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The Financial Brand: Should Banks Acquire Design Firms?

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Underscoring the importance of a great customer experience, Capital One has acquired the San Francisco-based design and user experience firm, Adaptive Path. Is this a testing of the waters by a historically innovative financial institution … or the beginning of an industry trend?

Decidedly bold and thoroughly unexpected, the acquisition of the visionary user experience design firm Adaptive Path by Capital One could signal an acknowledgement by a leader in financial services industry of the difficulty of differentiating a bank in a crowded field of competitors and the need for an improved customer experience. This is probably long overdue in the eyes of consumers and customer experience professionals alike.

It's no surprise that in the age of the consumer, with services like Uber, Siri, and LendingClub, users are by and large being failed by the nation's largest (and most profitable) financial institutions when it comes to digital experiences. We live in an era where simplicity and convenience have mass appeal and the successful, disruptive brands are embracing this wholeheartedly.

Industry leaders will need to muster both the intellect and bravado necessary to not only respond to emerging challenges, but to inspire broader change. Taking a step back to evaluate the banking experience across both physical and digital incarnations, it becomes abundantly clear that there's a significant divide between the service experiences offered.

On the one hand, conducting banking business in-branch comes with certain inconveniences such as having to wait in line or only having access during 'regular banking hours.' However, it's reasonable to assume that almost any financial matter can be resolved through direct interaction with a bank representative. The metaphorical "human touch" manifests as active listening, responsiveness, and clear communication - all critical to the successful completion of one's banking business and consistent with the user-centric principles championed by Adaptive Path.

The digital landscape can be a completely different story, with the user experience frequently taking a backseat to aged designs and ineffective content. A critical breakdown occurs when there's a decision, conscious or otherwise, to prioritize internal processes ahead of simplicity, engagement and contextuality.

This usually takes the form of counter-intuitive information architecture, functional limitations across the user interface, disjointedness between access platforms, and stale or irrelevant content that does little to inform consumers or advance marketing purposes, leaving customers unsatisfied and disenchanted.

Read the full article on The Financial Brand