This project by US based company Capital One is a finalist for the Service Design Award 2017 in the category of Professional, Commercial.

Financial services are undeniably being disrupted by technology. But what other value should banks provide to their customers beyond technological efficiencies? For people who are making a big life change, feeling overwhelmed with their current financial situation, or just a little stressed about money, Capital One Money Coaching can help.

This case study is part of The Service Design Award Annual 2017. The Award Annual book is available to purchase in print format. Not a member yet? SDN members enjoy a special 10% discount. Become a SDN member, or upgrade your community membership to have access to all exclusive benefits!



The Financial Services Context

Financial services are undeniably being disrupted by technology. The Internet and constant connectivity are enabling faster, more efficient, and more seamless transactional services. This progress is of course beneficial to consumers, which is why technology drives much of what we do at Capital One—whether that’s through mobile, online, at the ATM or in one of our Capital One Cafés.

But what other value should banks provide to their customers beyond technological efficiencies? Historically, banks were viewed as trusted partners in safeguarding their customers’ finances, but we’ve seen people’s trust in financial institutions erode over time. Now, people often view their banks as simple utilities, rather than trusted partners. We know that digitally revolutionizing banking services is a baseline expectation to stay competitive in the market, but we acknowledge that doing that alone will not lead to long-term value for the customer or the business.

That’s why we’re redesigning the banking experience—making things simple, straightforward, and an experience that fits more naturally into people’s lives—through both innovative products and digital tools, as well as the human connection we know they still crave.

Our Money Coaching Mission

To truly differentiate from competitors, companies need to deliver new value that other players in the market are not offering. In our research, we learned that money is not just about the dollars and cents; it’s central to all the biggest decisions and moments of our lives—from marriage, to career, to children, divorce, or death. We asked ourselves, how might we better help people navigate the emotional side of money?

As a company, we are charged with doing the right thing for people. When we heard that “65% of Americans are losing sleep over their finances” (, and “nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency” (The Atlantic) we knew we needed to take action. Capital One responded by creating Money Coaching to help people feel more confident in their relationship to money and how they talk about it. The service takes place in Capital One’s cafes, which aim to create a comfortable, stress-free environment to get help with your money.

What is Money Coaching?

Money Coaching is a one-on-one, judgment-free guided program. It’s designed to help people build a firm financial foundation by aligning their values, beliefs, goals, and spending to move toward what they want in life.

Sessions are activity-based, designed to help discover fresh perspectives on money and develop new strategies, no matter where a person is on their personal financial journey.

Coaches are not financial advisors, accountants, or tax specialists. They help others dig deep to understand motivations and how emotions affect decision making around money.

The Money Coaching Service

Everyone has a relationship with their money— and, let’s be honest, relationships take work. Money Coaching helps people take control of that relationship by zeroing in on what’s really important, and helping people find new perspective and confidence.

Money Coaches guide people through several activities during three complimentary one-on-one sessions. Each session lasts 60 minutes and is designed to help people get clear on what’s important, remove roadblocks, and make plans for their future. Everyone is welcome—the service is available to customers and non-customers alike.

The service is changing the conversation that Capital One is having with people, delivering on our company mission, and reinvigorating associates with a holistic, human-centered approach. Let us tell you the story of how this service came to be and how it’s growing and evolving…

The Journey (Process)

Money Coaching began as an inkling of an idea and has evolved to become a real service delivered in six different U.S. markets and growing!


White space research on how we might deliver more value to our customers based on their money behaviors, patterns, and preferences.

  • Understood the space through several exploratory research activities, including one-on-one in-depth interviews, secondary research, surveys, co-design sessions, expert interviews, and intercept interviews
  • Employed a range of synthesis techniques, including a value proposition workshop, the 5E’s of experience framework, storyboarding, concept sketching, service blueprinting, and service origami
  • Uncovered key opportunity spaces to share with potential partners within Capital One Opportunity: People are looking for guidance but don’t know where to turn
  • Aligned on the money coaching opportunity area, with the prompt: How might we relieve some of the cognitive load associated with personal finance?


Exploring the concept of “design as service,” we applied the tools and methods of design and life coaching to create a novel, co-creative service experience.

  • Further defined the opportunity: in-person coaching for you and your money
  • Aligned intent to potential business value: a destination where we could prototype personalized, high-touch experiences to inform the design of cafés, call centers, digital platforms, and other lines of business
  • Gained depth of knowledge through research of analogous services and interaction models, focusing on life coaching
  • Designed an array of paper tools based on design and coaching methods that help make money more visible and understandable
  • Worked with internal risk and compliance groups to receive approval for service pilot to be offered in the Union Square Capital One Café in San Francisco, CA
  • Employed third party services to prototype scheduling and surveying, emulating a realistic service experience
  • Validated the service concept with two coaches and four coaching tools to 100 people in a three-week pilot at the Union Square Capital One Café “I am writing regarding the amazing new service offered at the Café. It has greatly improved my quality of life and has made me look forward to coming here. In fact, I have begun only coming to this coffee shop, because of the personal coaching offered here. I have even told many of my friends. Please make this service a permanent one!” —Participant from The Get Set pilot
  • Discovered that the service was relevant to people of a wide range of ages, life stages, and financial situations based on attendance and feedback from The Get Set pilot
  • Pitched the concept to senior leaders and executives within the Capital One Café team by inviting them to experience the service, walking them through a vision video, sharing positive customer sentiment, and getting them to wear temporary tattoos for The Get Set pilot
  • Business partners loved the service, decided to invest in making it real, and set sights on launching and scaling


Iterating on the service model within business constraints.

  • Refined to accommodate a wider range of use cases, situations, and challenges, expanding the coaching tools to a set of ten
  • Structured the service prototype as a series of three one-on-one coaching sessions with the option to participate in a group coaching workshop
  • Worked with internal risk and compliance groups to receive approvals for updates and changes to the service prototype to be offered in the Back Bay Capital One Café in Boston, MA
  • Conducted Brand & Business Model workshops with partners to integrate into the business and lay the groundwork for launching the service
  • Onboarded Capital One Café Ambassadors to integrate the service prototype into their day-to-day responsibilities
  • Delivered a full-scale money coaching service prototype to 25 people over three weeks with three coaching sessions each; experimented with group workshops
  • Manually simulated a high-fidelity backstage support system using third party tools and human-powered communications
  • Validated the service across stakeholder groups: customers, associates, and business partners
  • Embedded the first Service Designer in the Capital One Café business team as the intent owner, to implement and launch the service


Holistically integrating the service into the Capital One Café culture, operations, and brand.

  • Refined frontstage and backstage service touchpoints, including: website, welcome to coaching worksheets, action steps worksheets, re-branded tools, customer surveys, training materials, and more
  • Integrated into existing Capital One Café appointment booking system
  • Lobbied for and received approvals for the Money Coach role, and created supporting materials, including: job requisition, coach guidebook, and interview process
  • Hired and trained the first Money Coach
  • Fostered relationships and built executive sponsorship to help champion growth
  • Trained and onboarded Capital One Café staff to integrate the Money Coaching service into their day-to-day responsibilities
  • Received Legal and Compliance approvals to deliver the new service indefinitely
  • Refined branding to match new corporate and Café guidelines
  • Launched Money Coaching with one Money Coach, in June 2016, at the Harvard Square Capital One Café in Boston, MA




Making the service sustainable and business as usual for the bank.

  • Launched the service in November 2016 at the William Cannon branch in Austin, TX
  • Hired additional Money Coaches
  • Tested and refined approach to scaling for new markets
  • Established clearer language for value proposition and service offering
  • Began telling the story with press, including Refinery29, Business Insider, and The Ellen Show


Money Coaching has become a key proof point for Capital One, demonstrating that we’re truly on your side.

  • Money Coaching is now offered in six markets at eight Capital One Cafés, including Boston, LA, San Francisco, and Austin
  • As of May 2017, we have delivered over 500 Money Coaching sessions, including to many employees who have become internal advocates for the work and the new approach to helping our customers
  • Money Coaches are building a community of practice within Capital One
  • Elements of Money Coaching are poised to integrate into the broader Capital One ecosystem
  • When asked how likely they were to recommend Capital One to a friend or family member based on their experience with Money Coaching, customers rated us with an NPS score of 90 during the first two months of our revised service model

  • "By scratching the sales pitch and instead offering valuable perks… they may have young professionals who aren’t already with the bank asking, ‘Why not sign up?’” —Business Insider

  • “Being financially confident can free you up to deal with the other stressors in your life, and make smart money decisions that can help make your day-to-day better… isn’t it nice that Capital One offers the coaching sessions for free?” —Refinery29


For people who are making a big life change, feeling overwhelmed with their current financial situation, or just a little stressed about money, Capital One Money Coaching can help.


You’ll explore what matters to you, and where you want to go with your life and money.


You’ll uncover what’s weighing you down and keeping you from making changes.


You’ll create a plan with your coach so you can do more to reach your goals.




  • “It went into life and career and your relationship with money. It’s different than anything I’ve seen.” —Aylon

  • “I’ve never thought about things in this way before… I have to start with my values. It’s huge. It’s a great service.” —Erika

  • “…it made me cry because the conversation triggered something really personal, but there were tissues for that at the ready!” —Sara

  • “I was able to receive enormous benefit which greatly changed my perspective on money and the course of my life for the better. I cannot recommend this service enough. I am so thankful to Capital One for providing this incredible life-changing experience for free.” —Sarah

  • “Through the money coaching process, he was able to get a better picture of what some of the near-term and long-term hurdles would be, and see how he could overcome the near-term hurdles first. He saw that he had more resources than he thought, and he saw a pathway through.” —Money Coach, Amanda Dewoody, describing the impact for one of her clients


Crossing Silos As is true in any large organization, it can be difficult navigating complexity and making connections outside our own worlds. Service Design requires collaboration with people in all parts of the organization and this was a key area of focus for us since we were operating within a 44,000 person company. We built relationships across the company and collaborated as a large cross-functional team to bring the Money Coaching service to life.

Working Differently As Service Designers, we wanted regular feedback from both customers and frontline staff. Being scrappy was important because we were in constant learning mode. Some of these ways of working challenged the status quo of our Legal, Risk, and Compliance partner teams. Yet as we continued, our partners also progressed and adopted a more iterative and co-creative approach. We learned how to collaborate successfully to cross all our t’s and dot our i’s within the business context without compromising customer needs.

Brand Love and Loyalty A core value proposition of Money Coaching for the business is helping build trust with customers and non-customers alike. This is truly unique and unexpected for a bank. It demonstrates that we are on the customer’s side. Sharing this story of reimagining banking through Money Coaching has generated positive press and brand loyalty.



“It was very revealing, like taking a blindfold off.” —Frontline Associate

“…we’re not just talking about finances, but also everything that comes with what you value in life.” —Frontline Associate

“It’s very low commitment, not invasive…I know people feel uneasy talking about their money and stuff.” —Frontline Associate

“People show up with curiosity and openness, and that turns into conscious reflection space. I see people come in looking like they’re going to see the principal, and they leave looking like they just got asked out on 19 dates. Eventually you witness transformation, and it’s inspiring.” —Lisa DiMatteo, Money Coach, Boston, MA

“I love seeing how Money Coaching changes people’s lives. I’m an entrepreneur, so I like being at the cutting edge with Capital One.” —Amanda Dewoody, Money Coach, Austin, TX

Validation from stakeholders


  • “The aim is to take the taboo out of money topics. I really think this is going to change the world!” —Lia Dean, Head of Capital One Cafés

  • “We are democratizing Money Coaching, making it accessible, appealing, and impactful for so many people. This is both strategic for the Bank and inspiring for everybody involved. I feel proud to be part of this journey!” —Christian De Pace, Business Director, Capital One Cafés

  • “Banks have earned a bad reputation for their aggressive sales tactics and exploiting customers. Money Coaching provides what customers want and deserve from their bank— helpful, selfless coaching that embraces them as whole people. This is going to change lives. —Ethan Wingfield, Sr. Business Director, Bank

  • “I am so proud to be part of a team that’s focused on making a difference in people’s lives by helping them feel more confident in their relationships with money!” —Jaci Stoltz, VP, Analytics, Capital One Cafés

  • “Services can and should be more than just completing a journey. Great services can be designed to both meaningfully change the lives of people and change the organization that delivers it. Money Coaching has done both, evolving from a question, to a pilot, to a service worth scaling.” —Brandon Schauer, Head of Emerging Practices

  • “[It] truly puts the customer front and center— and it’s a game changer... It has the potential to transcend the historically transactional nature of the customer-bank relationship. Money Coaching opens the door to a better path forward by giving us a new way to deliver meaningful value to customers.” —Chris LoCascio, Market Executive, Bank


  • “I didn’t want to pour over my finances with someone sitting across a mahogany desk. Instead, I found a hands-on digital experience that was a lot of fun to explore. We never talked numbers. Capital One never mentioned products or services. Instead, it was an experience focused on my goals and how to achieve them. It felt like a conversation with a life coach and not the Excel sheet and calculator experience I had imagined.” —Dad Logic

  • “Money coaching sessions…are about setting achievable goals for yourself to create better financial habits.” —Feathers and Stripes

  • “Despite what you may think, Money Coaching is not a giant ad to get you banking at Capital One. It’s a personalized service, free, and available to anyone, including non-customers.” —Fox on Stocks

  • “Money coaches look at the bigger picture— your life as a whole—and help you to align your values with your money strategy.” —A Debt Free Stress Free Life


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