Part 2: Saving is hard: Giving “gaming” a twist by providing financial education

Consumers now expect exceptional customer experience at every turn. Companies need to embrace technology to provide a fun and effortless journey to meet user needs. A top financial services organization realized its users were having trouble saving money, so they turned an intimidating task into a gamified experience for users to earn rewards and challenge themselves. Discover how it created a real connection with customers using a “Financial Coach” virtual assistant, and learn how you could implement the same changes to provide a fun experience that will keep customers coming back again and again.
Consumers now expect exceptional customer experience at every turn, so best your competition with technology that provides a fun and effortless journey to meet user needs.

In my last blog post, I focused on the five design principles a top financial services company used to develop a gamified approach to help customers develop healthy savings habits: identify a player “journey,” use balance, provide an integrated experience, leverage emotions, and focus on fun. Keeping these principles in mind, the company needed to take the next step to design its “Financial Coach” virtual assistant. Here are the gamification techniques that were integrated into its system to provide an engaging experience:

Onboarding – The first-time user experience was created to be a “fool-proof” interaction that serves multiple purposes. It introduces you to the “coach,” sets expectations about what the system can do, gives a basic intro to savings and rewards, and applies smart defaults to get users to sign up for recurring transfers right from the onset.

Rewards schedule – The company uses a combination of ratios and intervals to control the reward system. Rewards happen at a certain point every time to drive consistency and reliance, such as getting a point for every dollar saved (called fixed ratio rewards). Rewards also happen after doing the same thing a certain number of times, such as when a user completes three challenges in a row (called variable ratio rewards). To add extra intrigue, rewards that happen after a specified time such as on the user’s birthday (called fixed interval rewards) and rewards in a seemingly random way to surprise users (such as if a user opens the app three days in a row) were included.

Medals – For the collector in all of us, the system implemented a system of “badges” that are linked to actions it wants to reinforce. By locking certain badges, users are teased and appealed to through their sense of completion and competition. This gives an extra avenue to educate users on savings techniques.

Challenges – Challenges were designed that set targeted goals relevant for the audience, were small enough to be achievable, and moved users along a path to change their habits. The company defined different frequencies and durations for each, and in the case where a user fails a challenge, focus on the positive achievements and encourages users to try again.

Notifications – Push notifications are used to provide proactive reminders and alerts when users are not active in the application. The company defined different priority levels and frequency rules, focusing on actionable items and personalized content, making sure to not overwhelm users. The same notifications are presented within the application and include a call to action.

With the pilot test of this Financial Coach, millennials collectively saved $120,000 and out of the users that downloaded the app, fifty-seven percent enrolled in the automatic savings plan (a “pay yourself first” challenge).

Providing an exceptional customer experience is not an option anymore. Customers are driving the need to embrace technology in new ways. Gamification can be applied to the design of any self-service system to help drive user adoption and provide a positive long-term effect on user behaviors. Start creating a real connection with your customers the way they want it – through a fun, engaging experience.

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Eduardo Olvera

About Eduardo Olvera

Eduardo Olvera is a Senior UI Manager & Global Discipline Leader at Nuance Communications. His work on many international English, Spanish and French voice user interfaces for such industry leading corporations as US Airways, Wells Fargo, Ford, Walgreens, Telefonica Movistar, Bank of America, Fidelity, US Bank, Geico, Vanguard, Samsung, Virgin, MetroPCS, Sprint, and Sempra, give him a deep understanding of the user and business challenges of mobile, multilingual and multimodal application design, development and implementation.