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It’s not all about functionality: the importance of UX in B2B finance applications

In 2001, Silicon Valley superinvestor Marc Andreessen declared that software was eating the world. Recent years have borne this out, with digital B2C tools now shaping the ways we travel, eat, and even find love. Key to the appeal of these apps is ease of use, taking an existing experience and making it mobile, up to date and personalised.

This stands in contrast to traditional B2B software where functionality has been more important than usability. But the rise of B2C software has raised the bar, encouraging more developers to prioritise easy, even pleasurable experiences.

At a recent developer meetup, I met Katrin Herrling, CEO and Co-Founder at Funding Xchange, whose business aims to make the SME funding process as easy, flexible and personalised as choosing your next binge watch. My conversation with her, and others, convinced me that there is a usability problem for B2B software. With this in mind, here’s why your next app needs to be comparing its UX to the best of B2C.

The B2B buying experience

At first glance, it’s not so strange that an app built for work would feel like work to use. For early business software, the goal was functionality and features; by offering more tools you could command a higher price.

The end result was over-specced software that was tricky to use, often leading to failed implementations. A classic case is Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software – Gartner research indicates that 55%-75% of ERP projects fail.

Some businesses have built their whole proposition on solving this problem. Once upon a time, teams had no choice but to use legacy tools such as Oracle’s Expense Reporting solution or Concur, until Expensify burst onto the scene with the mission to create “Expense reports that don’t suck”. It’s not a new solution businesses are crying out for, it’s a new experience.

What does good look like?

App building has become faster, cheaper and more scalable, meaning that more businesses than ever before are using software for everything from accounting to wellness. According to Katrin, 98% of SMEs are owner operated, meaning the buyer is usually the user.

“The typical business owner knows how to get a mortgage, a credit card and not much else,” Herrling explained. Her goal was to make a platform that made looking for business funding quick and easy.

Her model was based on the ease of B2C finance – more specifically Money Supermarket, which revolutionised the way consumers accessed finance in the 1990s. By taking a difficult service and simplifying it, she made the easy UX into a product in itself.

User-friendly APIs

Traditionally, B2B financial services require large amounts of data to personalise, which is why banks usually create lending options at a portfolio level rather than tailoring them to each customer.

APIs speed up the insight gathering process, so you can take a small amount of customer data, combine it with 3rd-party sources and build a complete picture of their needs to provide a personalised experience

Funding Xchange uses APIs to provide the same B2C service of Money Supermarket as a B2B service. By aggregating the huge number of lenders (both alternative and traditional) via API they offer clients a customised selection of funding options.

They also use APIs to check additional sources of customer data to more accurately determine risk profiles, so every product offered is tailored to the customer’s needs. While this is the norm in the B2C world, this powerful, customer-focused UX gives their software a field advantage in the world of B2B finance applications.

Are you experienced?

An easy-to-use, customised user experience can now be a product in its own right. Easy access APIs give developers more data sources than ever before to combine into time-saving products for B2B and B2C customers alike.

The challenge for developers is to find the right configuration of data, customer and pain points to create a unique experience that takes a familiar problem and makes it as easy as picking your favourite show.



Comments: (1)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 25 May, 2020, 08:02Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I'm reminded of these two tweets I read yesterday:

Two sides to this. Typical enterprise tools on sign up today all look the same. Key workflows, dashboards etc. - You can't tell one tool from the other these days. Enterprise UX has gotten very boring. This is both good and bad. UX / CX norms are set, paradigms are common.

People have said for over a decade that “consumerization of the enterprise is happening.” We’ve barely scratched the surface.

I thought SAAS will put an end to bloatware since, if a customer is unhappy with bad UX, they can cancel the subscription at the end of the month. But, no, that has not happened. The average customer of a Bloomberg terminal uses only 29 out of its 15000 features. Still, I don't know of a single product that has succeeded in displacing Bloomberg terminal by offering an alternative with 20% of features of a Bloomberg terminal at whatever price.

Somehow, in B2B software, customers still want more features and are willing to pay more money for a product with more features even though they eventually won't use most of those features. Aspirational selling still works. Very few companies bother about UX even today compared to functionality.

Ryan Clifford

Ryan Clifford

Design Technologist


Member since

25 Jun 2019



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