Video Series: Real-time Payments Product and Design—How to Make the Most for Your Customers


June 17, 2019



This video blog series covers the design and product aspects of real-time payments and how to create a delightful and intuitive experience for your customers. Throughout the series we’ll provide answers to frequently asked questions, like how exactly design fits into the RTP equation, considerations for enhancing existing products or creating new ones, where Design Thinking and User Experience (UX) fit in, how to find product opportunities if design thinking is not an existing competency on your team, and more.

Also see our real-time payments strategy and decision making vlog series.

Episode 1: The Meaning of Design and Its Impact on Real-time Payments

Episode 1 Transcription

Devin Smith: What does design have to do with RTP? The great thing about design is that it’s really just you applying intentionality to what you’re doing. And you are deciding how something is going to play out. And you want to decide how your RTP implementation is going to play out. You want to design what that’s going to be like for the people that are using it, and you want to be able to decide how that experience should work and feel for everybody involved in the transaction.

That begins with asking ourselves customer-oriented questions. Your customer is essentially going to have certain things that they need to accomplish in a day, and you have to fit into that. So, if you are dealing with somebody in small business they have things that they’re trying to accomplish, and you’re just a small part of what they need to do, and you need to figure out how to make that as great an experience as possible, because you want, when they walk away from that, to feel like they got their tasks done, and it was enjoyable.

So, how do you solve real problems that they have? And when they are actually trying to use your RTP implementation you don’t want them to come away feeling frustrated, you don’t want them to come away thinking that things were easier the old way, you want this to be something that they walk away feeling like, “How did I ever do without this in my life?”

Is your financial institution ready for real-time payments? Find out with our 2020 Real-time Payments Readiness Report.

You want to be able to track how people think about their problems now. You don’t just want to think about the actual need to make a payment or to transfer some money. You want to think about, “What is the higher level problem that they’re trying to solve with that?” Maybe they’re a restaurant or they’re a store owner, they’re trying to buy product, they’re getting a shipment, they need a payment to clear for them in a certain amount of time, so that they can make sure that they pay other people on time.

That’s the real problem that you’re solving for them and you want to understand those problems, because if you do then you can cater your service to be able to speak to those problems and people are a lot more willing to buy when you understand their actual problems and not just try to push them product.

So, when you speak their language they say, “I identify with that, I want to buy that.” And so, being able to abstract yourself a step away from your actual product or service to the problem that your customer has, is the best way to be able to figure out not only how to structure the product, but also how to market it.

So, you want to ask, “How are people currently solving their problems?” A lot of times people have things that they’re doing right now to complete a task or to solve a problem that they have. You want to be able to find out the areas of solving that problem that are suboptimal.

Use our 2019 RTP Implementation Checklist to help guide your decisions and ensure you are on the right track.

So, if they have an issue with the way that they’re doing it now that maybe, causes something to clear too late and puts them in a cashflow crunch, or something to that affect, you want to make sure that you’re understanding your opportunities to come in and be the hero. To come in there and to inject something that they say, “Wow, this is a much better solution to what I’m doing now.”

Because everybody has inertia with what they’re doing. They may not even like it, but they’ve been doing it for a long time and they think that it works, and you’ve got to overcome the barrier, you’ve got to overcome the inertia to get somebody to leave the solution they have now, as suboptimal as it may be, to adopt your better solution.

And so, being able to map out how people solve their problems now, and to understand where the pain points are, are where you find out where your opportunities are.

Episode 2: Designing for the Customer Experience and Use Cases

Episode 2 Transcription

Greg Lloyd: Design is important for RTP because it’s a brand new rail, and that presents a huge new opportunity for financial services, and all those across the ecosystem, and anyone that touch payments. Design and design thinking methodologies help look at new problems and new opportunities from a fresh perspective and help ensure you look at it from a broad perspective. Understanding how it impacts customers’ daily lives, how it impacts a business daily life and how it impacts everything across an ecosystem so that you don’t miss opportunities.

Many banks are still working through this, particularly the first wave of banks that were early adopters of RTP. They launched more the RTP capability, the ability to receive funds, the ability to send funds, and now they’re starting to work on use cases and specific customer experiences. We see more of the late wave one and the wave two banks starting to be more specific about how they view RTP impacting their customers and the customer experiences and the products they offer.

Is your financial institution ready for real-time payments? Find out with our 2020 Real-time Payments Readiness Report.

This is about seeing and being able to seize the full potential of RTP. It’s really important to make sure you look at, again, specific experiences. Look at specific customer segments, look at specific areas of your business and what experiences and services you want to offer to those specific areas. And again, that’s where design methodologies and design thinking come into play because they help put you in the mindset of a specific group. Whether it be a small business or a high net worth individual or low net worth individual, whoever it might be.

Leverage these types of methodologies to help ensure you’re looking at this from each of their points of view and spending dedicated time on each specific set or segment of customers and products so that you don’t miss an opportunity. And even if you don’t want to go after all of them at first at least you’re being proactive about which ones you want to go after and which ones you don’t want to go after and you don’t get six months down the road and realize you missed something or you missed the largest business opportunity that RTP could offer for you and your customers.

Episode 3: Enhancing Existing Products and Creating New Ones

Episode 3 Transcription

Greg Lloyd: When you’re trying to decide how to enhance your existing products or whether to offer any new products as part of your RTP implementation, I’d recommend a two fold approach. First go broad, but also get personal. As far as broad, I mean that you need to look at all areas of your institution in all areas of your bank. If you have multiple lines of business, for example, a retail bank and a small business bank, look at both of those. Also within each of those, look at all the product lines and services you offer. Look at checking, savings, look at your card portfolio, look at your loan portfolio. Look at all of those different groups of customers within all of those lines of business. There’s potential opportunities in all of them and so it’s critical to make sure you look across the board so you know what are the opportunities you have before you and you can make a proactive decision to go after the correct ones first.

Use our 2019 RTP Implementation Checklist to help guide your decisions and ensure you are on the right track.

Secondly, get personal, get deep. By that I mean you need to understand who you are as an institution and what customers you serve. Certain institutions, for example, a community bank, they thrive on that community feeling. Credit unions are very personal and have very deep feeling about their members. Understand who you are and what type of customers you serve and what you bring to them because that should influence how you view RTP. If you view yourself as more of a community bank with more personal relationships, then go about that and looking at customer sets from a very personal point of view. For example, let’s say you have a small business bank and a large set of those customers are professional services and specifically law firms. Think about what law firms do. They deal with escrow payments a lot. Or for example, think about closing some commercial real estate transaction.

For example, in a commercial real estate transaction, it’s highly complex. You usually have a multitude of entities that were involved with building the commercial real estate. You may have restrictions or implications for lessors where you need certain number of lessors signed to complete an agreement. You may have multiple buyers and there may be multiple law firms for each. And so as you look at that, you think about all the complexity that goes into a transaction like that. Now again, getting personal and thinking about you as an institution. If you serve a lot of law firms, think about the customer experience that you can offer around real-time payments. Think about designing some sort of portal that is available for your customers only, but also they can grant access to external entities. So for example, the builders or others who are not clients of your institution can log in and see what’s going on with the real-time payments tied with this real estate deal.

Is your financial institution ready for real-time payments? Find out with our 2020 Real-time Payments Readiness Report.

Offering those types of experiences can be extremely powerful. And that’s where if you know what type of institution you are and what type of customers you serve and what you offer them, that puts you in the best positions then to go deep into different sets and really offer something unique that will not only make your current customers happy, but has the potential to make you a leader in that particular segment or with that particular product line where you have the opportunity to and bring in new customers. Lastly, I’ll leave you with a recommendation to listen. Listen to your customers, listen to your product managers. Listen to those both within your organization as well as outside your organization. I guarantee they’ve got ideas as all of these people, particularly your product managers and your technology product managers, they go through their daily lives dealing with problems, seeing opportunities, having ideas. Talk to them, listen to them, listen to their ideas, get them talking, get them sharing, and I guarantee you will also come up with a lot of great product enhancements or new product ideas out of that.

Episode 4: The Role of Design Thinking

Episode 4 Transcription

Devin Smith: We think that design thinking brings a lot to this exercise of trying to understand the problems that you’re solving for your customers and being able to chart out what you want that new experience to be. And we have some specific activities that we think you should engage in to be able to get the answers that you need. If you don’t know what design thinking is, it’s essentially taking the principles of design, and remember, design is just applying an intentionality to creating something. And so you’re trying to, instead of just thinking about that and the normal terms that we think of design, to apply it to everything. So you’re applying an intentional design to what you’re doing with your implementation. And so you want to also have a repeatable process, and design thinking gives you that. There are specific activities that you can use that you can repeat to be able to find good solutions for your customers.

Just by going through the process and going through the methods, you know that you’re following something that’s tried and true as opposed to trying to figure it out every single time. So, as always, I recommend starting with listening. I think that if you’re gonna create a great solution, you’ve got to start with listening to your customers and understanding where their pain points are, as I mentioned before. And the way that we recommend doing that is to start with a qualitative data. Do user interviews, do customer interviews, and the best way to find out how people are thinking about their problems is not to add, not to sit there, necessarily, and start with walking through an existing implementation. It’s to start with a simple script and to start asking them questions about what their process is like, what is their day job like?

Use our 2019 RTP Implementation Checklist to help guide your decisions and ensure you are on the right track.

How does their day job require them to engage with making payments and to be able to understand where their pain points are there. You can get all of that out of an interview and if you wind up walking through them using their software through that, that’s fine. That’s called contextual inquiry. We highly recommend that as well. But don’t think that you have to do high flying user research in order to get some of these answers. You can have a simple script and just talk to people and get them to open up about what their day-to-day is like and where your stuff can can fit in. Will it begin to emerge as you watch them talk about their lives. The other thing that recommend is journey mapping. And so when you’re doing interviews, you’re going to be getting data.

You want to record all of that. We highly recommend having more than one person doing these things so that you can actually listen and engage while somebody else is taking the notes. And we think that you can take that stuff, and this is our process, we take that information and we create journey maps with that. So we actually create a visual representation of that person’s journey, and we look at how all of those things match up. We will oftentimes take a lot of qualitative interviews and see where the points go together. And that’s called synthesis. We will see where the points go together and then we make a visualization of that. And we also highlight the pain points at the different points in the map. So that makes it easy for anybody to take a look and to see how somebody solves a problem today, where it’s going well, where it’s not going well, where it starts, all of the meandering steps in between and how it ends.

Is your financial institution ready for real-time payments? Find out with our 2020 Real-time Payments Readiness Report.

That’s really easy to show to a stakeholder. One of the hardest problems to solve is to communicate, where an opportunity is to somebody else that wasn’t there, didn’t hear it for themselves. And a journey map provides a really quick visual way for people to see a journey and to understand where it’s not going well. So the third thing that we recommend is to utilize quantitative data. We think that being able to fill out the story with the use of metrics, adoption rates, et cetera, is going to be able to help you understand what is anecdotal and what is a big problem. You don’t want to ignore anecdotes, but you want to make sure that you understand the qualitative finite information that you’re finding from these intimate interviews that you’re having and how they compare with everything else that is coming in that will help you to make sure that you’re not making decisions off of too small of a dataset.

But I will say that if you can’t get to quantitative data initially, it’s not a problem. If you start with qualitative data, it’s always better to start. And we highly recommend that you get to it if you can. But don’t let it stop you. So if you have a large base of heavy manufacturing clients for your commercial bank, you should use design thinking to understand that business and how money moves at a detailed level. So you want to identify the players you want to list every time money moves and why. Draw step by step how people interact in each scenario. And so you can understand the process, but you need to also understand how people feel about that.

So you take that further by interviewing a sampling of those folks to understand their perspective on those activities. And then you can understand the pain points, and you can uncover the big wins for RTP by asking the right questions and synthesizing that data to uncover the patterns. So you want to be able to understand exactly where your opportunity is. These are steps that you can take to uncover that information. And remember, if people could tell you what they really want, they would, but people can’t, which is why it’s on you to do a good job of listening to ask the right questions, and to be able to synthesize on the back end where the opportunities are. And that’s going to help you to be able to find out how you can win.

Episode 5: User Experience (UX) Considerations

Episode 5 Transcription

Greg Lloyd: UX is important for RTP because it’s a new rail. It’s a new capability and you have to drive adoption. You can cannot count on customers just coming in because they always do. You need to lead them to adopt it. So it needs to be intuitive. It needs to be easy to use. You need to think about self service capabilities. RTP is also about straight-through processing. Everything should be automated. This is different than ACH or wire where there’s more manual effort required. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just a different rail. But as part of that, you have to recognize that again, things should be more automated. There shouldn’t be manual effort in things. So you think about your customer experience and the UX side of things. Make it intuitive, make it easy for a customer to go in and do what they want.

Use our 2019 RTP Implementation Checklist to help guide your decisions and ensure you are on the right track.

Make sure the error messages or other messaging you display to customers is easy. Make sure that you’re not presenting something that will lead them to call in customer service or to try to do something, again, when you know what will work. Also think about self service, display messaging, and provide suggestions. Maybe this payment failed. “Hey, we’re going to route it through ACH. Give us this information and we’ll do it.” Or maybe give them the opportunity to come back later and give them a reminder. “Hey, this failed. Come back in two hours and submit it again.” Also, think about the customer experience around specific use cases. Don’t make them have to call in for fringe use cases or more complicated cases. Make it as easy as possible for them to self service. Spend the money to design the right customer experience and have the right UX—this is critical. It will be well worth it if you do because this is what will drive adoption and RTP presents a huge opportunity to all financial institutions and the entire ecosystem of payments, and so you don’t want to be left behind. Make sure you put forth the right effort to really seize the full opportunity that this can present to you and your institution.

Devin Smith: What about the UX side of things? Well, you want to create surprise and delight in the process if you can, and even with the most mundane thing. So we would think a lot of times that things like this, people don’t have the same level of care about the experience that they may have in something that they would buy as a consumer. But you’ve got to remember that you’re still dealing with humans. You’re still dealing with the same people. And we actually can’t get away from the fact that we like things that are made well. We like beauty. We like things that make us feel good. And so if you can incorporate those things, even in a business to business application, I mean, you want to do it in a consumer experience. You kind of have to. But in a business environment, that helps you stand out.

Is your financial institution ready for real-time payments? Find out with our 2020 Real-time Payments Readiness Report.

And so you want to be able to think about how you can create delight for people and not just within a piece of software, you want to be able to do it across the board. So in your tech products and your customer service, in your relationship management, you want to think about the total customer experience. But all of that feeds into actual digital user experience. And people are going to form opinions about that experience based on their other interactions with you. And so you want to make sure that all of those things are working for you and not against you.

See more from our Financial Services team:

Authored By

Devin Smith, Vice President, Strategy

Devin Smith

Vice President, Strategy

Greg Lloyd, Vice President, Strategy

Greg Lloyd

Vice President, Strategy

Meet our Experts

Devin Smith, Vice President, Strategy

Devin Smith

Vice President, Strategy

Devin helps guide strategic direction at Levvel. He brings 20 years of experience in design, advertising, and development across a range of industries, including financial services, e-commerce, retail, and automotive. Having a passion for connecting design principles to business, he has led teams at multiple companies with an emphasis on driving growth through relentless dedication to quality and serving customers. He uses design thinking to provide a holistic, customer-centered, and cross-functional approach to solving real business problems.

Greg Lloyd, Vice President, Strategy

Greg Lloyd

Vice President, Strategy

Greg is the Vice President of Strategy at Levvel where he is responsible for helping drive Levvel’s enterprise strategy, and aligning and executing the strategy across the organization. Previously, Greg was a Senior Director in Levvel’s Financial Services & Payments Practice, holding a variety of responsibilities including managing key accounts and partnerships, leading large-scale engagements, and providing deep banking and payments expertise to our clients. Prior to Levvel, Greg held a variety of financial services roles at Bank of America, eSpeed/Cantor Fitzgerald, and Reuters. Greg holds an M.B.A. from the Darden School at the University of Virginia and a B.S. from the College of William and Mary. He currently resides in Charlotte, NC with his wife and four children.

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