a fresh perspective

Just Group Plc

A new self-serve journey for Equity Release customers.


Delivering better financial advice through self service

Project: Service Design & Rapid Prototyping

Client: JUST Group plc & HUB Financial Solutions

Category: Business to Consumer / Fintech

Responsibilities: Workshop Facilitation, User Journeys, Hypothesis Driven Design, Prototyping, Experimentation, Monitoring, UX design, Research and Testing, Business Strategy.

The Challenge:

Just Group plc is a financial company who offer their customers the chance to enjoy a fair, secure and fulfilling retirement by unlocking the value of their home. They offer products to the recently retired or people nearing retirement. One of their products is called Equity Release. If you haven't saved for your retirement or you simply need some extra cash then you can apply for a lifetime mortgage and release the cash tied up in your home.

Their existing process was largely paper based and time consuming for both the customer and the internal team. Working with their in-house teams we looked into ways of streamlining and optimising the current process. We wanted to make improvements to the end customer’s journey as well as for the internal team of advisors, call centre staff and back-office teams.

Delivering successful change in a large organisation can be a tricky beast. It’s often difficult even in a small company, so the addition of more stakeholders, regulations, and technical constraints can make things downright frustrating, but get it right and it can be so rewarding, read more about how we approach service design projects in large organisations here.

Our approach:

This project was collaborative from the start, working with internal designers we mapped the themes that had emerged from a previous piece of user research. We highlighted gaps for further research and delved into customer behaviours. Someone from every team with an interest in Equity Release was interviewed. We discovered how financial advisors organise their time and put the needs of their customers first, we spoke to call centre teams about how they answer customer’s initial queries and learned all about the administration, regulation and compliance rules involved in providing Equity Release advice.

So we could start learning, we aimed to get prototypes live and in front of real customers as quickly as possible. In order to get there we created a “live” service blueprint, it was important that this document continued to grow and stay relevant throughout the project so we created it in a way that was easily updated by all.

Our research findings were formulated and distilled into a set of initial assumptions using a design hypothesis framework. Each hypothesis was based around a specific theme with the ultimate goal of proving or disproving our thinking. Hypothesis driven design formed the basis of our project sprints. Our hypotheses covered opportunities for each stage of the Equity Release process from how time was spent in the call centre, right through to financial advisory meetings and follow up admin.

With our initial hypotheses formed, we embarked on formulating an appropriate experiment that could help prove or disprove each of them. All our prototypes were created and tested in a live environment so we could gather feedback from customers in real-time.

Our experiments included:

  • Testing proposition statements, customer mindsets and tone of voice through advertising experiments.

  • Education based experiments looking at how we could better inform customers

  • Allowing customers to check their eligibility for Equity Release online without the need for a call to the call centre.

  • Allowing customers to check how suitable Equity Release is for their personal circumstances.

  • Facilitating and measuring the customer’s ability to fully apply for Equity Release online.

  • Reducing advisor meeting administration through more efficient self-serve journeys.

Working for a financial organisation meant there were many compliance and regulatory challenges to overcome. The collection of personal data had to be secure in order to meet existing company policies and GDPR regulations. All our experiments were tested in a live environment, this meant we were gathering feedback from real people, in real time. Qualitative research methods were used to delve deeper into specific findings, while live tests provided detailed metrics on completion rates, click events and drop-off points.

The results:

Tested with over 574 real customers

Conducted 66 interviews

5 Live experiments

Through our working prototypes we discovered the value exchange for the customer was not optimal, they were having to complete huge amounts of paperwork before seeing enough in return. We helped streamline the process and ensure essential information was gathered in the most time efficient way. Previously, advisors were spending a long time creating their presentation material, this was improved through our experiments by capturing customer information ahead of the first meeting with advisors. Our experiments had the potential to reduce 25 minutes from each appointment, a saving which meant financial advisors had more time to spend either advising or attending another appointment.

Highlights included:

  • We learnt about the importance of engendering trust and how more could be done to communicate effectively with existing and potential customers.

  • Timely connection supports customers in sound decision-making and positive action.

  • We learnt about how much of the journey a customer would be willing to complete online.

  • Customers who are at the right mindset, stage and knowledge level in their Equity Release journey are highly likely to self serve online.

If you are looking to improve a process that has historically been largely manual or paper based or you are thinking about how your customers might want to serve themselves to save time or money then we recommend testing your ideas. Our team of prototypers, designers and strategists can help you assess your opportunities and decide on the most appropriate experiments. We will use real-world experiments to determine how you can get the maximum return on your investment. We are experts in combining an array of the most appropriate research methods and testing with real customers, so drop us a line for a chat , we are ready to help!

Get in touch with Hana & Steve to discuss your idea, project or business.

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