When it was announced that Ovuline’s Gina Nebesar would be speaking about user-centric design at the recent Women’s Network Breakfast hosted by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, most of us from Boston Financial who were attending the event thought:
“Tech jargon about web and app development? In the field of fertility and pregnancy management? Is this going to be a waste of our time?”
As Nebesar launched into her brief remarks about lessons she’s learned from her work with Ovuline and Automatic Apparel, it became clear that this event was not a waste of our time. At the end of the 60-minute event, the team from Boston Financial realized we had each come to the same conclusion: the principles of user-centric design as described by Nebesar are the same as the principles of client-centered transaction processing, merely hiding behind industry jargon.
Principle 1: Put Your Own Preferences Aside and Listen
As Ovuline set out to create Ovia Fertility, they started by listening to potential customers. They learned that their potential users were not all alike. For example, the needs of a 26-year old vegetarian newlywed are different than those of a 43-year old person with Type 1 diabetes making one last effort to get pregnant. The best products and services, regardless of industry, Nebesar said, are those that are customized to the user and the evolution of their journey with your product or service.
“Not so technical after all,” we thought. “Our business model is built around listening to our clients, and then blending standardized functions with custom features to meet their needs.”
Principle 2: Create a Culture Around User Feedback
Driven by the desire to continue to meet the needs of their customers, Ovuline embedded feedback loops into their apps. This includes smart coding that help the apps adapt to the use patterns of their consumers, easy-to-find “contact us” buttons, and regularly inviting users to come to the office to give feedback IRL (in real life). More importantly, said Nebesar, they listened to the feedback and then used it to make the apps better.
For example, Ovia Pregnancy users who experienced a miscarriage reported that the app’s push notifications were difficult to receive after their traumatic event. As a result, a feature was introduced that let users notify the app when they have a miscarriage. This triggers a message of condolence and a suspension of service until users indicate they’re ready.
Around the table, the Boston Financial team nodded, thinking of our regular client satisfaction surveys, and the hundreds of client meetings, conferences, and advisory groups we host – all designed to help us continue to make Boston Financial’s services better.
Principle 3: Leverage Appropriate Opportunities to Listen Covertly
Principle 3 underscores the importance of listening outside of the traditional channels. In the age of social media, it’s easy to listen covertly without resorting to stalker or spy tactics. Monitoring trending topics on social media sites, subscribing to industry news aggregators, and watching hashtags are within the reach of anyone with a mobile device.
“We got this,” we thought, because Boston Financial’s culture values reading industry news to stay abreast of factors affecting our clients. This content may be pushed out through email, conferences, or social media sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Principle 4: Share Your Own Stories
Sharing authentic stories relevant to the service you provide, using channels directly linked to your product and user community, will help your clients realize that you understand their experiences. This has the potential to increase user’s affiliation with you and your brand, which increases their use of the product and improves relationship longevity.
Nebesar credits adherence to these four principles of “user-centric design” for helping to put the Ovuline products at the top of the women’s health app list in both the iTunes store and on Google Play. And the team at Boston Financial who had the privilege of hearing her speak? We see it as fancy talk for simply listening to your customers, and adapting your solutions to meet their needs. Or, in other words, “good business.”
A team of four collaborated on this post. My fellow contributors included:
- Marion Herlihy is a member of the NSCC Services team and came to Boston Financial in 2004 as part of a client conversion. She provides data analysis for trending reporting for management and clients.
- Karen Mosman, a Control Service Officer in the Financial Control unit, has worked at Boston Financial since 1993. She oversees the development and continuous improvement of our Control Work Station tool.
- Kathy Shea, a member of the Human Resources/ Talent Development team, has also been with Boston Financial since 2004, focusing on leadership and professional development.