By Sean Harper, CEO and co-founder at Kin Insurance.
Conversations about fintech tend to focus on either the financial or the technological aspects of new products or services. That’s understandable; those are the core components of the industry. But founders and other leaders in the space need to be aware of a third component that can make or break their success: emotion.
Specifically, the emotions of customers and prospective customers play a big role in how they perceive and interact with fintech brands, and ultimately in whether they use or stop using the products and services those brands offer. Here’s a look at why emotions matter so much in fintech and how fintech brands can be sure they’re acting with awareness of their customers’ emotional needs.
Background: Money Is Personal
One thing I love about the rise of fintech is the parallel rise of personal finance content. Content marketing is a powerful way for fintech brands to compete with better-funded incumbents, and many have embraced it as part of a larger effort to attract customers and reshape their space.
The result for consumers is that there’s more personal finance information out there than ever about how to invest, save, spend, pay down debt and more. But the very abundance of this information also speaks to a larger reality: Most of us struggle with some part of our finances. The reason? We are, for the most part, not rational about money.
Money is deeply personal. We’d rather talk about death than our finances. And money matters are often tied to strong emotions: pride, shame, security, worry, empowerment, fear, etc.
This isn’t to say fintechs’ efforts to demystify money are worthless or unhelpful. They’re definitely necessary. But they have to exist within the larger reality that most people won’t learn how to do something the most logical or practical way and then immediately switch their habits — even if it translates to better financial outcomes. Here’s a look at how fintechs can adapt to that reality to better serve their customers.
Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Your Name
Naming a company is hard. That’s doubly true for those in fintech, where brands want to convey strength and win trust as well as evoke a specific emotion.
Still, when brands get it right, the effect can be powerful. No-fee trading platform Robinhood, for example, tells a whole story with its name: We take from the rich and give to the poor. Ditto for peer-to-peer lender Prosper, whose name promises to help customers, well, prosper.
With Kin, we aimed to convey the fact that we’re like family — because who better to help you protect your home than your family?
The takeaway: Don’t ignore the emotional component of your fintech startup’s name. If your current name is emotionally lacking, don’t be afraid to consider a rebrand. Such efforts can be time- and resource-intensive, but they can also make the rest of your marketing and sales efforts easier because your name will be doing much heavier lifting.
Optimize The Brand Experience
When you’re trying to get an MVP out the door, you may not have the time or resources to spend thinking about the messages your brand sends. But when you’re iterating on your offering, part of that process should involve revisiting the user experience.
As you tackle this process, bring in experts. There’s a reason the red notification circle on your smartphone makes you want to tap into your apps: It’s designed to. It was carefully crafted by designers who have a deep understanding of which visual signals trigger emotional responses and, ultimately, action.
The same should be true for your brand’s visuals, the language you use, the flow of your website or app, and the rest of your brand experience.
The takeaway: As you grow and expand your company, understand the emotional power of your brand. Tap into the power of experts to help you develop its visual, textual and UX components so that they trigger the kinds of emotional responses you want your customers to associate with your brand.
Design For The Worst Day Of Your Customers’ Lives
So much of the language and messaging around fintech is aspirational: Protect your home, achieve your financial goals, handle this or that transaction more easily, etc. That’s great — it reflects the reality of what we want to help customers accomplish.
But what we have to remember when we design and discuss our products and services is that they should work well for the worst days of our customers’ lives. The day when their home is ruined by a hurricane and they need to make an insurance claim. When a serious illness hits and they have to withdraw money unexpectedly from their brokerage account. When they lose their job and have to apply for a short-term microloan.
We have to design for times when emotions run high and the smallest inconvenience or malfunction can cause serious anger, frustration and distress.
The takeaway: To accommodate the high emotions that often accompany financial difficulty, make sure your offering includes:
• Intuitive digital interfaces, responsive screens, smart workflows, etc.
• Clear language with clear to-dos for users, both on your site and in any communications you send.
• Human support. Stressed-out people don’t want to deal with endless phone chains or chatbots.
For Best Results In Fintech, Plan For Emotions
Many of us are driven to launch fintech companies because we see practical ways to solve financial problems with technology. But as we think about growing our customer base and helping as many people as possible with our products, we have to acknowledge the reality that there’s more to finances than clear-cut problems and logical solutions.
To serve our customers, it’s essential that fintech brands acknowledge that money is tied to deep-seated emotions. We need to design user experiences that accommodate these emotions and offer support for people experiencing them as they handle various aspects of their financial lives.