<img alt="" src="https://secure.office-information-24.com/785633.png" style="display:none;">

Heywood Pension Tech

 During the pandemic, a lot of things changed in a very short space of time. With workers no longer allowed to go into the office, traditional means of communication such as telephone and post became increasingly problematic as we all scrambled to embrace working from home.

In this initial period of upheaval, it made perfect sense for pension providers to encourage members to use online alternatives. For Heywood and our customers, this meant that people were directed to our Member Self-Service (MSS) platform.


Over the years, MSS has been amended and improved in order to help cater for online retirements. The sudden influx of new users highlighted the enthusiasm for a digital self-service solution and a requirement for more engaging features than ever before.


As a result, the decision was made that the best solution for our customers and for their members would be to rebuild MSS from the ground up, delivering substantial change and the product that we knew the industry needed.


Enter Kainos


Most of our existing product upgrades had been guided solely by the requests of our customers, the pension schemes. Although this isn’t a bad thing, we wanted to make sure that going forward we put the end users —the scheme members— first. Redesigning the member-facing platform would be the perfect chance to change this and introduce truly user-focused design.


To accelerate our ability and capacity to do this type of research, we sought the help of market-leading digital agency Kainos, which has a history of working with and delivering successful products for large public sector and government organisations.


With Kainos on board, a full-time user researcher was embedded into the design team. We started by gathering pre-existing research and speaking to members of the Heywood team to help us set our research goals. As we spoke to more people, themes began to emerge about who these users are and where they believed the problems were. We now just needed to prove our hypothesis by speaking to customers and users.

  1. Who are the people preparing for retirement?

  2. What are the different levels of engagement with pensions amongst those preparing for retirement and why?

  3. When and how do people prepare to retire?

  4. What are people preparing to retire hoping to achieve?

  5. What pain points do people face when preparing for retirement?

  6. What makes pension information and software trustworthy?

  7. What does the ideal journey to retirement look like for a user?

Customer research


At Heywood, we’re lucky to have strong working relationships with our customers, many of whom were eager to help with our research. As they speak to their members on a daily basis, they were able to provide a lot of information regarding what members are doing and saying.


During these sessions, we discussed their current online support and retirement processes. All of those interviewed used our software but they had all developed slightly different ways of processing and managing their members' requests. Going through these journeys really helped us identify where the pain points were for both members and fund managers and gave us a very clear picture of who our most engaged users were.


Member research


We were aware from existing data that despite MSS being a platform for anyone of working age, there was a tendency for users to only really engage with it as they approached retirement age. Our customer research confirmed this was the case. Users may register early on when they join the fund but disengage until they are actually approaching retirement. This gave us two problems to solve:

  1. How we make the experience better for members who are already engaged?

  2. How do we engage those that aren't?

For this initial piece of research, we decided to focus on improving the experience for those members who were already engaged.

 Find out what we discovered in part two of this blog!

James Marshall is Heywood’s Lead Product Designer and part of the UX team responsible for designing meaningful product solutions. They also support our agile teams by providing research insights, user testing sessions and conducting interviews with key stakeholder groups.