To help the team understand and build empathy for our potential users and anchor our product strategy on real user needs, I dove into my next three phases of research: phone interviews with retirement-age adults, in-person interviews, and a robust national survey.
I first conducted 45-minute phone interviews with seven adults aged 55 - 71. These individuals ranged in terms of retirement status, amount of money saved, attitudes towards aging, and investment preferences.
I identified candidates via friends, colleagues, and family members. This research served as my starting point for understanding user needs, testing early assumptions, and building hypotheses for our product vision. During the calls, I asked interviewees about their fears around money and aging, financial goals, approaches to saving and investment, and attitudes towards their current financial advisors.
The conversations proved telling. Interviewees expressed deep worries around getting older, having enough money, investing assets correctly, and making the wrong decisions. I noticed that even in talking to me — a casual, low stakes conversation — individuals felt a need to apologize for their perceived failures. One woman stated, “I tried to think about why I haven’t dealt with my finances. I don’t want to see how much we’ve lost in the stock market. I guess I really don’t know what I’m doing. When I think about needing money after retirement… I just wonder if it’s too late.” Others expressed a profound lack of trust in advisors and a sense of helplessness in knowing who to turn to. One man angily remarked, “You can’t trust anyone. They just want to make a commission. All those companies are structured to act in their own interest. What am I supposed to do?”
With this initial data, I began to define the “job to be done” — the critical issue our product would need to address — as well as a potential customer profile. After synthesizing my insights in a report for True Link’s leadership team, I used the questions that surfaced among the team as the basis for my next round of research.
Next, I conducted in-person interviews. I wanted to test our early thinking, observe both verbal and non-verbal responses, and encourage subjects to “think out loud.”