Behavioral scientist works to help customers solve problems, reach goals

September 14, 2023
People in construction clothing at construction site.
Behavioral scientist Yasmin Ghodse-Elahi works with the bank’s marketing teams to help customers better understand how U.S. Bank products and services can help them achieve their goals.

Yasmin Ghodse-Elahi focuses on ways U.S. Bank can help customers close the gap between intention and action 

Have you ever gone into something with great intentions but not followed through with the necessary actions? Of course you have, if you’re human, and helping people follow through on their intentions is something behavioral scientist Yasmin Ghodse-Elahi focuses on at U.S. Bank.

“There’s always something we intend to do and have great goals for, but there’s a huge abyss between what we want to do and the behaviors it takes to get there,” Ghodse-Elahi said.

That abyss can hinder people’s efforts to do things like lose weight, quit smoking or, more relevant to a financial institution like U.S. Bank, save money and build wealth, she said.

“Finances touch everything we do and it’s hard to be super financially literate and totally aware of how you’re spending every dollar at every moment,” she said. “We want to help our customers take the steps they need to take in order to reach their financial goals.”

Ghodse-Elahi and others in her group study the bank’s products and services, and what it takes to enroll in them, to look for steps that can be barriers for customers and ways to help reduce those barriers.

“I work with teams across the bank who build customer experiences, like the mortgage application process for first-time homeowners. Our team tries to really identify the problem that we’re trying to solve for customers so that we can get at the right solution,” Ghodse-Elahi said.

“It can feel like a long process to apply for a mortgage, and we want to help customers feel confident in each step they’re taking and that each step makes them feel like they’re getting closer to their goal,” she said.

Ghodse-Elahi also works with the bank’s marketing teams to help customers better understand how U.S. Bank products and services, such as credit cards, can help them achieve their goals.

“Choosing a credit card can be a hard decision to make,” she said. “One huge thing I think a lot of banks miss is that credit card use is a social process in a way. A lot of the money we spend is on things that help us signal our social identities, like buying clothes, dining out or traveling. So if travel is an important part of a someone’s social identity, we can use that as a way to make it easier to choose the best card for their lifestyle.”

Helping customers get products that are a good fit for them benefits the customers and makes them more loyal to U.S. Bank, Ghodse-Elahi said.

“People have a lot of choices to consider and a lot of bank products can seem like they’re similar or interchangeable,” she said. “If people get into an account or credit card that isn’t a good fit for them, it’s not going to help them achieve their goals.”

The New York-based Ghodse-Elahi, who graduated with a doctorate degree in social psychology at New York University in 2021, said she didn’t think she would go to work at a bank when she was working on her studies, but is glad she did.

“I wanted to go into industry and use my expertise and skill set to help people do the things they want to do,” she said. “The bank happens to be a great place to work on that problem because almost every goal is affected by how you use your finances and your financial well-being. It’s a great place to study and understand human behavior.”

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