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Why Financial Services Companies Should Apply UX Principles

Date: 22 August 2017

Today’s consumers expect more and more from financial institutions; they want customer-focused digital innovation that creates a personalized, relevant experience. According to a report by Salesforce, less than half (48%) of American consumers trust financial services with their financial information, while only 26% believe their bank has their best interests at heart.1

Financial services companies are coming under increasing pressure to offer a service that is more intuitive, engaging and purposeful – and they are turning their attention to user experience (UX) to do so.

The good news is that finance is ripe with UX opportunities. The bad news is that in an industry not generally associated with innovation and user experience, those opportunities are not always easy to pin down.

The Power of UX

A company’s success is rooted in the strength of its user experience. Several factors go towards creating that experience (e.g. products, services, brand, functionality and people), but the average customer’s experience of UX is generally via a software interface.

Unlike other industries looking to create an interface that is heavy on design and features, financial services want a solution that delivers on functionality first and foremost. Interfaces need to allow users to carry out specific tasks quickly and securely.

Financial services UX designers are designing for a different user than traditional UX designers. They are having to take complex, multi-functional solutions and transform them into user-friendly, intuitive interfaces that can be accessed via multiple platforms and resolutions. The fact that UX is subjective, not objective makes this task even harder.

Putting the Customer First

Perhaps partly due to the rise of fintech startups, financial services companies have recognized the benefits of designing experiences around the user and are turning to digital marketing to achieve that goal.

As more financial services companies switch from a product-centric to a customer-centric approach, they are shaping positive user experiences and services which are as simple as they are enjoyable to use. This requires a shift away from design based on what organizations want consumers to use, towards design that meets the consumer’s needs and expectations.

According to research by Accenture, 52% of consumers switched provider in 2015 due to poor customer service.2 This figure is supported by research from NewVoiceMedia that reveals 50% of customers use a company more frequently after they have had a positive experience.3

Rather than approaching UX via a more traditional push marketing strategy, it needs to be part of a value-generating process. This is more than just convenient, appealing software, it needs to transform the entire financial experience for users.

‘Frictionless’ Customer Journeys

Fintech startups are leading the way in designing great user journeys, and more traditional financial institutions can learn a lot from their approach. The most inspiring fintech UX solutions we are seeing today are lean, yet empowering for the user. They are straight-forward to use, intuitive, transparent and offer value that is easy to consume across an entire audience.

Fintech companies have mastered frictionless UX by eradicating the ‘pain’ of the issue that needs to be resolved. Brian Solis, thought leader in digital marketing and technology believes a frictionless customer journey is crucial to the success of the financial industry. “A ‘delightful’ and frictionless customer experience yields increased customer satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy and customer lifetime value,”4 he claims.

Conversational UX

As banks and financial institutions move towards 24/7 customer service, chatbots, virtual assistants and invisible apps make conversational UX a reality and open up new possibilities of how companies interact with their customers.

However, conversational finance products need to work hard to earn customer trust – after all, most people are reluctant to talk money with humans, let alone machines. According to research by Gartner, by next year 30% of technology-based interactions will be conducted via ‘conversations’ with smart machines.5

These conversations need to be frictionless in order to gain the trust of the consumer. Failure mapping is a proven way to identify pain points along the customer journey, analysing historical data to understand why these failures are taking place. This information can then be used to ensure such glitches do not happen again. Financial services companies are making greater use of failure mapping of late and taking a more strategic approach to UX in the process.

The Quest for UX Talent

While the realities of dealing with legacy systems and a more restrictive regulatory environment present a unique set of challenges, the industry is moving forward. Traditional finance companies have realized they need to up their game in the quest for UX talent and are making a concerted effort to attract UX professionals from creative industries such as media and tech.

The challenge for financial institutions is how to appeal to candidates who are historically drawn towards the buzz of the more creative industries. UX designers enjoy working on creative projects, but projects within banks tend to be more rigid and restricted.

One way banks are tackling this problem is by building in-house digital design functions encouraging designers and developers to work together. For example, BBVA and Scotiabank have created bespoke ‘digital factory’ teams that are solely focused on the customer journey and mobile banking experience.

Financial services UX designers need a number of niche skills to be able to deliver the required results. Experience of working with large data sets, data visualization and Python are some of today’s most in-demand skills which set financial services UX designers apart from other traditional design candidates.

As UX becomes a key driver for financial services solutions, many companies are turning to specialist recruiters like Selby Jennings to help source top talent in this space. To identify the type of support you might need, contact the team today.

References

1 https://www.salesforce.com/assets/2017-connected-banking-customer-report/index.html

2 https://www.slideshare.net/accenture/digital-disconnect-in-customer-engagement

3 https://www.newvoicemedia.com/blog/the-multibillion-dollar-cost-of-poor-customer-service-infographic/

4 http://www.briansolis.com/2017/04/financial-brand-building-better-experience-banking/

5 https://www.gartner.com/doc/3021226/market-trends-voice-ui-consumer

 

 

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