Americans have trouble saving money. Millennials in particular (adults under the age of 35) are in poor shape, with an average savings rate of negative two percent. This means they are spending more money than they have at any given moment, and not building any savings.
Today’s established and emerging customer service channels can be used for more than troubleshooting customer problems. They can engage, educate, and even turn aspects of your business into a game for customers to play. This trend is known as gamification.
A top financial services organization decided to leverage its customer service channels to help users save money (and increase their user adoption) by providing them with a way to track and understand their finances so they could develop long-term healthy savings habits.
Millennials, those most in need of savings guidance, carry around a game portal in their pocket: their mobile phone. According to the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of U.S. adults have a cellphone, and 90 percent frequently have their phone with them. Knowing this, the company designed the first proactive virtual assistant for banking on mobile devices.
The virtual assistant needed to provide three key aspects: 1) a learning process, first to allow users to understand where they stand financially and how to save money before moving on to more complex concepts; 2) guidance explained in step-by-step directions and understandable terms; 3) tools for users to stay motivated in practicing good spending habits.
The financial services organization used five design principles to provide these three aspects:
- Identify a player “journey” – Define a conceptual path “players” can follow through the “game.” From a player’s first interaction (called onboarding), there should be a storyline and clear sense of progression.
- Balance – Systems need to offer the right amount of choices (too many causes paralysis, and too few makes it feel constrained), and tasks need to be designed so they don’t cause frustration by being too hard, but not too easy that it becomes boring.
- Integrated Experience – All aspects of the system need to be designed in unison: the color palette, the avatar animations, the audio effects, and the system’s voice. This is because they all need to work in harmony to provide a cohesive customer experience.
- Emotions – Systems need to tap into “player’s” emotions. Users need to relate to the various features, and activities needed to be relevant (e.g. getting married, having a baby, buying their first home). They also need to focus on the positive aspects of these experiences.
- Fun – Self-service systems can be FUN. And yes, fun can be designed. That means including points, levels, and badges, as well as leaderboards, quests, avatars, and rewards.
The company used a virtual assistant to turn saving money into an enjoyable experience. Now customers are able to develop not only healthy savings habits, but also learn what to do with that money to increase their financial security over the long-haul.