Change your CU’s approach to innovation through empathy

The best product innovation strategies are cyclical. You might even say product design in the digital era is never really finished. While such a notion can feel intimidating, it’s actually quite workable, even for organizations without a deep bench of product people.

In my experience, the most effective of these strategies is human-centered design, a philosophy rooted in the same value system as credit unions. Human-centered design starts and “ends” (though it never truly ends) with empathy and context. Through qualitative research, mainly one-on-one conversations and/or job shadows with prospective users to understand their pains, gains, needs, and jobs to be done, product designers gain empathy for the people they ultimately hope to serve. At the same time, they gather contextual expertise by engaging a series of personas across the spectrum of potential users.

Stepping into Members’ Shoes

Take a digital lending solution, for example. Designing a feature like an intuitive payment calculator requires an understanding of what’s most important to potential auto loan borrowers. A first-time car buyer may be most interested in comparing monthly payments across different loan terms, whereas a seasoned car buyer may want to calculate a payment that includes GAP or credit insurance. Putting themselves squarely in the shoes of eventual users is critical to guiding designers through things like features, navigation, and third-party integration best suited to the personas pertinent to the credit union’s strategic business goals.


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