How can you incorporate emotions in fintech products? Can emotions help create more trusting relationships between financial products and their users?

People often separate emotions from logic, as if they are mutually exclusive events that occur in different parts of the human body. They are supposed to be at odds. People think the intellect holds the unruliness and unpredictability of our emotions. However, others see that the rational mind requires warmth to understand what’s going on.

Philosopher Tom Chochrane says that both postures are equally wrong. “Where they are potentially confusing is if they suggest that emotions and reason are two separate sources of agency vying for supremacy.” Both emotions and reason are two resources that allow humans to expand their vision. They work different, yes, but they also work together.
Why are we talking about emotions?

On any average day, we experience a wide range of emotions. It doesn’t matter if it’s anger, happiness, empathy or frustration. We use them all to navigate through our lives. And, although we may have not been aware of it, we use emotions to interact with technology as well. Some of these reactions have been designed to improve your experience. Others are completely unintentional, and may produce positive or negative outcomes.

How can you create an emotional experience when users interact with your products? What steps do you need to take to structure your product around this?

What Is Emotional Design?

In his book “Emotional Design: Why We Love (Or Hate) Everyday Things“, author Don Norman explains how people connect to objects on a daily basis through emotions. The emotional reactions divide into three groups: visceral, behavioral and reflective.

A visceral reaction usually refers to the first impression for which you’ll explore everything else in the product. Imagine unboxing a computer for the first time. You’ll notice the packaging, the little details in the design and any extras in the box. A positive visceral reaction can set a positive context. This helps users forgive any faults further down the line.

Once we are immersed in the product, our perspectives change. This is as a behavioral reaction. Our interaction with the product helps us develop stronger feelings around it. A positive reaction, for instance, may help users feel empowered and cultivate more trust. Think of a mobile game you want to play all over again. That’s a good example of a behavioral reaction.

What ABout Reflective Design?

Finally, reflective reactions occur after our immersive experience. Did I like the product experience? What was the most important aspect from it? Some reflective reactions may differ from our visceral and behavioral ones. Let’s take a look at the new computer example again. After a few months of use, you may arrive at the conclusion that this might not be the best computer for you.

This is perfectly possible and should be considered within the design experience.
Don Norman says that the intersection between visceral, behavioral and reflective emotional design will always be delight. In other words, what these three reactions have in common is the possibility of falling in love with a specific experience. Being able to love an experience does not come by chance, yet. It is part of a crafted process where designers use a people-first approach to create impressive products.

How Emotions in Fintech Blend

Designers such as Alex Kruger are aware that emotions are not a new concept in design. Yet, within the fintech industry, emotional design has been left at the fringes of important conversations. Much of this has to do with how people feel about finances in general, and how financially literate is a population.

According to Kruger, “Emotional connections have the potential to attract and make fintech customers loyal to their business. To make a difference by connecting with customers on an emotional level, fintechs provide a personalized attitude and delightful experience, demonstrating that they care about their customers.”

Designing relevant experiences also requires an understanding of culture and context. Often, people will interpret a message different based on where they live or where they grew up. Think of how people use the date format in different parts of the world. Therefore, using dots instead of slanted bars can cause a huge confusion in countries such as Norway.

Because of what we’ve mentioned before, attaining trust can be tricky. Product designer Dharmesh BA narrates an example from a city in Tamilnadu, India, where his family still lives. In local communities, financial services are predominantly distributed through interpersonal relationships. That is, a family accountant, a distant relative or a friend that acts as a financial advisor.

So, what happens when this financial guidance is provided by a faceless application? How do you navigate through the anxiety a bank loan produces? Can this platform understand the difference between buying a cup of coffee and paying for an emergency medical examination? Does it even care?

For any financial platform, trust depends on a thorough understanding of how all three emotional reactions work. Understanding emotions is crucial to building long term relationships with financial products.