Encouraging emotional decision making in financial services: Lowell

Applying behavioural science to foster a better customer experiences.

Overcoming a legacy of distrust to put emotions at the heart of decision making

It has never been more important to meet customers’ evolving needs and their increasing expectations around digital engagement. Accelerated by the pandemic, consumers are turning to digital channels to access a plethora of services more than ever. For organisations like Lowell, this means designing and continually refining a streamlined, accessible digital customer engagement model that mirrors broader digital behaviours.

Financial services brands, however, have struggled with distrust for years, with the sector being amongst the least trusted according to Edelman’s Trust Barometer. So, how do you design an online service for customers that may not trust you from the outset, and may even seek to avoid you?

Using behavioural science and consumer insight, Lowell overcame a legacy of distrust by better understanding the emotions and deep-set biases associated with debt and money management. This insight has allowed Lowell to optimise its business strategy and improved not just the website, but hundreds of direct mail communications. This led to greater engagement with the brand, demonstrating a deepening trust in Lowell and bucking the trend in their marketplace. Ultimately, behavioural science principles helped to position Lowell’s business and strategy in a way that resonates with its customers on a more emotional and impactful level.


Customer Engagement Rates


Days to Engage Customers


Web Engagement Time Before Enquiry


Accessing the most vulnerable among us

Lowell adopt a different approach to debt management, looking at debt with sensitivity; to support and guide customers in an empathetic way. By applying behavioural science, Lowell are able to better understand the emotions and deep-set biases associated with debt and money management. As humans, we don’t always make rational decisions, and we can’t always explain why we do what we do. Through a behavioural science lens, Lowell can create better designed digital services that help overcome these deep-rooted biases and take customers on a stress-free digital journey.

Applying behavioural science, we looked at both encouraging participation in research and ensuring participants stay engaged throughout the study. This also allowed us to go beyond their rational responses and challenge any ‘over rationalisation’. We identified deep-set biases at play that were limiting the participants’ ability to engage with debt management. By exploring these barriers to engagement, and addressing them, we were able to produce differentiated communication, which we tested and validated with customers – showing an increase in engagement across target audiences.

We provided actionable recommendations grounded in science and consumer insight, which helped guide Lowell’s business strategy moving forward and led to improving hundreds of communications and adapting the Lowell website.

All of this, in turn, contributed to an increase in digital collections and an overall performance currently 29% ahead of the 2019 performance and to sustained growth and improvement in engagement rates – an increase in digital collections of 17% in June compared to March despite Lowell forecasting a reduction for the month, which in turn demonstrates that trust in the brand is higher.

“Walnut’s approach, particularly in applying genuinely usable behavioural science techniques, has unearthed a whole new way to reposition our business to customers. Our customers are engaging much more as a result and our colleagues are even more proud of the brand they work for. A fantastic partner!”

Neil Costello | UK Marketing Director