Taking a Human-Centered Approach to Measurement

Finance organizations need to change the way they’re thinking about measurement from outputs focused, to a more outcomes focused approach.

The financial industry is undergoing a technological revolution where the use of new tools and data is transforming the way we track the success of our financial offerings and services. As our reporting systems and data capture become more advanced, our ability to track, analyze and report on success metrics has ballooned. But to what end?

It seems that this confluence of technologies has led organizations to become either overwhelmed by data to create hyper-focus on limited metrics, or overuse of data in wide-ranging metrics without clarity of meaning. Both stances have strayed from the “human” side of measurement, where we cannot assess the true impact our financial products, services, and systems have on our customers, users and employees.

If you have sat in meetings to review the latest trend lines for how roll-out has gone and thought, “what does this even mean?” perhaps it is time to ground things back in human-centered outcomes. Instead of making progress for metrics’ sake, we must refocus on progress for outcomes’ sake.

Adopt these principles to ensure your team is tracking toward measures that matter:

  1. Setting Meaningful Goals: Focus on outcomes, not outputs.
    Measurement strategies often track the outputs - or things we do, like accessing websites, entering data, and downloading tools - as measures of success. This may result from the limitations in what we can track, but we can quickly lose sight of the outcomes that these metrics are meant to measure. This can lead to focusing on the wrong things and eventually tracking toward an unsuccessful outcome.

    Human-centered measurement strategies:
    Use qualitative research methods to understand and define the outcomes that matter to customers and to guide the development of metrics that support how they think about it and how that emerges through their behaviors with your products and services. For instance, what does financial wellness - or financial literacy - mean to people, and how does that translate into certain behaviors? For example, Mad*Pow worked with Walmart to pair customer-centered insights about financial wellness and behavior change techniques to develop a financial wellness tool for employees.

    Develop an outcomes-focused logic model to map human-centered outcomes to criteria behaviors, metrics, and data sources. This helps move your focus one more level out - from outputs to outcomes. Mad*Pow unpacks how to transform “digital engagement” into real-world behaviors and outcomes in this webinar.
  2. Evolving Measures in Context: Situate measures in the context of customers’ experiences.
    When measuring progress towards an optimized customer experience, isolated metrics do not provide the full context. You may optimize the wrong things without context around what is happening before or after those metrics are captured. For instance, measuring average call duration might incentivize shorter calls when a customer needs hands-on assistance. By situating our metrics within an understanding of the broader experiences of the people using our solutions, we can better identify the “measurement moments that matter.”

    Human-centered measurement strategies:
    Leverage customer experience maps or journey maps to identify and pinpoint the critical behaviors that signal a shift towards or away from the outcomes we seek. By layering on real-time data to track whether customers are successfully moving through the journey of - say, purchasing homeowners' insurance - you can see where people may be getting stuck or disembarking from the journey. For example, Mad*Pow maximized USAA’s digital portals to modernize their insurance buying process without sacrificing the customer experience.

    Rather than situating measurement strategies around readily available data, start with what would meaningfully track progress toward our goals.
  3. Tailoring to the Organization: Consider organizational structure, behavior, and culture.
    As the saying goes, what gets measured, gets treasured. The way you measure progress shapes and is shaped by your organization. Consider organizational factors like team structure, workflow, performance indicators, and cultural norms to ensure that measurement works with the way you work. Ignoring organizational context can create unintended consequences like individuals prioritizing the wrong outputs to enhance their own performance or reinforcing siloed efforts at the expense of collective success.

    Human-centered measurement strategies:
    Use organization or behavioral frameworks like COM-B and Organizational Levels Model to consider the potential organizational impacts of the measurement approach (e.g., does this shift the capability that our team must have? Does this change the motivators of performance?)

    Collaboratively develop the measurement plan to create a collective vision, support alignment, and ongoing communication of progress. This allows your team to share their perspectives which can influence the design and implementation of measuring progress.
  4. Adapting Measurement Approaches: Embed continuous learning to catalyze lasting impact.
    Just as your customers change and your organization changes, measuring progress needs to support change too. Strike a balance between maintaining a consistent measurement approach to see progress and creating flexibility to adjust how you measure progress as contexts change. Fixed measurement approaches can leave you measuring the wrong goals and slow to adjust and incorporate learnings.

    Human-centered measurement strategies:
    Use measure > learn > iterate cycles to develop a measurement strategy for innovative solutions (e.g., what to test during formative research sessions) or for different iterations of already-developed solutions (e.g., what to test during evaluative research sessions)

    Pressure test and adapt outcomes-focused logic models for changing needs of the customer to ensure you measure what is needed to assess progress

Taking a human-centered approach to measurement connects metrics back to the real-world behaviors and outcomes we are hoping to achieve. Does producing more stuff at a faster speed really produce more business value? It is time to start thinking more human. Reach out to learn more about how Mad*Pow can help your organization become more human-centered through Organizational Design.


Contributed by
Lindsey Messervy
Job Title
Director, Organizational Design & Strategy
Kelsey Werner
Job Title
Senior Experience Strategist