Building Beyond Bricks & Mortar

User-centered design principles can aid Financial Services companies looking to build beyond their bricks & mortar footprint. Products, processes, and systems need to be crafted through a customer-centric lens. This means adopting more of a Fintech mindset and culture, placing a premium on the digital customer experience and developing new business models. Here are four ways to apply user-centered design today.

  1. The User Journey: Develop an understanding of the current physical and digital interaction points and their purpose. Meeting with an advisor or making a payment can take very different forms depending on the medium. Simply replicating an in-person experience online doesn’t work. Digital first customers expect brands to be available at all times, in their pocket wherever they are, and for whatever service they need. They still have the same transactional needs and questions to be answered as in-person customers, but want them delivered in a novel, modern way. Analyzing and benchmarking experiences against other industries can be a great way to uncover opportunities in the financial user journey.
  2. General vs. Specialized: The evolution of general, department, and even convenience stores has been driven by changing consumer tastes and demands over a century.  A similar evolution has been happening in digital financial retail approaches at a lightning pace. Branch-like storefronts can be a great operations construct for a multi-product retail experience. However, much of Fintech has grown dramatically by focusing intently on the customer experience and tech functionality of a single product: payments or lending or investments. While large firms have been hoping for the “grand consolidation” of these under a single brand, site, or app, many customers are choosing focus and simplicity over complicated all-in-one. Striking the right balance based on the target audience and business goals is critical.
  3. Paradox of Choice: Shifting from bricks & mortar to digital first often involves the “paradox of choice”. Simply put, the more choices a firm puts in front of a customer, the more difficult making a decision can become. Per a recent report from Javelin Research, only about ⅓ of applicants opened and completed a financial account application exclusively through online channels. Providing too many choices or requiring too much information upfront can lead to “cart abandonment”. Guided sale approaches that personalize the experience, with education at every stage, can improve these conversion rates, along with recommendation engines that simplify choices based on similar behavioral profiles.
  4. In The Field: Sales tools are an often overlooked opportunity for bridging the gap between bricks & mortar and customer self-directed activities. Sales personnel can be empowered with digital tools to connect with customers, allowing research and paperwork to start in advance, saving in-person time for building real relationships. Marketing assets can be personalized and recommendations supported with dynamic tools to answer questions on the fly.
  5. Iterate Relentlessly: User-centered design is supported by a build, test, evolve methodology to capture and act upon insights from behavior. Whether applied to campaigns, products, or storefronts, rapid iteration is a staple of top performing firms. This may require new ways of thinking internally and adjustments to traditional development and compliance cycles, especially in Financial Services, but the benefits of “failing fast” and scaling what works are well worth the investment.

Zemoga has been a creative technology partner to leading Financial Services firms for over 15 years.  We’ve helped firms large and small improve their digital marketing, products, sales tools, and customer service experiences. If you’d like to learn more about our proven approach, please reach out