Putting a dent in the student debt crisis

Developing a new product for a Gen-Z audience with Thrivent Financial

The Highland team analyzing research.

The Challenge

Thrivent Financial is a mission-driven financial services company that encourages its members to “be wise with money.”

Thrivent was aware of the massive debt burden that students often incur when making a college decision without the full knowledge of their loan and financial aid options. Thrivent created the Thrivent Student Resources (TSR) platform to help students better understand the real cost of higher education so that they could minimize - or avoid - student loan debt.

The launch of this new brand was a major priority for Thrivent, and the organization wanted to build a new consumer-facing website in just under three months.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate the Highland partnership. Our team never missed a beat. I couldn’t have been happier with the mindshare they devoted to our website and our users.
Jennifer Valliancourt
Manager, Marketing and Curriculum Delivery, Thrivent Student Resources

The Process

At the start of the project, Highland’s Customer Experience team used human-centered design and lean startup methods to deepen our understanding of TSR’s audiences and clarify business goals.

We developed the site using Agile and Kanban methods, allowing designers and developers to rapidly adapt to new learnings about user needs. Our practice of collecting ongoing user feedback and testing site features before fully building them out saved TSR an estimated $35,000 in development costs.

Another critical component to cost and time savings was Thrivent’s use of the OutSystems low-code development platform, which served as the backbone of the site. Because Thrivent was already using OutSystems, the simplicity of a low-code development platform made it easier for marketers, developers, and designers to collaborate on content in order to meet their shared goal of delivering a robust website in a short timeframe.

We wouldn’t be achieving our business goals without this site. Everyone at Highland was very clear on what we set out to do. We worked with an incredibly high-caliber team.
Jill Cole
Chief Marketing Officer, Thrivent Student Resources

The Outcome

A tablet view of the Thrivent Student Resources website, which was designed and built by Highland.

The TSR website was launched before its anticipated deadline to a potential audience of 20 million students across the United States. In just three months, all planned and additional requested functionalities were built and implemented. Thrivent estimated that this project would have taken three times longer using a traditional development approach.

Jennifer Vaillancourt, Manager of Marketing and Curriculum Delivery at Thrivent Student Resources, shared that TSR's ongoing success has been recognized across the organization:

"Our website and curriculum is somewhat of a shining star around here. It has been very successful. We were tasked with registering 3500 users in our first year and we ended up with over 14,000. This year we’ve doubled that - we’re at 36,000. We keep trending up, up, and up!

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Highland Solutions is a customer experience firm focused on CX strategy, custom software development, and CRM implementation. We help innovative leaders thrive in the experience economy by helping them understand their customers and take smart risks.

Tyler Etters

Vice President