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Financial Services Organization

Re-invigorating the customer experience of a retirement plan management system

The Challenge

LookThink was engaged to work with a financial services organization that serves over 1 million participants in 9,000+ retirement plans to completely revamp their primary customer-facing web portals. While the features and functionality of the portals were on par with competing providers, the customer experience and visual impression felt outdated. New business opportunities were being lost as a direct result, and so it was of paramount importance to quickly deploy a solution.

The internal technology team charged with maintaining these web portals was fully tasked with a portfolio of enterprise projects, and therefore was highly concerned that the proposed solution could be reasonably implemented within the existing infrastructure. Furthermore, the team lacked front-end web development expertise. Historically, this meant that similar initiatives (i.e. a visual refresh) had only ever been partially successful because consistent styles were difficult to support. After an intensive workshop that included all aspects of the business to understand the nuances, we adapted our approach and delivery to maximize the likelihood of success – in both the near and long terms. LookThink dug in quickly to formulate a six-month plan that would result in substantial changes to the visual appeal and usability of the major, customer-facing portals and tools.

LookThink was engaged to work with a financial services organization that serves over 1 million participants in more than 9,000 retirement plans across the country to completely revamp their primary customer-facing web portals.

The Solution

Our work began with an analysis of key competitor portals and a cross-departmental workshop to identify and document the pain points of the current portals – from navigation issues to taxonomy concerns and issues with visual consistency.

Strategic playbook

We then set out to validate our findings from both activities with actual users via one-on-one interviews, which helped round out a thorough understanding of the organization’s reality and relevant challenges. 

This analysis allowed us move forward confidently with select architectural changes aimed at streamlining the users’ access to commonly sought information and actions. In parallel, our design team explored and defined the visual brand language to introduce a more modern, and informative impression while maintaining cohesion with the existing brand.

Our design team explored and defined the visual brand language to introduce a more modern, and informative, impression while maintaining cohesion with the existing brand.

UXPin wireframe sample

The architecture and updated design came together in a UXPin prototype. This interactive prototype was used in one-on-one testing sessions with a variety of clients who could provide different user perspectives. These testing sessions provided valuable feedback that helped refine our assumptions from the research phase. 

The finalized prototype, along with testing results, were reviewed with project stakeholders, including key executives and leadership from the technology department. Weekly review sessions with these representatives were crucial to ensuring that everything we proposed was technically feasible and extensible before development began.

We then wrote and delivered the front-end code to be implemented across the targeted websites. In addition to coding the new styles, we assisted internal developers with the implementation process via onsite collaboration. The outcome of this exercise was equally productive (for the project) as it was instructive (for the technology team). Most of the old styles had to be stripped from the system altogether; we started over with a more modern, simplified structure. In order for the new experience to be successful, it was critical that the internal team fully understood how the solution had been structured and how to maintain it going forward. 

A financial services dashboard on various sized screens

The Result

The redesign of two portals, one mobile application, and some of the most important tools and calculators were finally released after 8 months of work. At the onset of this project, we established a series of metrics to evaluate success. Follow-on analysis of user feedback (as gathered by surveys), site analytics, and direct input from key clients all indicated that that the revamped experience was well-received as an intuitive and effective leap forward. The project caused minimal disturbance for support teams who were accustomed to a barrage of feedback and questions after similar redesign projects in the past.

in enrollments

Perhaps even more telling was the metric reported by the call center staff  within the first week of the new system being live: that they received a sum total of 9 calls with questions – out of a million users.

We were also happy to learn that these improvements led to a 110% increase in enrollments for their most prominent paid services program. Moreover, the new mobile experience was recognized in by a leading industry expert for financial technology, in the categories of discoverability, branding, and engagement. 

The success of this project has resulted in a trusted partnership, and LookThink is already working on other design initiatives to further modernize the look and feel of their web-based tools and applications. Moreover, the client’s internal technology team has been able to easily make several maintenance updates to the portal experience themselves, based on the flexibility of the new front-end code. We are excited that the success of this initiative has instilled an organizational motivation to continue improving the customer experience. 

Before and after comparison shot of FSO's interface


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