Human Centred Design can help financial services firms differentiate from their competitors. Here’s what ANZ is doing

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Opher Yom-Tov, chief design officer at ANZ, believes design can be a powerful tool for business growth. He is particularly focused on human centred design, which emphasises understanding the customer and putting them at the heart of the design process.

He says: “Design is about a lot more than just aesthetics, it is actually a way of solving problems.” Human centred design was refined in Silicon Valley in the 1970s, with early examples including the design of Apple’s first computer mouse. It borrows techniques from psychology, anthropology, product design and other fields to really understand what customers need.

Yom-Tov, who has worked with the likes of Apple and Nike during his career, has experienced first-hand the importance of meeting customer needs as part of the design process.

He says: “Many of the successful products were not necessarily the smartest engineered or the most beautiful solutions, but they effectively addressed specific customer needs.

“I have battle scars that have proved to me how critical an approach like human centred design is.” Companies are beginning to wake up to the many benefits design can bring.

Research by the UK’s Council of Design found that firms that used and valued design had significantly improved sales, profits, turnover and growth compared with those that did not.

In fact, every £100 a ‘design-alert’ company spent on design increased the company’s turnover by an average of £225.  But while the benefit of human centred design may be obvious for physical products, such as a mobile phone, Yom-Tov says it also has an important role to play in services.

He explains: “ANZ has recognised that in order to be a leader in financial services, one of the most effective levers is compelling and meaningful propositions and experiences.

He adds that in order to create these experiences, the bank must uncover what customers actually need, and this is where human centred design comes in.

Yom-Tov explains that human centred design is essentially about three things: collaboration, empathy and experimentation. He says: “Collaboration involves having a cross-functional team with people who represent different aspects of the final product or experience, focusing on the problem.”

Empathy involves this team going out and spending time with the various stakeholders who will use the product, which, in the case of a financial product, includes banking staff, advisers and the end customer.

“We need to understand the world from their perspective and see how financial services fit into their life,” Yom-Tov says. The third aspect of human centred design involves experimentation.

“The notion of experimentation is that you will not get it right first time, so you need to develop a range of potential solutions and simulate (or prototype) them very cheaply, so your customers can give you feedback on which options resonate for them,” Yom-Tov says.

He points out that doing this before you invest heavily in a product or service helps to remove substantial risk. “In the world of banking, failure is not generally tolerated, but this notion of failing often on a small scale prevents you from failing on a very large scale,” he says.

Yom-Tov explains that his vision for ANZ is that all staff truly understand the value and impact design can have on the bank’s business and its customers, and, as a result, they apply a human centred design approach to everything they do.

“Whether that is solving internal problems, like business processes that are slowing us down, or looking at ways to address new competitor threats, they should take a step back and approach it with this human centred design lens to craft better customer and staff experiences,” he says.

ANZ has already used human centred design for many things including customer application processes and completely rebuilding its banking app.

Yom-Tov says: “The process involved an incredible amount of time with customers and observing people using all manner of digital services to focus on what we needed to do to create the right mobile banking app.

“Ours is incredibly simple and straightforward. We have limited the features in it so that is very clear and resonates with customers’ daily routines.”

Another area in which human centred design has been applied is in home loans. “The home loan process, most of which is invisible to customers, is highly complex. We have been helping our teams to simplify our internal processes, to create a simpler experience for customers,” he says.

He concedes there will always be trade-offs when doing human centred design in a bank, with teams often encountering regulatory obstacles or constraints, but he says the trick is not to be daunted by these issues and to still come up with fantastic solutions for customers.

Yom-Tov says human centred design also often has a positive impact on staff. He has noticed that when people work in cross-functional teams and experiment with different ideas, they naturally bring more of their creativity to the workplace.

“I have worked with many people who have had an epiphany moment in their careers when they have found that human centred design has unlocked a lot more of their personal potential and made coming to work much more exciting and engaging.

“They feel like they are having a first-hand impact on the success of the company and the lives of their customers,” he says.

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