Customer Experience

Wells Fargo VP Discusses the Use of Design Thinking to Build Customer Trust

Shelby Morita-Fowler, Vice President and Research Manager at Wells Fargo, discussed the customer experience and how it can help an organization become more human than ever before during her keynote presentation to Argyle’s CX membership at the 2017 Customer Experience Leadership Forum in San Francisco on December 14. In her presentation, Morita-Fowler discussed design thinking, how it works and its impact on today’s CX professionals.

According to Morita-Fowler, design thinking can have far-flung effects on CX professionals. Design thinking requires CX professionals to consider an organization’s mission and apply day-to-day technologies to drive innovation. As such, with a design thinking approach, CX professionals can discover unique ways to foster long-lasting customer partnerships.

“Design thinking involves applying the principles of design to the ways that we work,” Morita-Fowler pointed out. “It’s about applying techniques … and it’s about contributing your expertise [to innovate].”

At Wells Fargo, the organization has used design thinking to revamp its CX approach. In fact, design thinking enabled Wells Fargo to “humanize” customer engagement.

“Recently, we’ve really embraced a design thinking model and culture,” Morita-Fowler said. “More and more, we’re doing workshops and classes … to help make our business more human.”

How an organization deploys design thinking may have long-lasting ramifications on the organization itself and its clientele.

“We are all dealing with complexity, regardless of company or job. The way we’re going to differentiate ourselves is to be able to cut through the complexity better than our competitors.”

If an organization uses design thinking principles to humanize CX, it may be able to develop meaningful partnerships with customers. Then, this organization can stand out to customers in a highly competitive global marketplace.

“In today’s world, the way that you’re really able to differentiate yourself from your competitors is through the customer experience,” Morita-Fowler stated.

Furthermore, a human-centric approach to CX empowers customers like never before.

An organization that understands its clientele can provide them with the products, services and support they deserve. This organization also can give its customers the ability to make informed decisions based on all of the information at their disposal.

Perhaps most important, design thinking enables organizations to move away from a data-centric approach to CX that sometimes may prove to be problematic.

Massive amounts of customer data are available to organizations, and many organizations prioritize data collection and analysis. Yet customer data alone fails to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Instead, organizations must understand why customers choose to connect with a brand to drive successful customer partnerships.

“We still have a machine-like way of thinking, but that takes out the human element,” Morita-Fowler indicated. “We’re trying to shift from this … and trying to get out of our silos and work across different lines of businesses.”

Design thinking helps organizations understand the human side of customer interactions and use these interactions to build trust with customers. The approach requires organizations to consider customer expectations and construct experiences accordingly. That way, organizations can learn about customers’ needs and ensure these needs are met at all times.

“We need to start first with the human needs of [the customer experience],” Morita-Fowler said. “We also need to get out of this mindsets that our organizations are institutions … and need to hone in on what the customers’ needs are.”

Today’s organizations need to think outside the box to stand out from the competition, and design thinking helps these many organizations do just that. Design thinking often enables organizations to take a close look at a variety of CX issues and find the best ways to resolve such problems.

“In today’s world, the way that you’re really able to differentiate yourself from your competitors is through the customer experience.”

CX problems usually are complex and can create headaches for an organization and its customers. Fortunately, design thinking now helps organizations look at CX problems from multiple perspectives. Design thinking therefore gives organizations an opportunity to reduce complexity, leading to improved customer experiences.

“We are all dealing with complexity, regardless of company or job,” Morita-Fowler noted. “The way we’re going to differentiate ourselves is to be able to cut through the complexity better than our competitors.”

When it comes to CX, organizations must constantly explore ways to keep pace with rapidly evolving customer expectations. Design thinking ensures organizations can learn about CX problems from the customer’s perspective, and by doing so, ensure CX problems are addressed before they escalate.

Design thinking is a novel CX approach and could transform the way that organizations’ address CX. If organizations implement design thinking today, they may be able to find innovative ways to satisfy customer expectations both now and in the future.

“If you’re not solving the right problem or addressing the right need, then it doesn’t matter if that experience you created or solution you created is great because it’s not meeting the needs of your customers,” Morita-Fowler said.


Shelby Morita-Fowler is the User Research Manager with the Digital Solutions for Business team at Wells Fargo. She has 17 years of research experience, 16 of them in financial services at Wells Fargo. Shelby manages a team Senior User Researchers responsible for ensuring that the digital solutions meet the needs of our Wholesale and Treasury Management customers.  Her team works closely with stakeholders to determine the best research strategy and approach to execute their research needs that result in insightful and actionable findings.

Shelby is also actively involved with educating partners on the importance of user or human centered design and using different facilitation and design-thinking techniques to help partners across the organization address a wide range of business needs. She frequently designs and facilitates experience strategy workshops that provide stakeholders with a structured way to determine prioritization, foster alignment and/or creation of early conceptual prototypes as a multi-functional team.

Additionally, Shelby has her M.A. in Experimental Psychology with a focus on Cognitive Psychology. She is originally from Kauai, Hawaii, but has called the San Francisco Bay Area home for the past 17 years.

Visit Argyle Executive Forum's 2019 Customer Experience Leadership Deep Dive: Artificial intelligence and the new CX in New York, NY on Sep 01, 2019

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