CX Innovators: Why Oxygen wants to create the best CX on the planet

How one challenger bank plans to set the bar for great customer experience

For Aakash Shah, SVP and Head of Operations at Oxygen, the goal is simple: Provide the best customer experience on the planet.

It’s not enough to be the best in a category like digital banking, he says, because your customers are judging you based on every brand experience they have. “You have to be better than Netflix, than Amazon, than Apple.”

So, planet it is.

It’s an ambitious goal for the young company, but Shah is confident that Oxygen has the right mission and mindset to make it happen—from the top, Founder and CEO Hussein Ahmed, down to the individual customer support associates answering customer calls and chats.

When you’re trying to be the best in the world, where do you start?

“A perfect customer experience begins with no help needed,” says Shah. “Our job is to make sure we keep raising the standards and always improving experiences so a customer can use our product and services as intended—without help.”

That’s kind of the Apple approach of designing elegant experiences, but Shah recognizes that no matter how well-designed, there will always be some reason a customer might need to talk to someone. And it shouldn’t be hard for them to connect, he notes.

“You better make it easy to resolve the issue on the first interaction. And, then you have to go back to that upstream experience to figure out why this isn’t something we’re solving for before the customer needs us.”

He points to in-app address changes as an example. Initially, customers couldn’t change their addresses, phone numbers or email in Oxygen’s mobile app, which was driving up inquiries to the contact center. Frequent or fast profile changes, such as shortly after onboarding, can be a sign of fraud, which prevented Oxygen from offering this option in the app. However, Shah notes that Oxygen was creating roadblocks for good customers that were contrary to the mission of creating the best possible customer experience.

Putting multiple third-party identity verifications systems in the background enabled more customers to pass in-app authentication, combatting an estimated 20% false positive rate and improving the customer experience at the same time. And if a fraudster does slip through that initial check, Shah says Oxygen has other controls in place to spot them. The company was able to go from 1,000 profile-change support inquiries a month to virtually 0.

That’s just one of the features that helped Oxygen win Best Overall Fintech App at the 2021 Fintech Breakthrough Awards in March. Targeting digital natives who are seeking a better consumer banking experience as well as sole proprietors and SMBs, Oxygen also incorporates tools like LLC creation and expense management, and the ability to manage both personal and business finances from directly within their app.

But, Shah says, to be at the forefront of customer experience, you can never be satisfied.

What you’re doing today will be table stakes tomorrow

“You never really reach the pinnacle of customer experience,” he explains. “The only way to deliver the best in the world is to continually innovate.”

“Whatever you’re doing that’s incredible today, will be boring tomorrow because everyone will be doing it.”

Another area Oxygen is looking to streamline is unauthorized transactions. The digital banking provider has begun testing a solution by which they proactively block transactions that match known fraud ring activity before a customer is even aware of the charges.

Aakash Shah

Empowering associates with technology, trust

In instances where self-service isn’t optimal, particularly, when you’re looking for a more personalized experience, Shah says that’s best delivered by humans. “Even with all of the digital adoption we’re seeing, human connections are more revered services.”

Since joining Oxygen in January, Shah’s been on a technology push, investing in tools that help customers reach customer support in less than 30 seconds (UJET) and that help associates serve customers as quickly and as easily as possible (Salesforce).

“Delivering the best customer service on the planet means you have to deliver the best employee experience on the planet,” he says. “We’re investing in the easiest way for customer support associates to service the customer in a single system that then creates a better experience for our customers.”

Making an associate’s job easier is just one aspect of creating a great employee experience. Another key element is showing them you trust them and value their insights.

The San Francisco-based startup is in the process of rolling out two programs to demonstrate to customer support associates how important they are. The first, “Are You Kidding Me?” is about encouraging associates to share those moments either in the customer journey or in their own servicing journey that just aren’t working.

Are you kidding me, I have to login to five systems to help the customer?

Are you kidding me, the customer can’t do XYZ on their own?

But keeping a record of those moments is only the first step. You have to put them in front of senior leadership and act on them, Shah adds.

The second program is Certified by Associate. Before Oxygen launches new products or program features, associates will have a chance to weigh in on them. “You can design what you think will be a slick technology or a seamless experience, but operations and technology don’t always connect,” Shah says. “Who better to understand the real-world implications and what the customer really wants and needs than someone who talks to them hundreds of times a day?” Associates will have monetary and career growth incentives to participate and elevate the Certified by Associate program.

Why invest in customer service?

Earlier this year Oxygen closed a $17 million funding round, which was on the heels of revenue increase of more than 1,000%. To keep the momentum going, the company is doing something Shah says is unusual in fintech—investing in customer service.

“Fintechs don’t invest in customer support,” he continues. “They think a lot of about the front-end experience, but they don’t spend a lot of time on what happens when your card gets blocked, or you get locked out of your account.

“What we’ve found is that customer service actually drives revenue,” he explains. “Customer service is the differentiator.”

Oxygen also wants to compete on security. “If you focus on high customer volume to make up for rampant fraud, it becomes a real a trust buster,” Shah says. “Earning customer trust is different from earning their business, and we believe earning and keeping customer trust happens with customer support and with the intelligence of your security experiences. If we can do both of those well, then we can beat out other challengers and the incumbents, who often make things too hard for good customers in the name of security.”

No matter what you’re trying to accomplish, you have to create an organization that learns, according to Shah. “You must create deliberate processes that look back in time, document what you did right and wrong and how. If you did something right, what is your future plan to double down on it? And if you did something wrong, what is your future plan to never run into that again?

“Innovation and great CX cannot be built on good intentions. You must have the DNA of self-learning.”

CX Innovators is a blog series showcasing Ubiquity partners who are dedicated to creating exceptional customer experiences.

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