June 23, 2014

Prudential Retirement, a division of Prudential Financial, Inc., has launched a series of digital tools to improve retirement saving habits among plan participants, sponsors and intermediaries. The new offerings have already contributed to an uptick in customer contributions.

Participants can now join employers’ plans on mobile-ready enrollment website Quick Join, track goals with the Day One Achievement Meter, and receive personalized reports with an upgraded Retirement Income Calculator (RIC). Plan sponsors can gauge the effectiveness of participants' retirement plans through informative tool Plan Health. Prudential Retirement also collaborated with Prudential Investments to create “Experience Day One,” an interactive website that gives participants insight on how life events can affect retirement goals.

The dedicated internal team at Prudential took a behavioral approach in the tools’ development and surveyed 401(k) participants across a broad range of age and income demographics from Prudential and its competitors. Its goal was to learn more about their retirement plans in addition to preferences and challenges for using digital tools.

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“We are constantly looking to improve our user experience and the tools that we provide to participants,” says Michael O’Sullivan, director of digital strategy at Prudential Retirement. “You have to get people emotionally involved and invested in it.”

Research indicated that most consumers respond well to visual reinforcement, now a key component of each tool. One example is the Day One Achievement Meter, which instructs users to identify retirement goals and motivates them to save by providing visual representation of their future plans. The RIC also encourages customers to think about their retirement goals with personalized reports and savings action plans.

“Thinking about retirement can be difficult because it’s very far off,” O’Sullivan explains. “When people have a specific goal in mind, they’re more motivated to do something towards that goal.”

User interfaces were created with assistance from an outside firm and emphasize responsive design. More people will use the tools on mobile devices, says O’Sullivan, and developers wanted to ensure account access at all times. Tools are found on the Prudential website, which alters its interface and reprioritizes content to suit the varying screen sizes of smartphones, tablets and desktops.

Plan Health
Prudential's Plan Health

The team continued to develop and adjust the tools according to user opinions garnered through a variety of means including online surveys, focus groups and one-on-one interviews. “Everything that we designed and developed was tested with all age groups,” O’Sullivan says. “We cast a wide net and we got a lot of great feedback.”

Consumer testing revealed that younger generations gravitate towards more visually appealing features and gamification capabilities while older consumers more narrowly focus on numbers. In order to cater to all technological skill levels, developers included an option for users to skip over steps they find unappealing.

Since their release in December 2013, the tools have effectively increased plan contributions. Usage of the upgraded RIC has more than tripled, O’Sullivan explains, and the amount of customers increasing their savings has more than doubled. “We’re getting participants to take action,” he says.

Prudential does multiple releases for its products each year, the next of which is scheduled for July 2014. Plan Health, which is used to keep participants updated on their plan’s progress, will be upgraded to feature print capabilities. Participants and sponsors will be able to save their information in PDF format, add commentary and visuals, and print it to share with those who cannot access the account online.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly is an associate editor for Insurance & Technology. Prior to joining InformationWeek Financial Services, she was a staff writer for InformationWeek and InformationWeek Education. Kelly has also written for trade ...