Design Patterns for building Trust

Trust in banks is at an all time low in Australia. Following the Banking Royal Commission and the introduction of Consumer Data Rights (CDR), there is a critical focus within our financial institutions to re-establish trust with customers and introduce greater controls for users over their data and flexibility over their accounts and service providers.

ThoughtWorks, through our work with the banks and Government, are drawing upon customer friendly and repeatable Design Patterns for Banks, Financial Services and Corporates to enable a consistent approach to Open Banking and CDR, enabling these organisations to offer customers a far better experience that will slowly build back trust.

In this talk, we will share these design patterns and the insights learned through prototyping and testing with customers and merchants. These designs are based on principles that are relevant to all customer interactions. Learn about how these methods and patterns can be applied to give customers control in their online transactions and greater confidence over their financial decisions.

Design Patterns for building trust

Kate Linton – Head of Design – ThoughtWorks Australia

Keywords: visual design, Consumer Data Right, trustworthiness, transparent communication, informed consent, data breaches.

TL;DR:Research indicates that consumer trust is currently at an all time low, largely due to an historic lack of regulation in the financial services industry combined with a spate of recent massive data breaches across the globe. Kate shares some simple design practices that designers can use to make their products and processes more trustworthy. By being transparent in communications, understanding customers, slowing down, making space for customers to say no, and giving customers control, particularly in the field of consent, designers can create better experiences to help rebuild and restore trust between consumers and their service providers.

Kate is a digital designer who works for ThoughtWorks.

Kate often gets asked by clients how she as a visual designer can make products appear more trustworthy. Particularly in financial services, consumer trust has become a dwindling commodity, particularly over the past couple of years. Kate is interested in what went wrong and why, and how we as designers can make things right and design a better experience.

Kate believes banks want to do right by customers. To illustrate this, she took a range of mission statements from various Australian banks and fed them into a word cloud. They all talk about customers and most banks would describe their purpose as to serve customers.

However, a recent Ipsos trust survey indicates that bankers show only a 13% trust rating by Australian consumers, only one percentage point above politicians. This has not always been the case. The biggest thing that has shone a light on financial services in Australia was the Royal Commission into banking in 2017, which produced almost daily gobsmacking negative headlines about greedy banks.

The result of this was that in 2018 the three volume Haynes Royal Banking Commission, Haynes Report came out with findings from the commission which was packed with recommendations. Many of these have since been adopted into stronger government regulations and legislation. Despite this, consumer trust remains at an all time low.

In parallel to the Royal Commission, there has also been an escalating anxiety around personal data and constant data breaches. Customer data has become much more valuable and thus vulnerable to being stolen. In the last decade, customer data has become its own asset class. It powers business like Google, Amazon, Facebook and is key to their business models. Most of us know someone or have ourselves fallen victim to identity theft or credit card fraud.

Top data breaches of 2019 included Social media profiles with 4 billion records breached, Facebook with 540 million records breached, Orvibo leaked database with over two billion records breached, and so on. Such high-profile cases have forced business’ to consider what types of customer data they are collecting and how they can protect it.

Ethical use of customer data is no longer an occasional concern: It is a key driver of consumer trust. The Australian Govt introduced the Consumer Data Right which aims to make it easy for people to take control of their own personal data and by doing so, enable them to move their business more easily between banks and financial service providers.

But business can do a lot more than this to gain and maintain trust and remain competitive in the market. Kate will share a few simple design principles that can help build trust between consumers and their service providers.

Designing for Trust involves five key principles:

  1. Transparent communications – talking to customers in their own language
  2. Understand your customer – only selling them things that you know are relevant to them and that they can use
  3. Slow Down – ensure your customer understands the product before they agree to buy it
  4. Normalize “no” – make it easy for customers to opt-out or turn back
  5. Give customers control – over their data and over their privacy

Transparent communications: Nielsen Norman Group famously said that: When writing for the web, you should aim at the literacy level of an eighth grader.[13-14 yr old] The reason for this is because 30% of your audience online have low literacy levels, or those equivalent of an eighth grader. For those with higher literacy, they tend to just skim. So in thinking about addressing an eighth grade audience, you’re actually improving the understanding of your content for everybody.

Kids that age have moved on from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games. How do you make your product content/terms and conditions/disclosure statements etc as interesting and relevant as the Hunger Games? It’s not just about using plain language. Your information also has to be relevant to your audience.

In thinking about communicating items like complex Terms and Conditions, you need to start by thinking about the products themselves. Ex: If your product requires twenty pages of terms and conditions to accompany it, perhaps you need to simplify the product itself. Bring the lawyers in early! Think about how you can simplify complex documents to effectively communicate with your customers.

In financial services there is an added layer of complexity due to the use of industry jargon. Kate has worked with a number of banks and financial institutions recently to create customer experience guidelines, particularly around the world of payments. They all agreed that if we could establish consistent language to describe consent, payments, concepts around authorization that it would dramatically improve usability. It would also be easier for customers to compare products and make an informed choice.

An example of what that simple language could look like is: Ex: creditor and debtor was much clearer when described as payer/payee. This plain language has to be used across all channels, including customer-facing staff.

Communications with customers need to be not only consistent but also regular. Research showed that a common pain point customers had with financial services providers was unexpected fees. One easy way to address this is by sending pre-emptive, automated text messages about account activity. This ensures they’re informed in advance and within a timeframe that they can act. Also reinforces trust and gives customer a better sense of control.

Understand your customer Think about the relationship you have with your personal favourite service provider. For Kate, this is Yanni, her barista. He knows how she likes her order and that she [pre-pandemic] brings her own cup. He cares about her coffee experience. This makes her loyal, but how do you scale that personal relationship to an enterprise?

Customer segment of one. Imagine if you treated every customer as a segment of one? What if banks could offer highly tailored and personal service like that we’ve become accustomed to by our local baristas or by amazon – i.e: what if they could treat customers as individuals? What if they were concerned not only with pushing the next best product, but of providing advice and guidance that takes all aspects of the customer’s life into account? They can actually do this! How? By using the rich data that we give them access to.

This means moving away from selling generic, bundled products designed more to suit the business than they are the customer. Bundled products are designed for broad segments, and offer a smorgasbord. Kate’s a vegan and smorgasbords don’t work for her! The Royal Commission highlighted how bad and scandalous some of these bundled products could be. Ex: selling income protection to retirees. Rather, we can use the rich data we have on individual customer’s spending habits and histories and to provide tailored and relevant products. It is still possible to offer product bundles, as long as they present relevant options to choose from.

Slow Down. This is often counterintuitive for seasoned UX designers. For a long time we’ve measured success around the speed to complete a task. Speed and efficiency metrics are not only useful in determining customer satisfaction, they’re also good for business.

At the heart of consumer data right is the notion of informed consent. Your customers need to be fully informed about how their data is going to be used before they give informed consent. Similarly, customers that are considering purchasing a product or entering into payment terms with you need to understand the terms and conditions before they make an informed decision. This means you need to encourage your customers to slow down. Present them with clear explanations and give them the time to read them.

This is called “positive friction’, which introduces small interactions that force users to slow down and process the information. Ex: you can progressively disclose chunks of information into small digestible pieces. At ThoughtWorks they use this for the design of Authorization and Consent flows. Gives the customers a chance to digest each piece and also to acknowledge that they’ve read each page.

Normalise “no” Years of marketing and UX design have reinforced the majesty of the call to action. When designing customer journeys, we typically design for the happy path, culminating in the glorious moment when the customer hits the ‘pay now’ button. Typically, designers craft that journey to be as fast, seamless and efficient as possible.

In situations where we are asking a lot from the customer (Ex: committing to a complex payment agreement or turning over all their contacts for social media), we should present the options in a more equal light. There are always at least two paths a customer can choose, and often it’s a saner option not to follow the happy path.

Ex: instead of making the cancel link small compared with the pay now button, why not make them the same size? This represents a decision point for the customer, so don’t try to fool them into thinking there’s a right answer and a wrong answer.

Equal emphasis Ex: Payment authorization journey culminating in two buttons which have been presented to the customer with equal emphasis. This reinforces the importance of the decision for the customer and also helps to normalize the option to cancel or say no.

Give customers control. As data security and privacy become more significant for customers, they are wising up and their attitude toward personal data is starting to change. They are expecting complete ownership over their data (health data, financial data, social media data). Giving them a sense of control over data will help to build trust. The consumer data right will go a long way toward helping to achieve this. But there’s no reason businesses need to wait for regulations before they enact changes.

Ex: When GDPR was introduced in Europe, a lot of companies looked at it and just knew it was the right thing to do for their customers globally, including ThoughtWorks, who made operational changes in all regions.

There are a number of questions businesses need to ask if they are serious about protecting customer dataAsk yourself:

  • Is our customer data encrypted?
  • Are we only capturing data that will improve our service to our customers?
  • Are we asking for customers consent to capture their data?
  • Are we informing customers about how their data is used?
  • Are we allowing customers to access and manage their data?

As a general rule, we need to be way more frugal with the data we’re collecting from customers. If it does get breached, how much more damage can be inflicted when you are gathering data you don’t need? Ex: 2018 research by the Ponemon Institute surveying victims of data breaches showed 31% of customers impacted by a breach ended their relationship with the provider, and 65% lost trust.

To Recap: Designing for Trust involves five key principles:

  1. Transparent communications – talking to customers in their own language
  2. Understand your customer – only selling them things that you know are relevant to them and that they can use. Know what they need and know what they don’t
  3. Slow Down – ensure your customer is given the time to understand the product before they agree to buy it
  4. Normalize “no” – make it easy for customers to opt-out or turn back
  5. Give customers control – over their data and over their privacy

For Kate personally, she’s had to re-learn much of her training in usability and digital marketing. Having worked for twenty years in digital she’s always measured success of a digital experience in terms of speed to complete a task, customer conversions, minimizing bounce rates and cart abandonment. Whilst all of these are valid measures,if you focus on them exclusively, it’s going to be hard for you to build trust with customers. Consumer trust is an asset that businesses really need to thrive. Trust is a two-way transaction. To earn the trust of your customers, you also need to trust them. Do this by giving them agency and control over their data, and the ability to say no. Thankyou!