Capital One emphasizes the power of human-centered design at VB Transform 2023

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“Everyone notices bad design, we maybe just don’t know to label it as such,” says Daniela Jorge, chief design officer at Capital One. “But we get frustrated when something doesn’t work the way that it should, and we get very positively surprised when something not only does the job that it’s supposed to do, but even more — something unexpected that makes your life easier or better.”

Jorge dove into the way human-centered design must drive data-driven experiences with Sharon Goldman, senior writer at VentureBeat, during VB Transform 2023.

Design, she says, boils down to the way humans interface with the world — and should always have the goal of developing solutions that remove friction and make interactions smoother and easier. The same applies to the way we must develop generative AI experiences. It will not only play a role in the way humans use AI tools, but in developing tools for the data scientists and engineers who are creating the AI.

What human-centered design looks like

“When we’re seeking to design solutions, we really look to understand customers and their context,” Jorge says. “Really, really understand their full financial lives — how they make decisions, who are all of the decision-makers in their household.”

These kinds of solutions aren’t limited to online — they may have offline components, since they’re built to address the way humans travel through the world, and how they get their needs met. For instance, Capital One developed Add Cash In-Store, which allows users to add cash to their 360 Checking account at any CVS retail store location.

“If you think about someone who perhaps primarily gets paid in cash, or part of their income is paid in cash, they have this pain point where they then have to deposit that cash into their account so that they can pay bills, shop online — and the innovation [was] understanding that there was an extra step for someone who’s getting paid in cash,” she explains. “So not only are they able to get their shopping done, but they’re also able to deposit their cash, then have access to their cash and their bank account and have access to digital solutions like Bill Pay and online shopping.”

The company has developed another tool to address the anxiety that many people experience around their finances, particularly when making a big purchase like travel. Consumers worry they’re not spending their money wisely if they’re not getting the best price. Capital One Travel was designed to ease that experience with tools that offer price prediction and price freezes, remove some of that anxiety and as Jorge said, empower the customer to know they’re actually making the right decision when booking travel.

Pivoting to human-centered design

Jorge pointed to a human-centered design framework developed by Intuit with the support of behavioral economists. The goal was to nail down which components of a customer experience impact a company’s net promoter score. Three in particular rose to the top: delivering value to a customer, ease of use and positive emotion.

“They found that if you could hit on all of those factors, it accounted for 75% variance on that net promoter [score],” Jorge says. “But again, to actually achieve all of that you have to put the customer at the center. You have to understand humans, you have to understand their needs, you have to understand how to deliver value. It’s still really important to have that deep understanding of your customer before you work on AI solutions.”

Going forward, however, AI will eventually become the heart of human-centered design, similar to the way data unlocked much more targeted design. As Jorge pointed out, AI will be far more successful in identifying a customer, their pain points, their needs and their wants at any given point in an experience.

 “In designing products, what we have to do is understand broad segments of users and then find common patterns, and design for those,” she explained. “So with AI, I think there’s that opportunity to have a much more one-to-one solution between human and system.”


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