How the Finance Industry Can Drive Innovative Design Solutions with User Research

3 minute read

How Santander introduced a user-centric mindset through research and collaboration

The digital age brought us the inevitable ‘Disruptor’ – companies that have transformed the traditional way industries operate through regular high impact innovation. With the arrival of it’s new Fin-Tech competitors, finance is an industry in particular that has felt significant impact.

Banking, Insurance and other financial services have had long standing procedures that have granted their monumental success to this current day. However, with the arrival of design led companies like Monzo, Transferwise and Stripe – change is crucial and time is of the essence.

“Fin-Tech companies are transforming this space and accelerating innovation through strategic design led practices and a strong focus on user experience.”

Banking giant, Santander, has understood, acknowledged and actioned this shift towards a more user-centric mindset through starting up their own Innovation Lab. Bobby Chadha, Head of Fin-Tech Labs at Banco Santander, caught up with us on how their user testing principles help create the best design solutions for their customers.

“So many Enterprises fall into the trap of not speaking to customers. By interviewing 50 people you’re not going to build the next billion dollar company, but as an innovation lab, we understand that it’s unacceptable for us to simply talk to colleagues for feedback.”

What is the Santander Innovation Lab?

At the Lab, they have two main goals:

The Lab is all about building solutions – and their team reflects that, they have a full stack development team, designers and product managers. This way, they’re able to quickly create and test solutions within the different regions they operate in and gain valuable end user feedback.

The group’s work sits between the Lab’s employees, global customers and different Santander branches in Brazil, Poland, Spain and more. To achieve their goals, the team have gauged a strong understanding of each business and ensured they each have common practices and principles when it comes to understanding what user testing is – and why it is so crucial to do if you’re building any interaction with an end-user or customer of Santander.

“It’s important to get the balance right between inspiring the team and creating the right solutions for the end user.”

How did the lab approach an effective user research process?

Bobby explains the three steps he took to tackling user research within such a large and established organisation like Santander.

Being humble to the operation that works today and has been standing for a long time

Santander has been so successful in the way they’ve operated for many years, so Bobby first questioned, how can he approach things differently?

“The first thing I did was give myself time to understand how the operation worked. How do the different countries work together? How does regulation play a part in everything that we do? What are the services we provide our customers? From each bank account, users can apply for services like mortgages, savings and loans, these are all huge divisions and standalone businesses.”

“It’s important to ask yourself, how can I operate in this brand? That is a crucial factor to understand before you undertake any initiative to implement Design Thinking processes.”

Understanding who does what within the organisation

Within Enterprises of this size there can be thousands of employees, sometimes even hundreds of thousands. Each playing a significant role to the business’ success. “I would highly recommend anyone working in an Enterprise like this, to get to know the different stakeholders around you.”

“I’m very lucky to be surrounded by passionate people who want to solve customer problems, it’s easy for me to get buy in from senior stakeholders across the bank.”

This might not be the case in other enterprise businesses, so be sure to identify who your key stakeholders are and commit to regular communication.

Being patient in introducing the concepts you have and methodologies you want to implement

Take your time in understanding what your business does today and where it is they want to go.

“We build some amazing innovative solutions in Santander, but this wasn’t done by coming in and reforming those solutions, it was about making adjustments.”

Learn more about introducing user-centric processes into your business

In this article, we’ve touched upon business mindset and approaching user research. To hear more about how Santander involve stakeholders in their research and tips on gaining insights and feedback watch our free, on-demand webinar with Bobby.

You’ll learn things like:

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