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Designing a winning UI/UX for financial services

  • Deloitte's approach to UI/UX in financial services prioritizes desirability, feasibility, and viability, emphasizing customer desire to build trust in banking experiences.
  • Deloitte's Olivia Mikkelsen, lead experience designer, and Ryan Geyer, the Chief Product Officer for Deloitte's Converge Banking Suite, join us on the podcast.

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Designing a winning UI/UX for financial services

In this episode, I moderated a discussion between Olivia Mikkelsen, lead experience designer at Deloitte, and Ryan Geyer, the Chief Product Officer for Deloitte’s Converge BankingSuite. Together, we delved deep into the world of UI/UX and its pivotal role within the realm of financial services. Our conversation revolved around the intricate balance between customer experience and technological innovation.

Olivia introduced us to Deloitte’s “balanced breakthrough method,” which provides a structured approach to prioritize desirability, feasibility, and viability when creating new banking experiences. She stressed the importance of truly understanding customer desires, needs, and pain points, offering valuable insights into their methodology.

Ryan emphasized that in a rapidly evolving landscape, banks must adapt and integrate with fintech companies rather than compete against them. He discussed the need for enhancing customer service, contextual guidance, and the role of generative AI in taking the customer experience to the next level.

We explored the significance of personalized experiences and the bedrock of trust in financial services, concluding that technology, including generative AI, should ultimately serve to make customers feel seen and comfortable within this environment.

Overall, our discussion shed light on the ever-changing dynamics of the banking industry and the crucial role of technology in enhancing customer experiences while building and maintaining trust.

This is episode 3 in a four-part podcast series we’re doing with Deloitte. To get the other episodes in the series or to access a transcript of this one, go to

Here’s my conversation with Ryan and Olivia.

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The following excerpts were edited for clarity.

Where UI/UX and customer experience fits in the overall digital journey

Olivia Mikkelsen: At Deloitte, we try to focus on something called the “balanced breakthrough method”. What this helps us understand for banks and new solutions is where should we start. And why? We like to start with the desirability lens. That’s really just asking, do people want this experience? And so once we understand that simple question, it helps us further define the need and how we’re going to solve that matter. So for example, in COVID-19, this was a time where technology and new banking solutions specifically really came to the forefront of the experience. Different user groups who were maybe less familiar with technology needed to interact with it. And through varieties of qualitative and quantitative research methods, we were actually able to distill in a specific example, that onboarding and the UX/UI patterns and journey moments, were the key moments for gaining the initial customer trust.

And often it’s actually overlooked — it’s looked at as a pop-out experience, or just getting people into the platform. But that was really the winning moment. So that’s an example where desirability and talking to the customer is one moment where you can really gain that initial trust and understanding of what you should design.

We can’t forget about feasibility — the technology — and also the viability. Those are the two other components of the balanced breakthrough method. Those are really more about answering, what is it worth and how will we build it? How can we actually put it to market? We typically try to balance those three areas across the journey, we might have a bit more weight at the beginning of the customer experience. But as we look to distill into an MVP, then we really do bring in that technology and viability lens there. So it’s a bit cyclical, and hence the chicken in the egg.

Ryan Geyer: It’s all customer focus at the beginning. Do they need it? Do they want to? Does this actually serve a purpose? It resonates really well, with everyone from the top-line executive down to an analyst typing in user stories or requirements. At the end of the day, within banking, historically, it’s, Hey, I have this really cool technology tool. Great, what am I gonna do with it? This just helps us really focus on what we’re building and how we get hyper-specific. How do I personalize experiences? Ultimately, I don’t want any of the additional spend or operational costs associated with experiences that aren’t going to be used.

How banks listen to customers

Olivia Mikkelsen: I would definitely say that they are getting there. And there are so many different types of customer research that I’ve personally seen being launched with digital banks and with historical banks as well, a lot of it even distills down to what type of technology we should be focusing on. Is it an integration for something that already exists? Is it the platform or the form factor?

Going back to that onboarding example, we had done research to understand which users, regardless of age, on a native mobile app, when they were doing banking interactions, were on their desktop. We did about a 300-person study and learned that about 70% of customers interact with the native app. That was a great research point to learn that that should really be our priority. We can build out the other experiences later, but really looking to cater to the majority of the customer base.

Where banks should focus with experiences

Olivia Mikkelsen: It ultimately ties back to who your target audience is. When I lead research, or I’m looking to dive into research, one of the questions I’m looking to answer is, are our customers ultimately looking to extend the products that they have? So, focusing on the breath for a single company. Or are they looking to enhance the current products that they own? Do they just want really great benefits with a credit card or a debit card that they have through their bank? Or are they looking to extend their banking services to loans or other areas of facilitation? Research really helps inform that answer, but ultimately, if I had to give a single answer, it would be to grow with your customers, rather than to grow beyond them or outgrow them.

Ryan Geyer: I think it needs to be with your customers plus one, so you grow and push at the same time. Using the same framework, it doesn’t outgrow your technology, don’t we have to be specific on what the customer problem is we’re solving? And what are the tools necessary to deliver that component of the experience?

I think there’s that parallel path of making sure the bank can get from capex to opex very quickly, that we can have the right tech components being built at the right time to deliver those experiences. And it all comes back to that desirability lens that we focused on initially in the conversation, but it really is building out that offering. At the end of the day, customers expect a lot, as they should. One of the things that we’re starting to see in the market more and more, especially within the executive teams that we interact with, is that there is this broad understanding: technology has matured quite a bit. Everyone is on their phones more, whether we like it or not. It’s not just the young kids on their Nokia playing Snake like we would have a long time ago.

COVID helped change the way the world works with remote work. There’s an understanding that these experiences matter at a very deep level. And so again, this is all about customer expectations, and that framework Olivia outlined, moving forward in a way that makes the most sense for our customers, while we build within our own technology stack.

Business expectations are also changing

Olivia Mikkelsen: The small business segment is really interesting on customer expectations. I know I need something, but I don’t know what it is. We learned that in a recent research study, especially after COVID, 67% of small businesses actually transferred to using a fintech offering, rather than one of their traditional banks, just because they were looking to expand their product offerings and their needs. And there’s often a core need with small businesses where they don’t have a lot of cash on hand. Thus, credit and credit lending becomes such a high pain point for them. A lot of the customer expectations that we see with that group, as well, are really stretching towards those opportunities and how people can interact with their bank moving forward.

Bank positioning as customer expectations evolve

Ryan Geyer: I think the answer that we keep circling around is context is everything. We need to make sure we’re delivering those highly personalized experiences in a way that customers find valuable. And one point that Olivia just made about customers pivoting to fintechs, banks shouldn’t be afraid of fintechs. We need to figure out the best way to prepare to integrate with fintechs — everything from payments to insights that we serve up to customers to how we interact with a debit or credit card, which are now highly brandable moments.

Look at market leaders like Amex. It’s not just a credit card, it’s a highly brandable moment. Greenlight does the same thing for kids and younger accounts. Thinking through the entire customer journey from brand to delivering these experiences is critical. We have to understand what our customers want and need.

In the future to prepare, you’re going to see a lot of dynamic pricing. You’ll see product bundling across not only banking but wealth management and insurance. The market leaders in this space are going to do a really good job at delivering new product propositions that combine dynamic rates from the market, but also context from their customers, like where they live? What do they drive? What are they spending in their transactional accounts? That’s all from a customer standpoint, and understanding them.

From a technology standpoint, we shouldn’t be afraid of fintechs. But we need to be focused on full-stack transformation. Real-time payments don’t help me if I don’t have a real-time core. So understanding how to get off of a legacy core mainframe into a more dynamic core system is important. Real-Time stacks throughout the real-time integrations, throughout the product stack, are important. Ultimately, one of the things we deliver with bank fabric at Converge Banking Suite is really plugging into all of these fintechs that a customer would want.

To Olivia’s point, they’re going to a fintech, because they deliver payments better. Square does a really good job at the point of sale, for instance. That doesn’t mean a bank should be afraid of them, and how do we integrate with them? How do we get that transaction account from our core to integrate with Square, for instance? How do we serve that up on a unified customer experience? I think that’s really how banks should approach this problem and go from a customer standpoint, all the way through the stack.

Olivia Mikkelsen: The two things that really stood out to me in that summary and where we are going to see disruption is one, just the speed that customers are expecting. In the past few years, there’s just been such an expectation for how technology is working for us. The other is just the moments where we’ll interact and encounter these banking opportunities. Amazon now has connections with Buy Now, Pay Later services. So the embedded finance aspect, and we’re going to start seeing a lot more retail and banking opportunities coming together.

Fintech and banks can play to their own strengths

Ryan Geyer: It plays their strengths, but it also it gives you scale that you wouldn’t have otherwise — that scale and that speed to market. I know those are buzzwords, but if I let a fintech handle my card, all of my card fulfillment, card integration, and controls, I can focus much more of my effort on delivering the overall experience around those card controls, or around whatever it is that the fintech is doing. We’re seeing banks embrace that role. I think we are seeing fintechs embrace that role, too.

Ultimately, the bank should control the customer experience at the end of the day. Capex matters. Opex matters. Operations and viability matters. We need to build products that make money for our banks and our top line. But at the end of the day, if our customers are unhappy, that’s not going to be a good outcome for anyone, so let banks focus on personalizing, understanding, and knowing their customers.

Generative AI and banking experiences

Ryan Geyer: In order to focus on the problem set, we have to remember that finances are inherently emotional. So from the most underbanked to the highest of the upper high net worth, money is emotional, and any tool that we have should be considered through that customer lens, what problem am I solving? How do I deliver it to somebody so they would want it? I think one area that we are particularly excited about that we are already working on — we’ve got active POCs — is doing the simple things really, really well.

One of the simple things that, regardless of whether we talk about it or not, is customer service. And it’s not just call centers. But wherever I am, within an app, a platform, or the web, or even if I’m in a branch, if I reach out for that help button, that help button could be anything — a chat, a phone call, a conversation with someone — the context should come with me. The context isn’t just, oh, they were on this screen when they pressed the Help button. What’s the transaction history? Where am I? Am I on the East Coast and there’s a hurricane coming? Was I in a car accident? Did I just submit a claim? Or was it a simple overdraft?

There should also be dynamic ways that we interact with people when they call us. So if there’s an overdraft, that’s the first overdraft in a very long time. Let’s bring that fraud risk with us. Let’s bring that credit risk with us. Small businesses need credit. And let’s make a decision potentially for the customer favor — if I am in the middle of a hurricane, for instance, and something happens to my transactional account, or I’ve lost my card, how can I very quickly deliver a virtual card where it’s not a three-day rush to an address that may or may not be there? Also, I may or may not be at that address when that happens. So delivering just contextual help and support — doing those little things very, very well. That takes a very stressful conversation and makes it very simple.

I think another way that generative AI can help is in that dynamic bundling, we have to contextualize what we’re selling and how we’re selling it. If I’m a user, and you just put up a new interest rate for me, that might be exciting. I may look at it, and click on it. But if you can tell me what that interest rate does for me and the context of what I have elsewhere, or if you’re going to tell me, Hey, let’s consolidate some debt or let’s consolidate these loans. Or let’s sweep these transaction accounts into a high yield savings, because it will give you X. I think Gen AI can help us solve for outcomes much better. Y

Spotify’s new DJ feature is awesome. I know how to shuffle songs. But to have someone talk to you and say, Hey, you were listening to this back in 2017. There’s just these little moments of context that surprise and delight. We need to be able to do that in financial services. So it’s doing the simple things very, very well. And it’s delivering whatever it is that we’re going to deliver hyper-contextually and telling them what it’s going to do for you. I think those are really good use cases to start.

Olivia Mikkelsen: Banking really is truly a personal experience. Everybody has a different perspective on how they’re interacting with it. I think creating those moments of delight is really important. AI can help do that as well. Repetition often is the biggest pain point and hinders trust within the relationship. I think that was a great example of how we can use AI to drive moments of delight there. So 87% of clients in a survey of 300 mentioned that trust in their bank really wouldn’t make them take other recommendations and other offerings. Can we actually use that to save them from repetition to build on their product offering and their product set? And give them those really contextual reasons why.

I think the self-service perspective is helpful, too. Like, how can I answer my own questions? With wealth management, how can I do my own research? In recent interviews that I’ve been leading, I heard that customers are starting to use AI to answer questions that they might have gone to YouTube or blogs for in the past. So making that more of an integrated experience within even the banking platform itself, so they can do their own research with the company and really expand their their knowledge and expectations, and ultimately, product sets.

AI, data science, and banking

Ryan Geyer: You can’t talk about generative AI without talking about data and data science. An easy way to lose trust with a customer is to ask them 37 times in the same conversation what their address is. I understand verification. I get security. I understand it. But again, how can I use the tools that we have to verify as we need? And then how can we contextualize that for customers? Something as simple as, hey, I know you’ve already done this. Because I’m asking you a different set of questions. I need one more verification — something like that is very simple and delivers trust at a high level to say, I know you know that I know that you know this, right?

While we focus on the customer, their journey is also very important for the people on the phone or for the people in the branch, like what context can I give them so that they can increase the customer’s experience with whatever it is that they’re going through at that moment. And just understanding data: we have all this data about our customers. Having access to it contextually and then delivering it at the right time so that we can deliver better outcomes — it’s critical to understand and we have to focus on those things. Gen AI is the buzzword, but doesn’t mean we have to have ChatGPT in every app. What it means is we can deliver better outcomes to our customers and, frankly, save a lot of operational costs in the backend for the bank.

Olivia Mikkelsen: I think when I was doing research a few years ago, personalization really was just about seeing my name in the app. So, ‘Welcome Olivia to this banking experience.’ Gen AI and the technology that we have now can really promote those dedicated personalization experiences, which ultimately will drive customer engagement and give the sales and banking teams more knowledge to be more helpful employees.

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