Putting humans at the centre of CX


Designers have biases. There is no denying it. They run deep and have the potential to sabotage the design process, as we unknowingly build for ourselves rather than users.

In our practice here at ATB, we have built systems to safeguard the design process from the trap of our own bias. It starts with how we talk about our users. User is cold. Human is real. User is detached. Human is personal. So how do we build for humans, not users?

To get to the heart of the human, we’ve built in tests at each stage of our human centred design process to help us overcome our biases and put our ‘human’ first.

Test #1 - Have we talked with our ‘humans’ lately?

In phase one of the design process, we engage and discover. As designers, we need to empathize with our ‘humans’ and immerse ourselves in their experiences. At ATB, this means sitting in on the call-center, working for a day in a branch, and interacting directly with ATB customers.

Personas are a tool to make the customer more ‘real’ - but what’s even better is a real customer.

In a busy work schedule full of meetings and deadlines, it can be hard to dedicate time to engage and immerse ourselves. It’s amazing how often we don’t just get out of chairs and engage with humans.

So, we’ve built it into our schedules. Instead of standing meetings for persona building in isolated meeting rooms, our CX team has scheduled out-of-office days to talk to the humans we’re building for, and then we share learnings back with the team.

Test #2 - Did we ask the right questions?

So now you’re actually engaging with customers and asking questions, but getting to the heart of their needs also means asking the right questions. We’re always trying to perfect the art of asking the right question.

If I asked you to draw a sunset right now, what would you draw?

And if I asked you to draw for me the most memorable sunset you’ve experienced, now what would you draw?

Questions are also a really great way to uncover biases. Listen to ATB Managing Director of CX talk about the magic of questions.

Test #3 - Did we validate…with humans?

Okay, so we’ve gone through the discovery phase and the prototyping phase, and now we are implementing a real product. We can’t simply deliver the product and then pat ourselves on the back and move on to the next task. There is still work to be done validating that we’ve really solved the problem.

What is crucial is bringing in the learnings from the discovery phase into the next phases of the design process.

For example, when redesigning the appointment booking process for ATB.com, one of our important observations in the discovery phase was that customers wanted more assurance that they are on the right track. They want to know if they are asking for the banking products, and that they can trust the person giving them advice.

Once we’ve moved from discovery to the UX design, it can be easy to get lost in the usability and esthetic of the booking process. So we have to continually go back to the human we are designing for to make sure we are satisfying their core needs.

For the UX experience of booking an appointment online, this meant bringing forward this core theme of validation and assurance.

Say an ATB customer, Allison wants to open an RESP, so she is booking an appointment online at ATB.com. Treating her like a human means that we should do more than let her pick a location and time, we should ask about her life. She is a new mom and is interested in saving for her kid’s education. So, when her appointment is booked, we can tell her she’ll be meeting with Angela, an ATB advisor with three kids of her own who has been in Alison’s shoes. We can also be ready with other information about banking products and saving plans that fit her needs.

By building in validation through every step of the design process, we’ve taken something that was quite transactional, scheduling a meeting online, and we’ve made it much more personal. That is, human.  


Stay tuned to alphaBeta.com for more insights into our CX practice here at ATB and how we overcome our biases to focus on human centred design.

Progress, TechnologySarah Matysio