Warm Customer Engagement for Digital Financial Services

What Does It Take to Be User-centric?

September 19, 2014

Posted by Dante Cassanego

“Customer-centricity is a concept that practically everyone agrees with, yet it takes a lot more than good intentions to implement.” – CGAP, “Customer-Centricity for Financial Inclusion”

Customer-centricity, user-centric design, human-centered design–all of these terms refer to the same mindset that places the customer or end-user at the center of an organization’s thinking. User-centric companies seek to provide solutions based on a deep understanding of the needs, preferences and behaviors of their users.

As the quote from CGAP captures, most companies would like to believe that they are user-centric. Many companies, however, will quickly confess that they wish they understood their clients better. For companies that want to become more user-centric, the most common question is, “Where do we start?”

At Juntos, our user-centric iterative design process begins with user research in the form of qualitative “deep-dive” interviews. As interviewers committed to user-centric design, we never use a questionnaire because we don’t presume that we know the right questions to ask. Instead, we develop a conversation that is guided by the user’s interests.

Allowing the potential user to guide the conversation leads to unexpected insights. Before we began designing products for partners in Mexico, we talked to potential users in Mexico City. In talking with one 30-year old man who had moved from a rural Mexican village to Mexico City, he told us that he took a three hour bus ride home to deposit his savings in the bank branch in his home town. He had passed branches of his bank in Mexico City but he doubted that the banks in Mexico City were connected to the bank in his little village.

This insight hints at just one of the many causes of the persistent problem of low take-up of products aimed at low-income individuals. Our user-centric design process, beginning with user research, allows us to capture these types of insights. By applying these insights, we are able to help our partner financial service providers drive engagement and account usage among low-income, newly-banked clients.


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