Day two of Mad*Pow’s annual Financial Experience Design (FXD) conference featured a mix of keynotes, fireside chats, interactive sessions and panels covering topics from Designing with Responsibility to Behavioral-based Design to Operationalizing Transformation.
Michael Kirkpatrick, Mad*Pow’s Senior Vice President of Client Experience & Strategy
Michael kicked off day 2 of FXD asking “Why not us?” If the financial industry’s relationships with customers have never been more personal, why do 79 percent of customers see their relationship with financial companies as transactional? Contrast that with companies like Target, where customers feel like they are seen as a person. Michael reminded us that we have the capacity to design and build outstanding experiences that resonate with customers.
Keynote: Stephen Gates, InVision
Stephen’s high-energy keynote theme of “Let’s be truly honest with each other” set the tone for the entire day at FXD. The universal truths shared included the contention that we are all struggling to breakthrough and affect our entire company. A recent InVision study found that high experience design companies ship more, for less money, and have a high company valuation. He contends that good companies acknowledge and deal with their problems. They hire smart people and let them do their jobs. They let people fail, and then learn from those failures. Stephen’s teams celebrate their “Bellyflop of the Week” by discussing who made the biggest mistake and what they will do differently next time. “Creating change is like falling in love. It doesn’t happen all at once. Instead, it’s lots of little things that add up to something big.”
Drive Innovation with Strategic Design
Keynote: Joseph Smiley, E*TRADE
Joseph described the key issue with design: It is rarely used beyond the creative department. His suggestion to fix that? Companies must establish a design culture, embracing empathy and utilizing design methodologies for all initiatives in all departments. He encouraged attendees to spread design broadly through their organizations by educating their teams so they are prepared to lead other departments. Show others what’s possible via collaboration. “Be opportunistic and say yes or volunteer for all opportunities that come your way.” His vision of success includes respect for design from corporate leaders, an understanding of how to apply design principles in organizations, business school courses that focus on the importance of design and thriving design cultures that span any corporate silo.
Always Be Onboarding
Fireside Chat: Laurie McLachlan, Digital Onboarding, and Michael Kirkpatrick, Mad*Pow
When Michael recently sampled the onboarding processes from various retail banks, he was astounded at the complexity and unintuitive processes he was expected to navigate. Laurie was not surprised at his challenges, noting that abandonment rates for account applications are around 90 percent. This process is key for retail banks, as customers use the onboarding process as a measure of how easy the company will be to work with. Laurie underscored how important first impressions are for retail banks. “Companies need to make those first 60 to 90 days as easy as possible without cross-marketing. Nail the relationship to earn the opportunity to offer more.” She suggests that banks use behavioral psychology to promote customer engagement with accounts. Instead of incentives, banks can invest in design that creates an emotional connection – with real tools that improve people’s lives.
Designing with Responsibility: Creating Ethical and Inclusive Solutions
Keynote: Andy Vitale, SunTrust Bank
Andy thinks that design is a superpower. Designers can make things better and have an exponential impact. However, designers can also create a lot of harm when they design features without understanding their capabilities or the harm they can cause. He shared examples of past design failures – the introduction of the first credit cards and mortgage redlining. He stressed that unintentional mistakes are not an excuse. We must test our products and services with those we’re designing for. He encourages designers to embed responsibility into their process by prioritizing usability, creating equitable and flexible solutions, having good intentions, being willing to be proven wrong when making assumptions, being data-informed, tolerating mistakes, being people-centered and embracing diversity. “Design gives marketing a soul.”
The Era of Multimodal Design
Keynote: Marti Gold, SiriusXM
Multimodal interfaces seamlessly integrate two or more senses when interacting with a system. Examples include smart displays that use voice, sight and touch. Marti discussed the pros and cons of devices that use only voice or only sight, and how they will soon be eclipsed by multimodal versions. She emphasized the need to optimize content for these devices, with a focus on accessibility. “Even though you may be designing a multimodal application, the user should be able to complete the entire task using either voice or vision.” She advises that designers plan for three times the normal time for testing, including contextual and field testing. Additionally, organizations should be prepared for an update right after launch. “No matter how carefully you test, there’s a 99.99 percent probability that users will need something you didn’t include.”
Designing Choices: Strategies for Simplifying Financial Decisions
Keynote: Rob Gifford, Mad*Pow
Rob started with his why for simplification. Choices are increasing everywhere. And people like choice because it gives them autonomy, helping them feel more invested and confident. However, people overestimate their ability to analyze options. They often end up with choice overload. “How do we account for human limitations when there are a complex set of options and a lack of knowledge and preferences?” Rob’s strategies to simplify include orienting customers to their options by offering less than seven options at a time, making options distinct, using clear succinct labels and visualizing differences. Additionally, companies can increase customer expertise by eliminating jargon, using scenarios that bring concepts to life, providing rules of thumb and scenario modeling.
Mindset of Young Investors
Fireside Chat: Kelly Lannan, Fidelity Investments, and Jen Briselli, Mad*Pow
Kelly and Jen helped set the stage for their talk by defining what a “young investor” is, exactly (people under 35 years old). As for what “young investor mindset” means, Kelly shared that this segment typically prioritizes paying down student loan debt and credit cards over saving for retirement; they spend more on experiences than material things; social media often spurs them to overspend in an effort to keep up with their friends; and when they do invest, they are often risk-averse. To create better products for young investors, Kelly pointed to successful apps like Robin Hood, Acorns and Mint, because they simplify the experience, provide free trades and clarity around their fees, and integrate short-term and long-term goals for users. Jen advised that it’s important to create a solid relationship with young investors, leading with education, before cross-selling to them. Most of all, keep in mind that this audience, even if they have retirement accounts, do not consider themselves “investors.”
Orchestrating Multi-Channel Touchpoints to Deliver Great CX
Fireside Chat: Vanessa Jupe and Rita Arens, H&R Block
Vanessa and Rita brought their unique H&R Block perspective to this discussion, as they are working within the company to design exceptional experiences for customers both online and in its brick-and-mortar stores. The first obstacle they had to overcome was the concern that digital would cannibalize business from stores. When they realized that their audience was looking for different experiences from each channel, they were able to drill down to the preferred mix of human and digital experiences. One early lesson in how not to work with digital clients was the company’s 24/7 help options. With chatbots, search capabilities, and other online resources competing for users’ attention online, they found that customers were overwhelmed with help. Instead, the company revised its website to guide customers to the kind of help they needed in the moment. Meanwhile, the stores capitalized on their reputation as tax professionals who support a deeper interaction with customers beyond the typical online transaction. “Data tell what is happening, but not why,” said Vanessa. “It’s up to designers to make the experience easier and faster, but still inspire confidence.”
Creating and Nurturing Design Culture
Keynote: Christine Berglund, CapitalOne
Christine began her talk with a deeply personal anecdote about how her daughter’s health issues taught her about the importance of curiosity when it comes to creating a successful design culture. The first key to success is trust – creating an environment based on respect over the fear of looking stupid. Next, add frank and honest conversation with a shared language and plenty of room for questions. Critique is also important to strengthen design and services, with an iterative spirit that encourages reflection and help from peers. Of course, a vision is critical to nurturing design culture – a mission statement, customer definitions, and team and experience principles provide way-finding during each project. Next, understandable norms help projects stay on track – setting standards for tactical, creative and human expectations. Finally, mutual support creates a playground for curiosity by instilling values of relentless curiosity, whimsy and comfort with ambiguity. “Feed curiosity, as it is the acorn that can grow into an oak.”
Interactive Session: Moderated by Mad*Pow
Creating personas was the objective of this interactive session from Mad*Pow, featuring mock interviews, persona-creation tools, and UI scavenger hunt. Generally speaking, a persona is defined as one’s way of being in the world. Designers use personas to represent key audience types, including who they are and what they need. Pitfalls to avoid when creating personas are basing them solely on demographics, as this can promote stereotypes that don’t tell what users need, how they may react, or why they do what they do. Instead, behavior-based personas allow designers to envision how the audience will use a product and how to support their needs. The interactive session featured MPACT, Mad*Pow’s persona-building framework that provides an understanding of human behavior and the power of play to design better products and services. After working with a team to critique screenshots of a budgeting app for our assigned persona, attendees saw that it's personality that makes each persona unique, not demographics.
Innovation Labs Are Not Really About Innovation
Fireside Chat: Natasha Barrientos, John Hancock, and Dusan Kolijensic, Fidelity Labs
The past year has seen many companies quietly closing their innovation labs. How did these once headline-grabbing initiatives lose their luster? Dusan shared that most innovation labs suffered from a lack of ROI for companies. When design thinking isn’t an integral part of a company’s culture, expectations for new products and public relations wins aren’t grounded in reality. “Plus, creating new products that are profitable is hard,” said Dusan. Natasha added that most innovation labs are aiming too small – they need to be thinking about how to scale ideas and methodologies. “The persona exercise shows how just a small amount of user research can affect product development and success. We need to step back and ask, ‘Are we even building the right thing?’” Dusan recommended establishing an innovation mindset across organizations through grassroots user-testing parties that allow other people in the company to provide feedback on a product, then enrolling interested colleagues in future design collaborations.
Building a Behavior Change Practice
Fireside Chat: Neesha Mathur, Prudential; Dustin DiTommaso, Mad*Pow, and Jesse Strawbridge, Mad*Pow
This chat covered a new approach for product development and customers that helps people make decisions and follow through on them. To provide value to an organization, behavior change practices help teams understand the factors that encourage behavior in an audience, including the data points that can be used to change behaviors. Neesha emphasized that behavioral science can help organizations understand where to go next when developing new products and services. Dustin recommended building a behavior change team from scientists and human-centered designers like statisticians, data scientists, social scientists, academics and researchers. “Find people with a curious mindset, who are humble-thinking,” said Neesha. “Also, let people in your organization start to learn on their own.” Finally, attendees were cautioned to rely less on incentives. “Research shows that incentives are good for initiation, but then users acclimate to the reward, not the benefit of the action. We need to focus on building intrinsic motivation instead,” said Dustin.
Organize for Design and Innovation
Fireside Chat: Vijay Hanumolu, Unum, and Michael Hawley, Mad*Pow
When creating an organization for design and innovation, the transformation starts with a global CEO. According to Vijay, the transition to digital cannot be limited to IT, it must be organization-wide via a cultural shift. He also emphasized that design doesn’t have to mean expensive, resource-intensive projects. “It’s easy to create prototypes without coding.” When working to change existing mentalities about “digital,” usability studies can help – especially when teams focus on developing products and services that help those with disabilities. It’s important to embed designers in product teams because design knowledge is so important. “Nurture design. Be gardeners, not gatekeepers.”
Panel: Martin Davis, USAA; Robert Scott, formerly of Citizen’s Bank, and Scott Furlong, State Street Global Advisors
While the panel began its discussion in agreement that the term “transformation” is overused, each participant still had plenty to say on the topic. Scott stressed that transformation without a human element is just technology. Martin discussed the need for design teams to be user friendly internally to create net promoters from within. Robert also encouraged attendees to work outside of their typical silos so designers can speak to all products. “Imagine being able to see where a customer had been on your company’s website and then working with them to determine what they were trying to achieve (and then selling the appropriate product).” According to Scott, “Collaboration creates investment. Choose key areas to execute and have others asking, ‘Why aren’t we doing this other business lines?’” Martin agreed, adding “Companies can be overly complicated. It’s important to strike a balance between helping people and finding where they want to do it on their own.”
Where is the Bar? Raising the Bar for Design in Financial Services
Keynote: Brian McLaughlin, Bottomline Technologies
As the Chief Experience Officer at Bottomline Technologies, Brian has witnessed many examples of organizations lowering the bar on quality experiences. “Yes, the industry may be clearing the bar, but if it’s set low, everything is pulled down.” Problems like industry complexity, regulations, security, compliance, usage issues, and more, mean that most teams spend their time on outliers instead of universal problems. “I don’t have a roadmap or script for you. I can only reassure you that holistic experiences, when encountered, are human and helpful.” So, who is setting the bar? If it’s not the customer, it’s up to designers to do it on their behalf with the tools and technology available.
Michael Kirkpatrick, Mad*Pow
Michael closed the day with gratitude for all of the speakers, attendees and vendors who created a successful FXD 2019. He encouraged everyone to continue to collaborate and share ideas beyond this two-day event, and to prepare for FXD 2020 next fall