Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Top 5 Customer Insights from CGAP’s work in Human-Centered Design

By Claudia McKay, Yanina Seltzer

In the past three years as CGAP has tried using human-centered design (HCD) to learn from and design better products and services for customers, we have visited fishing villages in Indonesia, talked to traders on the streets of Kumasi, and visited hundreds of agents. We have had coffee at people’s homes, observed religious ceremonies, and talked to local leaders about community planning for weddings.
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One of the most powerful things about HCD is that it uncovers people-level insights that have systems-level impact. By having intense conversations with hundreds of low-income people across emerging markets, CGAP developed an understanding of their financial aspira­tions, fears, and mindsets. These in turn produced thousands of data points which were the first step in a chain of events:

- We distilled the data points into representative patterns;
- The patterns prompted creative brainstorming sessions;
- The brainstorming sessions led to hundreds of concepts for potential financial products and services;
- The concepts resulted in iterative prototypes.

Finally, at the end of this process, we arrived at financial products and services ready to be deployed in the market. These insights about people’s lives and behavior – the “data points”- are central to the design process. We were surprised by how consistent and similar the insights were throughout the 8 markets we worked in. Here are some of the top critical customer insights we learned from across our projects:

Cash works. It’s all about control. “With cash you can’t spend what you don’t have,” said Sueli in Brazil. Globally, cash is one thing that people understand and trust. It provides limits, and seeing what is left over after spending leads people to make better financial decisions. Cash works seamlessly for daily transactions and people are already used to transacting with it.

Communities pool resources for financial and emotional support. We hear this consistently; low-income people feel more comfortable investing in their communities and their neighbors, because they know they will have a built-in support system in their own time of need. Most communities already have informal financial services groups, groups that integrate easily into people’s lives and offer functional, financial, emotional, and community support. People know that if they give a gift for a friend’s wedding or funeral, they will eventually be repaid in one form or another.

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