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Project: the simplest and most usable onboarding for the new Cumulus Credit Card

The new Cumulus credit card got off to a flying start in its first few weeks. Unique in Switzerland, if not in all of Europe: the Cumulus credit card is digitally ready for use within minutes in the one App. Ergonomen was tasked with ensuring the user perspective along the entire user journey and ensuring an easy-to-understand and user-friendly application process from start to finish.

27. July 2022
Dr. Christopher H. Müller, Owner, Expert Consultant

Owner, Expert Consultant

Sandro Zuppiger, MSc, Consultant


The new Cumulus credit card has been launched and got off to a flying start in the first few weeks. Unique in Switzerland, if not in all of Europe: the Cumulus credit card is digitally ready for use within minutes, i.e. directly after successful onboarding in the one app or in the mobile browser. The instant issuing of the free credit card is one of many advantages. Another is the speedy onboarding - fully digital. Ergonomen was tasked with ensuring user visibility along the entire user journey and providing an easy-to-understand and user-friendly application process from start to finish.

Develop a fast track
Increasingly critical in today's world is the speed at which an onboarding process is completed. Accordingly, the focus of the first project stage was on developing a veritable fast track for applying for the new Cumulus credit card. With Viseca's oneApp, the Cumulus credit card can be applied for within minutes, directly deposited digitally and thus used immediately after completion of the application process - without any paper at all! 

Our mission and goal was to minimize the functional and cognitive effort required by the customer to apply for the Cumulus credit card. To do this, we tested the individual onboarding steps with users in the usability lab, increased the efficiency and comprehensibility of the entire process, and ensured that users reached their goal easily and with a good feeling.

The result was exactly in line with the objectives: A simple, clear, and understandable onboarding process that is completely paperless and, what's more: very well received by users! But how do you explain to users why they should choose the application process via oneApp in the first place? 

Guide users along the right path
On every journey, there are forks in the road, crossroads or route options that require the user to make a decision. In the application process for the new Cumulus credit card, too, applicants are faced with the decision of applying for the credit card on a PC, by hand via a paper form, in the smartphone browser, or even in Viseca's oneApp.

Now, the fact is that for efficient use of the credit card, for example for two-factor authentication for online purchases, the customer needs the oneApp anyway. So the easiest thing for Cumulus credit card users to do is apply for the card directly in the oneApp and link the card to the payment service of their choice - Apple Pay, Google Pay, whatever....

A switching point needs to be created
When applicants enter the application process using their smartphone or PC, most don't know the quickest and most convenient way to benefit from Cumulus' new credit card offering. The first step is therefore to provide information and clarification: on the initial onboarding page, the available options are presented and their benefits are also clearly communicated. For cell phone users, there are the options oneApp or browser of the smartphone, when applying on the PC, or laptop, you can continue there or switch to the smartphone - simply via QR code. 

Sounds easy, but it's not. In a creative concept sprint, the Ergonomen developed various versions of this switching point. Ultimately, we selected a handful of favorites that would contribute most effectively to the goal of having applications submitted through the oneApp.

To clarify, which variant and which behavioral economics insights proof to be most effective, we conducted a large-scale experiment.

Test effectiveness
To find out which prototype of the switching point was most effective in nudging users toward the app download, we set up a quantitative behavioral economics experiment with nearly 400 potential credit card customers. The purpose of the quantitative experiment was to statistically validate which of the variants most strongly promotes the target behavior - applying for a credit card via the app. Part of the recipe for success is to nudge users toward the app as gently as possible but as firmly as necessary for their benefit - that's the challenge of nudging.

So which behavioral economics principles did our behavioral economists find most promising? "It's known from behavioral economics that people generally tend to choose default options, because doing so doesn't require a lot of thought or additional action. Moreover, as users, we assume that the default option is chosen for a reason. In a digital user interface, standards can be implemented using "radio buttons". On a screen with a radio button selection, users must first make a choice between different options before they can continue in the process. Now, if an option is preselected by default and users leave the selection at that option, one click is eliminated and they only need to click "continue," which significantly reduces the effort for users."

In the specific case of the switching point, we prioritized the following measures: In addition to the default value on the target behavior, we also prominently listed the advantages of the app over the alternative process in the browser. For example, users saw at a glance that downloading the app would speed up the registration process and, ultimately, that the credit card could be used immediately. Applicants are thus nudged toward the app: they have a choice between two options, albeit not quite equal.

This approach paid off: Compared to the other variants that nudged users more, the one identified as most effective led to the highest number of app registrations.

Offer alternatives
Behavioral economics may support decisions, but never eliminates choices. This makes it all the more important that, despite nudging, the entire range of customer expectations is always taken into account.

Digital affinity, confidence, habitualization, and controllability are some of the factors that influence which channel applicants choose to apply for. As on a hiking trip, there are the climbers that go fast. They climb up the mountain the most direct way, so to speak, and apply for the Cumulus credit card directly in the oneApp. Others follow the markings of the hiking trail and - by analogy - fill out the application electronically on their PC. And just as there are hikers who prefer to take a roundabout route to the summit, there are those customers who only want to apply for the Cumulus credit card using the double-sided paper form and who put up with the back and forth of paper applications, contracts, documents, and so on.

For the more digitally affine applicants, the Ergonomen tested parts of the application process, such as uploading their own photo as a credit card subject or the entire process from start to confirmation page. Also, the texts along the digital process were continuously improved for consistency and comprehensibility.

Paper accepts everything - if it is clear what is to be filled in and how
The paper application entailing a full double-page form with numerous questions and many explanations in small-print footnotes was also closely examined by the Ergonomen as well as test persons. Before the first test run and after each subsequent one, we adapted the form from the user's point of view without changing the legally relevant texts and entries. With clear grouping of related questions (lines and proximity), more conspicuous references to mandatory entries (nice phrases with "please"), stringent attention guidance (relevant passages highlighted in bold, mandatory entries marked with arrows) and - despite space constraints - more white space, we have achieved that far fewer letters have to be sent to collect missing information. (Probably because the statistics are not yet available.... But we are firmly convinced based on the feedback and observations from the usability test!)

Looking at the big picture
The paper application, the oneApp, or the switching point are just "small" touchpoints when you consider the entire application process for the new Cumulus credit card. If you take a step back, you'll see that the customer journey for the Cumulus credit card is like a complex labyrinth, with many entry points and many individual steps that ultimately culminate in the receipt of the physical credit card. Depending on the path users take, they encounter challenges such as switching from paper brochures to cell phones, transitioning from landing pages to the onboarding process in the oneApp including switching devices, or submitting documents by mail including re-submitting forgotten documents ...

Your typical customer journey runs through several touchpoints, each of which is a small project in its own, and could look like this: While shopping at Migros, you discover the nicely designed advertising brochure for the new Cumulus credit card. While still on the tram, you call up the Cumulus website using the QR code shown in the brochure, skim over the benefits of the new Cumulus credit card, and decide to apply for it right away. By clicking on the "Apply Now" button, you jump straight into the application process, decide at the switch point to apply directly in the oneApp, and before you even get to your stop, you're in possession of a fully functional, digitally issued credit card that lets you collect Cumulus points wherever you go. 

In such complex customer journeys, there is a risk that the traveler may not understand something the way the creators of the application process meant it. To keep the customer journey simple, clear, and understandable to the applicant, the Ergonomen were responsible for making sure the communication was consistent and understandable, from A-Z, along all the touchpoints from the brochure to the welcome letter. Using various of our UX methods such as UX writing, expert reviews, and usability testing with user representatives in the usability lab, we ensured that the smooth communication along the customer journey reducing the hickups in the customer experience. 

The application process for the new Cumulus credit card was tested and optimized from the user's point of view, from advertising poster to welcome brochure, from paper form to oneApp. We're proud to have played the role of "user advocates" and "developer/agency agents" and to have been able to actively contribute the user perspective to this mega-project.   

Dr. Christopher H. Müller, Owner, Expert Consultant

Owner, Expert Consultant

Dr. Christopher H. Müller, founder and owner of Ergonomen Usability AG, earned his PhD from the Institute for Hygiene and Applied Physiology at ETH Zurich. With over 22 years of experience, he is an expert in usability and user experience. His strong sense of empathy allows him to quickly understand the needs and perspectives of his clients. With creativity and courage, he supports his clients in their digitalization projects and the optimization of products, services, and processes. He takes a practical approach, developing tailored solutions that can be effectively implemented. Dr. Christopher H. Müller is a columnist for Netzwoche. He also serves as a board member for the Zugang für alle Foundation, and is a member of two Swico advisory boards and co-president of the Regional Conference Nördlich Lägern.

Sandro Zuppiger, MSc, Consultant


Holding a master’s degree in Behavioral Economics from the Erasmus School of Economics in Rotterdam, Sandro Zuppiger complements The Ergonomen with his interest in human behavior and behavior change. With his background in marketing, strategy and communication, Sandro Zuppiger concentrates on the area of behavioral economics, business development, and marketing. He likes to spend his free time in nature and enjoys playing music.