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Digital Services

  • 17 Jul 2023
  • 5 min

How to meet the Consumer Duty with user-centred design

Finance for humans. Making compliance the floor, not the ceiling, for customer experience in financial services.

Imagine a young mum sitting at her kitchen table. Her face lit by laptop light, fingers worrying at the edge of unpaid bills. It's a sharp February night, the boiler has packed in, and there's more month than money left. The bank balance hasn't recovered from Christmas, and the cost of living is biting, so she's considering a payday loan. A loan that could ease the immediate pain, but could lock her family into a cycle of persistent debt. She feels lost and confused, unsure of her options, ready to walk into a decision with lasting consequences.

Where does the responsibility lie? Customer or provider?

According to the FCA, firms need to step up. In this moment of vulnerability and uncertainty, the new Consumer Duty emerges as a beacon of hope. It is a mandate with heart, requiring financial firms to genuinely act in customers' best interests. It goes beyond transactions, guiding companies to forge understanding-based relationships.

Helping you, help your customers

At Leith, we want to help firms rise to the challenge of this new standard of care, improving digital products and services with this in mind.

Unpacking the Consumer Duty

Simplifying products, testing comprehension over ticking boxes, and designing services that serve customers over boosting profits. That's the heart of Consumer Duty.

It asks for financial experiences that revolve around consumer well-being and guides individuals on their unique financial journey. It's about seeing the human behind each customer. It's about relationships where people feel heard, understood, and empowered, leading to loyalty and advocacy.

This Duty extends to all customer touch points, so all websites, apps, customer portals, emails and any other digital products or services your customers have contact with. It’s no longer enough for these things to be functional. It has to be clear that they are serving a customer need and will help ensure good outcomes for them.

From burden to opportunity

As the deadline for the new Consumer Duty regulation on 31st July 2023 approaches, firms must adapt. But it's not just about compliance; it's about customer experience philosophy. It's understanding that customers' needs change and may fluctuate between vulnerability and resilience.

While organisations may view this as an administrative headache, we see it differently. Consumer Duty is an opportunity for introspection. What do you want to be known for? How do you want to show up for your customers?

This new regulation isn't just about doing the right thing; it's about building trust, understanding your customers better and aligning your offerings with their needs. Doing so can give you a competitive edge in an increasingly saturated market.

The power of user-centred design

Consumer Duty's ethos is akin to that of user-centred design (UCD) - putting the customer at the heart of products and services. There’s a good analogy for this: about the last time you used a drill. Did you really want a drill – or did you actually want a three-millimetre hole in the wall? Did you really want a hole in the wall, or to hang a picture of your kids above your desk?

This is the approach that needs to be taken with digital products and services. Firms need to show that they understand what customers really need, and can help them get to that outcome quickly. Taking a design approach that centres those needs will help you to align your websites, apps and digital experiences, so they are consistent, useful, transparent and accessible.. This not only helps customers achieve their goals faster and more easily, but also helps you stay in line with the new regulations.

Getting to know real humans

Customers aren't widgets. Take Ozzy Osbourne and King Charles – same age, married, 2 kids, wealthy, dog lovers. In a persona they look the same, yet they’re light years apart in how they think and behave.

Mishaps occur when we don't know our customers well – and where finances are concerned, the impacts can be severe and life-impacting. Consumer Duty insists on good outcomes and continuous testing and improvements to fulfil them. Think of it like cooking. A good cook tastes and tweaks as they go. In the same vein, we test and improve products and services to ensure they remain in consumers' best interest.

Compliance: an opportunity to build trust

Consumer Duty is an opportunity to build trust with your customers, the currency of customer relationships in the modern financial landscape. Standing out requires finding your own authentic path, one that aligns with your unique values and strengths. This is where UCD becomes a game-changer, ensuring every touchpoint reflects a commitment to understanding and serving customers' needs.

How Leith can help

At Leith, we're a bunch of people who genuinely care about understanding customers and helping them make the best decisions for their lives. We see the opportunity that these new regulations offer. With extensive experience with financial services firms and user-centred design and research expertise, we want to be your trusted partner in this new era.

Compliance is more than ticking boxes for us. It's about building meaningful connections and lasting trust with customers. We base every decision on your customers' needs and aspirations, all discovered through rigorous research. Together, we can tap into the spirit of these new regulations and elevate your reputation as a truly people-first provider.

Want to talk?

Get in touch to explore how our expertise can help your firm navigate the complexities of the FCA Consumer Duty. We're here to help.