Research & Analysis

Field Guide to Obtaining Customers' Views on Empowerment

This document provides guidance for discussion with customers of Financial Service Providers (FSPs) about their understanding of “customer empowerment. The term “empowerment” is multidimensional, and context- and culture-specific. It is therefore not recommended to talk to customers directly about “empowerment.” Rather, this Guide presents a framework that breaks empowerment down into a number of dimensions that can be explored in order to build a picture of the experience of specific groups of customers. The guide was developed and refined through field testing in India.

Empowerment is not a “state of being”; that is, it is not something that is either present or not. Rather, it is about structures that block or enable. It is the result of internal and external factors, and must therefore be understood in relation to the service provider as well as the specific context of the customers. While “empowerment” as a concept may be difficult to explain and communicate, people will easily relate to the lived experience of “disempowerment.”

The underlying hypothesis for this work is that a more dynamic customer-provider relationship that is based on trust and that builds customer confidence will help reduce the problem of inactivity and will result in a win-win for both sides. To advance financial inclusion, there needs to be more uptake and usage of financial services by poor customers. FSPs need to adapt their design and delivery of products and channel options to targeted segments and improve their interaction with the customer to empower them to choose and use financial services. To achieve full financial inclusion, we need to move to a more interactive and dynamic relationship between providers and customers and an environment in which FSPs facilitate customer empowerment.

The focus of this field research is to understand customer views of “customer empowerment.” This will contribute to building the definition of customer empowerment and strengthen the framing of the concept for CGAP’s work on customer-centricity. While looking at financial services in general, there is a specific focus on digital financial services.