Putting a dent in the student debt crisis

How we helped Thrivent create financial products for a new generation

Thrivent Financial is a Fortune 300 mission-driven financial services company that encourages its members to “be wise with money.”

With an ambitious vision and a call to expand their member base, several business units across the Thrivent enterprise sought to develop new products and services that would help them connect with younger audiences - from Millennial parents to Gen Z high school students.

Over the past three years, Highland has helped Thrivent research, design, and build digital products that connect the organization with a new generation of members.

We wouldn’t be achieving our business goals without Highland. Everyone on their team was very clear on what we set out to do. We worked with an incredibly high-caliber group.
Jill Cole
Director of Membership, Thrivent Financial

Understanding Jobs to be Done

Highland’s Customer Experience team used human-centered design and lean startup methods to deepen our understanding of their target audiences and clarify business goals.

We used journey mapping and the Jobs to be Done research methods to understand the push and pull forces driving potential members of the Gen Z and Millenial generations to action. By examining journeys and jobs, we identified several opportunities to better serve the financial needs of teens, young adults, and parents of young children.

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 products and our users.
Jennifer Vaillancourt
Manager, Marketing and Curriculum Delivery, Thrivent Student Resources

Building to learn

As we tested prototypes and analyzed research, it was clear that Gen Zs and Millennials needed a better way to prepare for and pay for college.

In crowded market of college loan providers dominated by institutions looking to make as much from students as they possibly could, Thrivent decided to take a counter-market position. They created a digital platform called Thrivent Student Resources, designed to help students better understand their financial options so that they could take out as few loans as possible.

An early prototype of the Thrivent Student Resources website

We developed the platform 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 Thrivent tens of thousands of dollars 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 many of the digital products we built for Thrivent. 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, consumer-facing products despite short development cycles.

Thrivent Student Resources was built with a mobile-first, responsive design

Trending up, up, and up

Thrivent Student Resources has been one of Thrivent's most successful digital innovation projects to date, far exceeding the company's original user adoption goals. Jen Vaillancourt, the program's Manager of Marketing and Curriculum Delivery, shared:

Our website and curriculum is somewhat of a shining star around here. It has been very successful. We were tasked with registering 3,500 users in our first year and we ended up with over 14,000. This year we’ve doubled that - we’re at 32,000. We keep trending up, up, and up.

Thrivent team has been thrilled with Highland's work and partnership, and continues to partner with us on digital innovation and product strategy across the enterprise.

What makes Highland unique is the intellect and the experience you get when you work with them, as well as the nimbleness of the team. Because Highland is not a huge company, they have the ability to be much more adaptable. As we learn things, we’re able to adjust. I think a bigger consulting firm would have challenges around that. Highland leadership has done an exceptional job of making sure that they have a team of highly-skilled, very accomplished practitioners.
Jill Cole
Director of Membership, Thrivent Financial

Partner with us

At Highland, we research, design, and build digital products and experiences for customer-centric companies and mission-driven organizations. For over 20 years, our team of designers, developers, and strategists have helped organizations turn their biggest uncertainties into opportunities for growth.

We've built and launched over 268 digital products, and we'd love to help you take your idea from dream to delivered.

Ready to get started? Get in touch.

Suzanne Fichter

Director of New Business Development