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User-centred design is transforming finance

Financial services must deliver a perfect user experience to survive in a user-centred economy

Debprotim Roy
founder and CEO,

The Harvard Business Review released an exclusive issue in September 2015 called ‘Design Thinking Comes of Age’. The publication elaborated on the use and outcomes of user-centric design across industries. Since then, user-centred design has become part of the popular discourse and gained significant traction across business sectors.

Today, designing a product or service in the financial services industry around customer experience calls for employing best practices to the design and prototype process to render an intuitive, easy and satisfying service.

For the banking and finance industry, that faces new technologies, disruptive business models and evolving user behaviours, it’s no longer enough to merely sell a financial product or service—the financial sector must genuinely engage their customers.

Design at the strategy level

Three significant challenges face the finance industry today:

  • New and changing regulations
  • Fintech and innovation
  • Lack of trust

User centric design aims to meet all of these. Building and standardising design functionalities and service-design toolkits across the company can cover these challenges.

When designing a service, designers must be a vital component at the strategic level. In doing so, a strategy-driven design can help build a common language to deliberate on design decisions. This advantage can further extend into every step of the process. Involving designers at the strategic level can help banks and financial companies to deliver a goal-oriented final product with a focus on user experience.

Millennials and technology

The new generation of investors is increasingly doing the legwork themselves when analysing investments, making decisions and executing trades. Within this generation, a growing majority are preferring the accessibility and ease of online banking, while at the same time, wanting direct control over how and where their money is going.

Globally, an upsurge in digitally-focused brands and open banking are making forward-thinking financial companies think that user experience is now a strong differentiator in the lines of price or brand loyalty. Until the rise of Uber and Airbnb, digital user-experience was somewhat overlooked mainly in the financial services sector. Today, as consumers are increasingly demanding digitally-managed finances, banks and financial companies are realising the importance of optimising their online and mobile offerings.

The influx of new players—especially the NBFC space that are delivering products and experiences, keeping the customer in mind—has helped the banking sector to adopt streamlined, user-centred, design principles.

Why design matters?

At its very core, user-centric design is about enhancing products and services to improve customer satisfaction and offer a secure experience. Adding this to the financial sector, banks can achieve positive user experiences by adapting to their customers’ definite financial and customer service needs with intuitive, efficient and accommodating user-centric designs.

Central to any omnichannel development, a user-centred design focuses on a customer’s journey to generate growth through change. Since it is established that a consumer buys with emotion, justifies their logic and takes action when it is easy, a user-centric design can capitalise on these opportunities and improve the consumer experience.

Getting the best from design in the financial services space

The intrinsic principles of user-centric design, today, are more pertinent than ever; they go back to end-users, profoundly understand their demands and concerns and raise a holistic digital eco-system to enable the desired customer experience.

To make the most of user-centric design and have a positive impact on customer experiences, it can help to look into three simple steps. These are:

  1. Empathising with customers: Every company must introspect and know what it is to take a walk in their customers’ shoes. Rather than designing current products and services based on past results, gauging trends to predict where consumers will go next, or executing fragmented new technologies, the financial services industry has a solution at their disposal—applying a user-centric approach to transform their digital products and services. Regardless of whether is it resolving customer issues, enhancing digital channels, or discerning new opportunities, a user-centric design puts customers at the forefront.
  2. Employing flexible tools and options: A user-centric design can make product or service interactions more achievable, fruitful, advantageous, and thus more in demand. It is vital to stay on guard and become familiar with changes in customer preferences, disruptive players from non-financial spaces, and constantly-changing regulations.
  3. Getting much-needed support: It is now more imperative than ever for banks and financial institutions to leverage a more consultative approach. There are several barriers to embracing digital:
  • Inadequate resources
  • Competing internal priorities
  • Insufficient buy-in from stakeholders
  • Cultural barriers
  • Lack of creativity and innovation
  • Inadequate vision, documentation and ROI

In this regard, seeking inspiration from designers to help build a comprehensive digital solution can enhance customer experience and profitability. Getting designers on board at the strategy level can bridge gaps and positively impact the retention and growth of the business.


The objective of every design process at the strategic level must be to bring out a finished goal-oriented product or service, focusing on customer experience. Eventually, this can help build a better final product for both the company and its customers. In sum, a user-centric design and customer journey mapping are imperative to explore the user journey. They can lead to ideas and innovations and take the company and customer experiences to the next level with decreased risk, and a structured plan for measurable success.

Debprotim Roy is founder and CEO,

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