Financial UX Series: Discovering Insights Into the Problem

      Posted by Estefania Gual on Aug 22, 2019 in Financial UX Series

      Editor’s note: This post belongs to “Financial UX Series: Targeting World-Class Experiences”, where Product Manager Estefania Gual shares her knowledge on how innovative product design and UX enable a wave of new financial experiences.

      Have you ever had the idea to create a new feature or develop a whole new business? If your answer is yes, you most likely are a product owner, entrepreneur, or even a crazy dreamer. This is more common than it seems, especially in cutting-edge industries such as FinTech. We fall in love with new ideas and are convinced that we can change the world with them.

      There’s always that one moment where someone makes us question our idea: what is the problem that we’ll solve with that? Is there nothing currently on the market that is similar? What’s the added value? How do we transform this into a new revenue stream? Are you sure the team will agree with this new direction? This is the point where half of the population gives up on their idea.

      However, it's essential to think twice about these questions when considering what we want to develop and why. During this period, people would begin to change their point of view and start looking into why. It makes sense, right? It’s not always so obvious, but we need to fully understand the problem before we start thinking about how to solve it.

      “The most serious mistakes are not being made as a result of wrong answers. The true dangerous thing is asking the wrong question.” - Peter Drucker.

      Our level of disruption and how successfully we perform this process is key to creating products that succeed in the financial services market.

      Ensure you are targeting a worthy problem

      Investigating the problem is the first step in creating a product, solution or experience. This is the moment where we understand, empathize, and generate knowledge related to the problem.

      But how do we investigate? Of course, this is not a straightforward answer, and it depends on the desired output.

      “The need of answering unknown questions”.


      generative method

      When the need is to generate knowledge from a high-level perspective, then a generative method that includes identifying goals, needs, and behaviors, fits perfectly. Interviews, focus groups, and surveys are examples of this strategy.

      Imagine that we are trying to develop a new personal financial management solution targeted to ‘enjoylders’, which are people that maintain the same financial level when they retire as when they were young. This is a retail banking user profile that we are not targeting currently at Strands. If we now want to start considering them as a segment to target, we should first dig deeper and understand their context.

      This includes learning what they did to keep their financial level, how they did it, why there are people that are not able to do it, and more. Interviews with retired people would be a perfect way to get a general idea about the topic and identify potential problems.


      evaluative method

      On the other hand, when the goal is to detect specific issues while working on a financial management solution, then an evaluative method is the right one. Lab testing, remote testing, and funnel analysis are examples of this method. This is the case for our current personalized digital money management tools suite since products run in production for years, and one of our goals is always to keep their performance optimal. We want to optimize user journeys as much as possible based on the segment.

      In both cases, the outputs can be insights or numbers, depending on the selected process. Independent of that, any output should help us gain deeper knowledge and extract initial conclusions.

      Financial UX - Strands

      After the first investigation, we have learned about tons of different feelings, ideas, profiles, issues, and more.All of that information could open doors to new directions and numbers of FinTech innovative solutions. But that’s normal since we’re in a discovery phase. This is the time where we need to open our minds and absorb details that can reveal a new angle.

      Putting effort into divergence at the beginning later pays off, as we can converge on added value findings.

      An effective way of synthesizing all the information gathered in the first phase is through an empathy map. The idea is to recap user information into blocks such as:

      • thoughts & feelings
      • speaking & doing
      • hearing & seeing
      • worries & aspirations

      All this data helps us group our potential users and ends up representing different banking customer segments.

      Now that we have an idea about the who and the why, we can break that experience into a sequence of steps. This is called user journey mapping. Combined with the empathy map, it gives us a process to start thinking about user needs, pain points, and opportunities.

      In the case of the user journey, it's useful to analyze both the current experience and the new mobile banking experience that you desire to offer. The user journey map would function as a retrospective map to analyze how users behave in the current context.

      From initial contact, you go through different touchpoints and end up at the post-contact. The idea is to understand the whole relationship process. To do so, we need to list all steps or tasks that our users are experimenting with before, after, and during the process. We can perform this while thinking about a user persona, a customer segment, or even a specific situation, whichever is most useful for each case. Once we have all the tasks, we split them following a horizontal axis. Then, analyze each task, thinking in terms of pain points and opportunities.

      In the end, it is a creative process that lets you rethink the current customer experience, and as a rule, is seen as a worthy catalyst for disruption.

      Understand the output and decide what’s next

      Using user-centered decision-making processes, we can get output that has a deep understanding of the problem and the context of our potential users. Now, we can define and articulate the problem (if it exists). It is also the right moment to pivot if reality doesn’t reflect a pain that could lead to a product roadmap. Never think about pivoting as a mistake, because it reflects deep knowledge, maturity, and courage as you continue looking for disruption.

      The problem becomes the input for the next phase, and the process to execute will be the convergence of everything learned till now. With that, we will frame the problem and define the area to focus on.

      Trust in the process and step by step we get closer to something new: it could be a product, a solution, or a brand new way to experience banking.


      Estefania Gual
      Estefania Gual

      Estefania is a FinTech product strategist. She has worked for leading digital core banking software and consulting firms and has extensive experience in offering high-quality technical and business insights.

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