There are millions of digital products around us, but most of them do not have their own face, and have no story, all of which makes them boring and confusing. How can we change this situation? Unfortunately, there are no magical killer features
to do so, as others may think. It is more important for us to breathe life into financial services by adding soul to the digital product. Customers deserve humanity, understanding, care and human-centered design.
The best experience comes with a soul
Emotional experience, human-centricity and responsible consumption have become a social trend in today’s digital world. People deepen the quality of life through mindful living, finding happiness in common things and prioritizing genuineness and authenticity.
Therefore, customers want businesses to act sustainable, inclusive and socially responsible. Modern consumers value experiences over things.
Advanced brands use technology to humanize and improve the quality of interaction with the product.
But, digital functionality alone is not enough to delight the inner child; it requires nurturing attention, emotional support and engaging entertainment. We often feel frustrated when interacting with digital products. This is not because they do not help
us solve our problems, but because we do not feel the human touch behind it, which makes us feel lonely and empty.
How did products manufactured by Apple, Nike, Mastercard or Dove become iconic? What’s their secret? Of course, they have stunning designs and are extremely user friendly and well crafted, but there is something more that makes them special─something that
sets them apart from the crowd of competitors.
Apple unleashes our creativity despite the fear of standing out from the crowd.
Nike unleashes our courage to achieve goals we believe in, despite resistance from the world at large.
Mastercard unleashes our desire for priceless experiences, despite the efforts and money involved.
Dove unleashes our real beauty and self-esteem, despite the pressure of adhering to standard beauty stereotypes.
These brands’ messages touch our hearts because they address our human side and inspire us. They perceive customers as humans and treat them in the most humane way possible.
Products with soul allow us to feel differently, thus creating a completely new quality of customer experience. The only way to reach this level is to establish a deep emotional connection with customers and make them feel special.
At financial UX design agency UXDA, we say – to improve the customer experience we need to add soul to finance.
How can you add soul to your product?
Delightful customer experience in financial services does not come just from the use of colors, icons and button placement in the interface. The experience is the result of a design that makes a meaningful statement throughout the customer journey in accordance
with the beliefs of the brand and desires of the clients.
You can’t touch the heart of your customers, if your product doesn’t have a soul. A product’s soul is not something mystical as it might appear to be. There are certain criteria that differentiate products with a soul from ones without one.
Unfortunately, digital technology and data-driven services often tend to treat customers like numbers. This should not be allowed, because people feel it. Prove that your business is more than just making a profit. If we take care of our customers, which
many financial products lack, we can move the financial product from the world of numbers to the world of humans.
Giving back to your community and the environment are no-brainers, when it comes to building your product’s soul. The best way to show people the human side of a company is to run a responsible business. It must be committed to benefiting society, by making
a positive impact on technology, people and the planet.
Tesla empowers sustainable living despite the dominating global oil paradigm.
The NY Times empowers the ability to recognize the truth in a medium dominated by fake news.
The Body Shop empowers natural goods fair trade, by enriching community and nature in a world where exploitation has become part of the supply chain.
We value these products for appealing to our humanity, for allowing us to become the best version of ourselves. Technology can help brands to expand this humanity through global accessibility, instant support and personalization.
According to the Forrester Consulting Thought Leadership Paper Commissioned By Braze, 57% of consumers said they
would be more loyal to a human brand. Human brands enjoy a 19 percentage point boost in how likely they were to be “loved” by customers, outperforming non-human brands by 20 percentage points on “likelihood to recommend.”
Consumers are 17 percentage points more likely to make a purchase or use a service with a human brand and are 22 percentage points more likely to be satisfied overall with a human brand compared to a non-human one. Еmotional indicators, including “responsive,”
“friendly” or “thoughtful,” provided some of the strongest drivers to consumers’ perception that a brand was dealing with them in a human way.
According to Deloitte in this era of heightened consumer expectations,
being “customer-centric” is no longer enough. Building resilient bonds of loyalty means weaving the real inputs and data from customers into the why and how of what your company does and is.
Having a purpose is not just a reflection of product values; it’s a challenge to improve something─experience, people or even the world.
People love products that strive to be more. Let’s take a look at companies that are disrupting industries. They dedicate their work to creating unique, authentic and meaningful products. The soul is closely related to the purpose and value the product brings
to the customers.
In the digital age, things are changing extremely fast. The fastest growing Fintech products have reached millions of customers in just a few years, while traditional financial brands have taken decades to do so.
- Wise delivers money without borders, saving on fees;
- Revolut brings freedom with a sustainable alternative to traditional banks;
- Chime provides accessible banking that makes a profit with customers, not from them;
- Nubank exists to free people from the bureaucracy of the financial system;
- Klarna makes shopping smooth and frictionless for the consumers;
- Finally, our designed BELLA Loves Me is a conversational banking app powered by love in a numbers-driven industry.
We are used to the financial industry being cold and lacking soul, but the aforementioned disruptors have proven otherwise. They brought higher purpose and care to their customers, thereby finding a place in their hearts.
Challengers are not afraid to show customers who they are and what they stand for. The highest customer-centricity you can go for in financial services design is a soul-driven financial product─one that really makes the world a better place for living.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for something.
According to Havas’ global Meaningful Brands® 2019 research, 77% of consumers buy brands that share their values. Meaningful
brands that are viewed as making the world a better place outperform the stock market by 134%.
Accenture Strategy’s global survey of nearly 30,000 consumers found that 62% of customers want
companies to take a stand on current and globally relevant issues like sustainability, transparency and fair employment practices. The closer a company’s purpose aligns to their own beliefs, the better.
Fifty-two percent of respondents have indicated that they prefer brands that believe in something greater than just the products and services they sell. This is also confirmed by a study
by New Paradigm Strategy Group & Fortune, which found that 64% of the US population believes that the company’s primary goal should be to “make the world a better place.”
In today’s highly automated digital world, products with soul have a special appeal. They make emotional connections part of their DNA. By speaking to customers as friends, human-centered services take precedence over ruthless cost optimization (that leads
to robotic interactions).
To establish an emotional connection, we need a product to stand out in customers’ hearts. This requires an emotional touch that resonates with customers’ values and beliefs.
Ninety-four percent of Americans say brand empathy is now more important than ever, according to the study, “The Empathy Imperative: Consumer Percepts On Brand
Empathy Through Pandemic.” In addition, consumers with an emotional connection to a brand have a 306% higher “lifetime value,” meaning they stay loyal to the brand for an average of 5.1 years compared to 3.4 years, and they are more likely to recommend
brands to others (71% vs. 45%), according to Motista.
Get to know your customers as best you can─what they like and what they don’t: events, places, brands, TV shows, blogs, services, etc. It is important to understand their surroundings in order to connect on a personal level and understand what is important
to them. We need to go beyond general target data and resonate with the audience based on the beliefs you both care about. This is how product ambassadors are born.
According to Motista research, emotionally connected customers generate lifetime
revenue nearly six times that of highly satisfied customers. Credit card customers who feel emotionally connected spend 46% more annually than those who are just highly satisfied, and their lifetime value is eight times higher.
Every financial institution wants a highly satisfied customer, but in today’s competitive environment, that’s no longer enough,” explains Scott Magids, CEO of Motista. “Our research shows that, across all categories, an ”emotionally connected” customer generates
52% more annual value than just a “highly satisfied” one.
Stories not only entertain us, but also teach us by providing both role models and danger warnings. This helped people survive throughout evolution. Stories include myths, legends, old wives’ tales, Hollywood blockbusters and even the story of that guy next
door who got sick after consuming mushrooms.
Our consciousness is constantly trying to organize the chaotic information around us into some kind of easily understandable story.
A Story helps us find the right answer and deliver it in an easy way. For example, Google has the answer to everything─algorithms and data; Apple has design and creativity (“with creativity you can change the world, and we give you tools for this”); Nike’s
answer lies in the power of personal achievement that encourages us to become the winner in life; Red Bull empowers life with adrenaline, making every moment count. This answer becomes the main value they provide to the customer, and all the communication
and products build their story around this.
Once you have defined your brand essence, you can construct a powerful story that ties the brand and product assets together and fills them with human experience and imagination. Such a narrative will direct and support company growth for years, sharing
your purpose, values and personality in a clear and emotionally engaging way. Especially during the pandemic, 70% of consumers said brands should boost positivity and share uplifting stories, according to Twitter
research, because people live through stories and want to feel the vibe and get more dopamine.
Who is the main character in your product story? This is not about your product. The hero is your customer, and the product is just an ally, like Yoda for Luke Skywalker.
We are under attack by the clones. Thousands of soulless digital products lacking personality create an ocean of sameness around us. To bring to life a product that has personality, we need to dig deeper and discover the true essence of a financial brand.
Personality is a set of emotional characteristics through which users perceive a product. For example, customers feel that trustworthiness (83%), integrity (79%) and honesty (77%) are the emotional factors that most align with their favorite brands, as indicated
by a Deloitte study.
Products that are assembled from functions that are defined from marketing reports about abstract consumers are unlikely to evoke an emotional reaction. Every tiny detail should express the authenticity of the product. Language, design, layout, style, architecture,
functions and others should reflect the brand’s true identity.
According to Stackla research, 86% of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands
they like and support, but 57% of consumers think that less than half of brands create content that resonates as authentic.
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