Richard Litchfield, Head of Operations at P2P lending platform Lending Works, explains what user experience is and the important role that it plays within the fintech industry.
It’s simple: if users find your website or app annoying or frustrating, they are not going to become customers. In today’s competitive fintech market, creating the right user experience can be the difference between success and failure. In this article, I’m going to break down the user experience and explain its importance.
In its broadest sense, user experience refers to any interaction that a potential customer has with your product or service. This could be anything, from something as simple as how a product feels to how complex the buying and checkout process is on a website. Good user experience design considers every single colour, element, and shape that a customer might interact with.
The ultimate goal of a successful user experience is to make things as easy and efficient for your users as possible, without creating any unnecessary stress. As a user you will rarely think about this, but there are countless hours of market research, product development, and design that go into creating a seamless user experience that fulfils your needs and expectations.
The fintech industry has become fiercely competitive. Smaller, more agile firms are creating unique offerings, finding investment, and competing directly with the stalwarts of the industry. Whether it’s innovative investing apps, challenger banks, or P2P lending platforms, there’s no shortage of exciting ideas out there.
These new companies have the advantage of being digital natives, so they aren’t bogged down by traditional ways of doing things. This allows them to forgo physical locations and face-to-face interactions and create digital-first models.
The industry has been propelled forward in a short space of time, and users have quickly come to expect their mobile and desktop experiences to be fast, intuitive, and secure. Failure to provide this for your customers can cause them to air their grievances online and ultimately switch to someone who is doing it better.
Many of the ways that we interact with companies today were simply not possible even ten years ago. But in this rapidly-changing world, humans are quick to adapt, and so too must businesses. Below, I will outline just some of the ways that fintech companies are improving their user experience and the importance this has in acquiring and retaining customers.
There’s no denying that there has been a huge shift towards mobile phones in the last decade. In 2015, mobile banking officially became the number-one way to bank, overtaking branches and online banking (BBA). By 2020, it is predicted that people will use mobiles to manage their bank account 2.3 billion times — more than all other methods combined.
This revolution could scarcely have been predicted at the turn of the millennium. But having a mobile app alone can only get you so far, and customers will move away from your brand if your app or website is difficult to use or looks dated. The rise of challenger banks such as Monzo has forced traditional financial institutions to spend millions creating their own apps just to compete.
Whether it is a website, computer programme, or mobile app, design and layout is key to customer satisfaction. The user experience must be built around a customer’s needs, easily facilitating all key journeys that they might want to make. No two customers are the same, and a lot of research and testing is required to predict user behaviour.
In today’s fast-paced world, and with competitors all around, this isn’t something that can simply be chosen on a whim and forgotten about — user experience has to be dynamic to address customers’ changing needs. As more and more companies realise the importance of user experience, the bar is raised even higher, and customer expectations increase.
No two customers are the same, so standardised communications won’t cut it anymore. Consumers are becoming accustomed to the personalised experience: whether that is an online retailer recommending products you might like, travel websites letting you know the weather forecast in your destination before your holiday or a streaming service that understands the things you like to watch.
Personalisation has become so common that we rarely even think about it, but it is a key part of user experience. The only thing better than giving a customer what they want is giving it to them before they know they want it. And the same is now true within fintech: the best way to cut through the noise is to give customers exactly what they want, when they want it, in a way that feels unique to them.
Bank branches are closing down every week due to mobile banking. So much so that the average Brit hasn’t stepped foot in a bank in the last two years, with only 12% of people saying they would visit their branch (Your Money). The message is clear: we expect things to be digitised, and we expect to be able to service ourselves. For this reason, online and in-app self-service must be a fundamental feature of any fintech platform.
And, this is only a good thing, both in terms of cost and ease. By giving customers the ability to manage their accounts, apply for loans, and invest their money from the comfort of their home, financial institutions are ultimately saving time and money. Not only that, but allowing customers to research products and services in their own time will ultimately lead to more conversions.
These are just a few examples of how user experience is changing the fintech industry. It has never been easier for customers to switch services, so understanding their needs and meeting them is key to success.