuming administrative tasks for Oakam.
Loan details: Previously customers had to contact the call centre, or go in-store to check their account balance. The app provides customers with up-to-date visibility of their account balance and loan details, with clearly displayed settlement and payment information.
Dual messaging: This area of the app allows customers to contact an assigned Oakam representative. Customers can choose their preferred language and can get the one-to-one support they’d receive in a physical Oakam branch.
Top-up: One of the biggest complaints from Oakam’s customers and staff was the processing time involved in taking out a loan. The second release of the app introduced functionality that reduced this process from days to minutes.
Following iterations of the product aimed to create greater sustainability, a stable credit rating, and to promote the customer rewards programme to improve adoption of the application and unlock better lending rates.
Under the hood the Oakam app was developed using a fast, open-source, hybrid mobile stack. Hybrid technology meant the app could be ported easily across to different operating systems, including iOS and Android, without the application having to be rewritten each time. We chose AngularJS to integrate with Oakam’s backend and deliver a high-performance app capable of handling the demands of thousands of users, and we used a user interface (UI) framework called Ionic to achieve a slick and user-friendly design.
The app exceeded all expectations and was downloaded 2,000 times in just two months – on iOS devices alone.
Key milestones included:
- 20% of active customers using the app just one month after launch
- 5% reduction in calls to contact centre
- 12,000 downloads across Android and iOS 11 months from launch
- Averages 4.5 stars in the App Store in first week of launch
These key performance indicators, together with positive feedback from focus groups and app store reviews, demonstrate how the app is helping Oakam customers to self-manage their finances whilst alleviating pressure on offline customer support channels. Crucially, the app embodies the high standards and support customers have come to expect from the Oakam brand.