Depending on your age, you probably remember the days when getting ketchup out of its bottle could be a Herculean task. Smacking just the right spot below the neck of an inverted glass bottle got the ketchup to loosen, but the ability to locate that spot and hit it with just the right amount of force was a rare talent. While those who possessed it likely enjoyed the admiration of their friends and family, the rest of us could get so irritated we’d just give up and go without the delicious condiment.
That’s what you call a bad product experience.
For a good while, consumers simply had to put up with bad product experiences. That all changed when the consumer marketplace exploded with competition. Suddenly, people had choices. Just as suddenly, companies were forced to pay much closer attention to how stakeholders received their products. Throw the internet age into the mix and a bad product experience transformed from an isolated incident with relatively little impact to a potentially viral juggernaut that could take down a brand.
When the Kraft Heinz Company realized the criticality of consumer experience, it completely reengineered its ketchup bottle through a process known as human-centered design. Human-centered design is an iterative process during which builders focus on user needs in every single phase. The idea is to address the whole user experience by having a strong grip on context and drawing on the powers of empathy.
The reengineered ketchup bottle’s hand grip and holding space make it easier to get ketchup out, but it also satisfies another problem some customers had complained about: not being able to get the last drop out of the bottle.
Credit union innovators can take inspiration from the reinvention of the ketchup bottle for a couple of reasons. First, it’s proof that legacy companies can and do innovate. In other words, you don’t have to be a digital-native fintech to reimagine a product or experience. Second, ketchup is not, in and of itself, anything new – like the many financial services offered by credit unions and their competitors. But by listening and building empathy for users, legacy organizations, including credit unions, can reignite consumer love for mainstay products.
The “how” of this reignition centers on the principles of human-centered design. Our team of innovators at AdvantEdge Digital, a CUNA Strategic Services alliance provider, recently developed a six-step process for product development that pulls from these principles. It’s one we’ve proven through the recent iterative build of a digital lending solution for credit unions.
The process is cyclical with no real beginning or end. Sure, it kicks off with the building of a strong research-backed foundation. But, even after launch, we are still researching, analyzing, and inputting user feedback to improve the solution.
We follow these six steps:
Any credit union can emulate this process. It can be applied to both the development of entirely new products, services, and experiences, as well as the reengineering of existing ones. There is also flexibility around partnering. Some credit unions may have the resources to work with an outside research firm, but that’s not necessary to kick off the process. Coordinating a series of one-to-one conversations with members can reveal actionable insights.
Of the many philosophies great innovators have used to bring their ideas to life, human-centered design is the most closely aligned with credit union values. Keeping employees and members at the heart of everything credit unions do is so engrained that it may not even seem all that innovative. The key is to grab that traditional human-centricity and retool it for the modern era, using it to power continuously improving financial services for millions of members.
AdvantEdge Digital is releasing a series of briefs for credit union innovators on how to apply the principles of human-centered design within a credit union environment. Access “Part 1: Deploying Strategic Research and Uncovering Meaningful Patterns.”
MICHEAL HERMAN is president of CUNA Mutual Group’s AdvantEdge Digital.