Tesco bank: Design research

Imagine understanding how your customers make decisions

Tesco Bank were planning a complete redesign of their website. They asked Modern Human to help them understand how people really choose financial products.

Supermarket banks have three unique advantages. First, most people spend more time in a supermarket than they do on the high street, which means supermarkets have more time to promote their financial services than the average bank. Second, according to the Edelman Trust Index, supermarket retailers inspire far more trust in consumers than traditional financial service providers. Third, they have an established and extensive branch network with ample free parking.

Expectations of supermarket retailers are higher too. People expect a supermarket to integrate physical and digital channels.It is assumed that a supermarket retailer will know how to provide service across touchpoints.

When Tesco Bank planned to completely redesign their online product communications they asked Modern Human to explore how people really choose financial products. We knew instinctively that people’s financial decision making was imperfect. Despite what classic economic theory may tell us, we know that people don’t always make rational decisions, even about rational subjects. So what was the basis for their decision making, and what models could we extrapolate from it in order to guide the redesign of a bank’s product communications?

“Design research helped us understand how customers choose financial products, and how they want us to talk about them. It was clear that we needed to craft an experience tailored to their needs, to help us communicate with them in a more meaningful way.”
Grant Bourbousson, Digital and Marketing Director

We conducted ethnographic research with people looking for particular financial products in order to identify opportunities for the redesign of the Tesco Bank website. We conducted diary studies with research participants from a variety of backgrounds, asking them to record every time they completed a task that was related to choosing a product. Each diary study was carefully tailored for the product it was investigating. This gave us an unprecedented view of the decision making process in relation to these products. We got to see what people really did, instead of what they thought they did.

The ethnography provided a very clear indication as to the role of the Tesco Bank website in a potential customer’s decision making process. This in turn enabled us to clearly identify 6 points in the decision making process in which the site has a role to play. From there, we were able to make recommendations as to how best the site should facilitate someone’s decision making.

We saw how people exhibited satisficing or maximising behaviour and how this influenced their eventual choice of product. We got to see how much time people dedicated to the task of choosing their financial product and how rigorously they timeboxed their activity. We witnessed the shortcuts they took in their decision making, and observed how the paradox of choice, serendipity and anchor pricing influenced their decisions. We examined how couples made decisions, and how activities were delegated between them. We investigated the influence of trusted friends, of reviews and of social media.

In order to demonstrate our research findings Modern Human produced a set of behavioural profiles and a set of experience models. The behavioural profiles are archetypes of users. Each profile describes a set of needs, motivations, attitudes and expectations. The experience models then map the goals of a particular behavioural profile throughout the decision making process, and the specific tasks that they complete to accomplish those goals.

In addition to the formal deliverables we also produced a 3 minute video that helped disseminate the key research findings throughout the business, as well as a deck of 34 cards that presented the key findings in a portable format. The cards were designed to be used in meetings. Each featured a key insight, a brief explanation, and a set of pointers to other cards, so that individual insights could be chained together to form a narrative about the design research. We have since been told that the cards were extremely helpful during meetings to facilitate important decisions

Modern Human’s design research inspired Tesco Bank as they redesigned their website. It brought them closer to the goals and decision making processes of their customers, and revealed how people really choose financial products. You can read Grant Bourbousson’s blog post about the redesign of their website on the Tesco Bank blog.