"Good design is good business"

Julia Moisand, Nordea's Head of Design
Julia Moisand Egea, Nordea's new Head of Design.
19-10-01 14:24 | Digital banking | The Digital Hub

Offering the customer outstanding experiences through high-quality design is good business, says Nordea’s new Head of Design, Julia Moisand Egea. Based in Copenhagen, she will tackle the challenges and seize the opportunities related to creating high-quality experiences for Nordea's customers. We had the opportunity to sit down with Julia to learn more about her views on design.

In a recent news article, the Head of Product of Klarna said that competition among banks will hinge on who delivers the best customer experience. Do you agree?

Good design is good business. Too often, though, design is misunderstood as just visual styling or the final “user-friendly” polish on an otherwise bland product. But there’s growing awareness and evidence of the true business value and ROI of designing outstanding customer experiences.

How would you describe the concept of design in just a few words?

Fundamentally, design is about fulfilling the needs and desires of people. In a business context, it means centering on customers to ensure cohesive experiences that differentiate Nordea because they’re distinctly meaningful, valuable, and delightful.

Have you already identified some of Nordea’s challenges?

During the years I worked in the US, I saw more and more companies acknowledge design and UX (user experience) as essential to their business success. However, acknowledging the value of design is not enough. The real work is to actually implement and sustain a thriving design practice and customer-centered culture throughout an organization. And, as I learned with Capital One, banking is faced with a special challenge because the customer is everyone, so it risks being no one.

To address that problem, I don’t believe in relying too much on personas or demographics. Instead, I prefer to consider a customer’s mindset and stage-of-life. It’s better than grouping people demographically. What really matters are people’s current life circumstances, motivations, and resources. Those are much better indicators to create the solution that’s best for them.

You’ve said that one of the biggest challenges with design is cultural differences. Can you also see that being an issue at Nordea?

I’m originally from France, but I’ve been living abroad since 2010. I first moved from Paris to Austin, Texas. Then I lived in San Francisco. And now I’ve been in Copenhagen since 2016. So, I’ve experienced a range of places and cultures that are characterized by remarkably different values. For instance, if people prefer to get around by car or bike, eat small or large portions, or tend to be self-centered or community-centered. Such cultural variations are just human nature. 

While they do pose a significant challenge for any international business, the question is how we address that reality in creative ways that respect and celebrate diversity. Because it centers on people and human values, design can help a business successfully navigate cultural differences.

Today it’s critical for customers to know how sustainable a company is. Before they start interacting with a business, customers want to understand its background and see proof of sustainability. How can you solve that with customer experience design, besides just referring people to read more on the corporate website?

Yes, customers are absolutely evaluating the sustainability of the businesses they interact with. For instance, it is fascinating to see the “flygskam” movement in Sweden. I’m impressed with the relationship Nordic people have with the planet. It strikes me as a very healthy way of life. So, design can offer many ways to speak to those values. 

For example, could we use transaction data to help customers be more aware of their carbon footprint? Design is also key to telling the story of a brand, being bold about taking a clear stand on important issues. Then customers have the opportunity to make informed decisions.

Last but not least, what made you chose to join Nordea?

I joined Nordea because I wanted to stick to one problem and one industry and follow the entire customer journey. I think banking is especially interesting as it is a dry and wicked topic while being also very emotional. All of us have a relationship with money which varies depending on life stages and it is exciting to see how we have an impact on people’s lives as a bank. With Nordea's talented team, I am really looking forward to starting and creating outstanding experiences for all customers.

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