Over the past decade SpringFive has provided consumers in need with thousands of referrals to financial products and resources in their area. With subscribers at top mortgage servicers, banks, and nonprofits, SpringFive is designed so that agents with little training and knowledge of social services can use it to improve their customers’ financial security. Looking to increase subscription renewal rates and expand to the financial services and fintech space, our team partnered with SpringFive to create a product road map supported by research and user interviews.

Setting the scene

In SpringFive's desktop experience, counselors and agents can search for resources by zip code, review them in their resource summary, and ultimately share the information with callers through a variety of delivery methods. Though SpringFive's internal team had several assumptions they wanted to test, they were unable to consistently communicate with their user base due to high security environments and the protected nature of consumers’ personal data.  For the site to adapt as its demands had grown, we needed a deeper understanding of the two user groups: agents and counselors.

From workaround to better workflow

By having users describe in detail their typical workflows, we began to better understand their pain points and uncover areas where we could make the largest impact. Through our conversations it became clear that while counselors and agents had the same goals, their behaviors and motivations were very different. With their high call volume and tight turnaround time, we decided to focus on agents, the fastest growing user group. Because they needed a tool that connected them to resources as efficiently as possible, solving for agents would also benefit counselors, who had more time and attention to give, as well as satisfy the bottom line for decision makers.

In the existing product there were 30 different categories with no hierarchy or high-level explanations to help agents guide their customers. Often users would create their own workaround or forward the caller all 30 resources without any direction. Users needed an experience with more opportunities for self-service - one that had more intuitive IA, scannable descriptions for resources, and flexible options that still complemented existing company workflows.

Listening to users

Next we conducted internal ideation sessions to better understand what would resonate with users. After sharing a series of high-level concepts with users, we learned we didn’t need to shake things up as much as we thought, though there were clear opportunities for improvement.

Our main takeaways were clear - we needed to establish intuitive and distinct categories and increase efficiency between resources and referral summaries.

Testing and prototyping

With these insights in hand we created a prototype to test out key tasks. For the resource categories this meant understanding how testers searched for resources in a specific zip code. We needed to understand how testers viewed their referral summary and how they chose their preferred information delivery method. We also wanted to gain as much insight as possible into how users grouped the different categories.

For our solution we redesigned the two core screens of the product: the categories page and the referral summary page. Eliminating the steps involved in connecting the two would help users make informed decisions more efficiently. In our prototyping sessions I led the team in ensuring that we addressed the following areas:

We allowed users to easily access frequent actions. We created a “Most Referred” and “Refer all” section. We also created solutions that addressed the needs of agents through the “Select all” or “Top 3” referral options, but still allowed flexibility for counselors that required more details.

We made it easy to quickly share information in different formats. We grouped all three delivery methods together, placing Send, Copy All, and Print prominently at the top of the referral summary. We created hierarchy to call out the preferred agent option and eliminated the number of clicks it took to send an email.

We made information appear in a natural and logical order. We reduced memory load by grouping together categories and subcategories based on insights from interviews and card sorting exercises.

The impact

We translated these takeaways into actionable next steps for the client. We experienced first-hand how agents valued efficiency and were risk-averse, demonstrating the need for a carefully crafted approach that included incremental changes to existing task flows and gradual feature rollouts to the platform.

This combination of streamlined categories, intuitive interactions, and data-driven tracking for referrals would create a more efficient user experience and give the product a strong competitive edge. We organized these next steps into near-term and long-term goals, with call-outs for key audiences and areas of further exploration.