“We have to think about the customers first” — this is a well-known truth for all UX and UI designers, who dedicate their efforts on crafting intentional, memorable experiences between real people and their tools. Experiences that give the feeling of trust and honesty, are easy to understand for users and are a delight to use.

Creating a great customer experience is more than focusing on just the digital side of our service or product. Even with web-based solutions, a significant part of the magic lies in the off-digital components, e.g. customer support, swift processing of requests, communication via preferred channels, etc. This means that if we want to create a great service, we have to leave the box of mere web design and apply the best-practices of UX to a much broader category of aspects.

It’s the responsibility of the UX designer to plot an elegant, deliberate, natural course for the recipients of the experience being designed. And then take them where you want with as little resistance as possible. Good design is not forceful, vague, selfish, ignorant or accidental, but intentional. Good design leads people.

A user equals to a customer

User experience design is a subset of customer experience design. Users are customers who are engaging with solutions via digital channels. So UX focuses on the experience customers have while using these digital channels.

However, the difference between CX and UX is not easy to make. It is often overseen and can lead to the obsolescence of the entire effort invested in the design. For this reason, if we want to improve the user experience in FinTech, we cannot concentrate only on typical technical features like speed and user-friendliness but need to consider how customer experience in traditional financial services has shaped the perception and expectation of our users. Since financial services relate to one of the most personal spheres in our lives — our financial situation, the most significant value they can create for us is trust. Trust is both an emotional and a logical act, so a digital financial solution should be able to invoke it during the entire customer journey, not just the digital parts.

Given the fact that our receivables management platform is used by both businesses and consumers, we are constantly working on improving its design and usability and approach the above-mentioned issue from both sides of the spectrum. And in this post, I’m going to describe some of the key takeaways we learned during the design process.

Design for the journey

Based on that we can say that the customer journey focuses not only on the end goal people want to achieve, but it also helps us define the issues of structure, culture, and policies. As service providers, we should be aware of the fact that the user’s experiences involve a series of touch-points with our organisation. For example, they interact with the website, the customer communication team etc. In short, people interact with different departments, using different channels, on different devices.

One of the good UX practices is to create a customer journey map in order to visualise that interaction. The map shows the stages the user might go through. And the following information is collected for every stage:

  • Tasks: What is the user trying to achieve?
  • Questions: What does the user want to know?
  • Emotions: How does the user feel about the experience?
  • Touch-points: What parts of the organisation is the user interacting with?
  • Weaknesses: In which areas is the organisation letting the user down?

Having this in mind, let’s see where the value of trust comes from (or fails to do so) throughout the customer journey in receivables management.

Building trust in an environment filled with bad actors is hard

Imagine this situation: You sell items at your eCommerce store, you’ve built your brand and then… there is a problem with payments. For some reason, a significant amount of people get behind on their bills and you don’t know why. What would you do in this situation?

You can always set-up a straight-forward process for reminding your customers of their overdue payments or hire a traditional debt collection agency to do that for you. The customer journey follows strict procedures and goes through a few levels of communication. And you’re done, right?

Let’s have a look:

What you probably didn’t expect is that these straight-forward methods aren’t always working: calls that go unanswered, letters lost in the pile of mail, customers contacted by debt collectors start to feel threatened. And the reason for that is very simple: people feel bad about owing money and they tend to avoid direct chats with collection agents. It is also true that people aren’t paying their debts because they don’t have money. Both cases require completely different ways of communication in order to keep the trust of your customer. If customers trust you and feel taken care of, they will pay you.

To summarise: the customer experience with the traditional approach leads to an end, but that wasn’t the end goal you wanted to achieve.

Let’s take a look at how innovation in the field of finance can help you improve on that.

Get to know your audience

FinTech startups know that the failures of traditional debt collection are a huge opportunity for them. There is a great chance to radically change the customer experience and really help people with their finances by using technology. Again, this mediation process will have to be built on trust and has the main goal of keeping the communication channel between the business and its customers open throughout the entire journey.

So what changed in comparison to the previous chart? Summarised in four steps:

1. Create trust by putting your customers first

Customer relationships really matter. In the segment of receivables management, people often feel embarrassed or afraid when they have overdue payments. For that reason, the way you communicate with people, should make them feel well and also give them freedom of choice. Communicating via email, social media, messenger services and giving them the ability to adjust payment plans online, make it easier to explain and manage their financial situation and increase the possibility for your company to collect your debt without invoking legal action.

2. A late customer is not necessarily a bad customer

Don’t forget that customers may have late payments due to forgetfulness or temporary financial trouble (yes, even in the field of B2C receivables). If you can spot such customers in your database, you have the door opened for you to a tremendous opportunity to show them that you care for them and strengthen your relationship with them.

3. AI can improve the customer experience

Knowing your customer facilitates the building of trust. We at eCollect see receivables management as a data-driven process. All these questions regarding the assessment of the customer can be answered using AI and machine learning. We use collected data to predict the risk related to the customer and to optimise the communication process. We also see data as a possibility to predict preferences like communication channels, and even tone of voice, as well as the frequency of communication.

4. Keep it simple and easy

Simplicity becomes even more important when talking about FinTech platforms. Simplifying the experience in terms of page layout, task flows, and content display is the key to lead people to the desired destination. For example, the best way to simplify a receivables management app is by transforming complex financial data into easy-to-understand graphs, charts, and more. Part of the good customer experience is to make sure the most frequently used tasks are visible to the user, are easily accessible to them, and give them confidence while handling their finances.

Bottom line

UX design provides us with the tools which can help us centre an entire process around our customers and achieve a shift in user habits. It additionally facilitates the adoption of new technologies in traditional fields by making sure customers remain satisfied throughout the entire interaction with a new service. Don’t forget: One wrong step in the customer journey can diminish the effect of ten right ones.

Specifically in receivables management, user experience principles help both businesses, and their customers by providing easy to use tools to manage their payments better. As designers in the FinTech world, we should focus on where customers want to go, what they want to achieve, and take responsibility for them getting there.