By Rob Vanasco
How do people manage their credit cards these days?
We used to get a statement in the mail every month. We would review the transactions, call the number on the statement if anything looked inaccurate, write a check, stuff it into an envelope, send it off and then promise ourselves we would spend less next month.
Today, we have mobile phones, tablets and computers that are always connected to the internet. We have real-time access to the most up-to-date financial information for any and all of our accounts. We can even curate that information into a single stream of data using services such as Mint or Personal Capital. We have no reason to notknow at any given moment what our balance is, what we owe and what we have spent.
So, how are credit union members managing all of this information? Last year, a small team of employees from PSCU – the nation’s leading credit union service organization (CUSO) – decided to find out. Using a four-part iterative member-centered design process, the team’s mission was to understand how people accomplish financial tasks using their internet-connected devices.
Answering Two Questions
The project set out to answer two main questions:
- How do credit union members currently manage their credit cards?
- How do members want to manage their credit cards in the future, and what do they need in order to accomplish these tasks?
We spoke individually with a group of credit union members representing a broad segmentation of demographics ranging from millennials trying to figure out how to best build their credit and stay out of debt, to married couples trying to manage their combined finances, to baby boomers with established financial practices. Mixed within this group were people who preferred the larger screen of a desktop or laptop computer, the convenience of mobile devices or the vision of smartwatches.
We spent time getting to know each member we interviewed to learn about their connection with their credit union and about their online experiences. We also shared some preliminary product designs during these meetings to see if we were on the right track with our initial assumptions.
We used an affinity board to step back and look at all the data we had gathered. Individual data points were classified into “I” statements that summarize the groupings, like “I am loyal to my credit union.” The “I” statements were then grouped into “we” statements, such as “We choose our credit union over bells and whistles.” After that, “we” statements were categorized into themes like Loyalty. These themes were transformed into design principles that helped guide and inform the design process. We began to think about design ideas at a high level, considering what features and functions each of the themes led us toward and how those would best serve members.
The interview details also helped us discover common attributes about our participants. Each member’s response was mapped with respect to where it sat on a scale between two extremes of a particular attribute. This exercise helps us define our persona or personas.
Personas provide a specific person to think about during the design process. They help us identify what is most important, as well as put a face and a name to those attributes. They take into account the goals, motivations, behaviors and pain points of our participant group. The common themes and attributes we have discovered thus far go into the creation of our persona. They are not “average users,” but instead the essence of our research participants.
Knowing our persona will aid us in the design decision-making process. It helps to define who we are designing for, and who we are not.
Learning from the Data
Once we analyzed all of the data, we looked back at our original questions to gauge our learnings.
How do credit union members currently manage their credit cards?
More and more members are relying on their mobile device to manage their finances, but they often use a desktop to track spending, combat fraud and make bill payments. Additionally, members view their current experience as one that requires too many steps, is outdated and is less user friendly than their home banking experience.
Very few members have a single app they use for all of their cards. Because many people have multiple financial institutions and various financial interests, they accept having to utilize multiple apps. Many members either manually tracked all of their finances or used software like Mint or Quicken to aggregate a single financial view.
The Big Question
How do members want to manage their credit cards in the future and what do they need in order to accomplish these tasks?
Most research participants want a streamlined one-stop shop experience for mobile banking, credit card management and rewards within their preferred credit union. They want the freedom to manage their accounts on the go. They want their credit union to be with them wherever they are (at work, at home, in their car) and available on whatever device they happen to be using at the time.
Members want account management tasks to be simplified, keeping data entry to a minimum and information and updates relevant to their needs.
While most members want the convenience of a quick “in and out” experience, they still want to maintain the neighborly feel of their traditional credit union experience.
PSCU is currently in the process of building a new product and applying learnings from the research as they become available. We feel we have something that will speak to the needs of our Owner credit unions and their members.
Regardless, times and expectations continue to change. Technology keeps evolving and products will have to continue to grow with the fluid needs of a member population that is demanding better, faster and easier-to-use solutions. As such, this research project was not a one-time event. Because CUSOs need to keep up with the demands of their credit unions, PSCU has made member-centered design part of our DNA so we are continually seeking to understand the needs of our Owners and their members.
PSCU will continue to research member needs in order to improve our products while maintaining the personal touch that sets credit unions apart from other financial institutions.
As a UX Product Designer, Rob Vanasco is passionate about creating experiences that help people accomplish financial tasks faster and with less stress.