Behalf offers short term purchase financing to small businesses at affordable rates and flexible repayment options. Our repayment options span from 1 to 180 days in one-time, weekly, or monthly installments with financing up to $50,000.

As the Director of User Experience at Behalf, our team spends a lot of the time building and optimizing our external products, but we try to dedicate a good amount of time to internal products — automation and self service tools and processes enable us to scale efficiently instead of becoming victims of our own success.

We sat down with various departments in the company including Customer Support, Sales, and Risk to listen to their everyday problems. After collecting all of the feedback, we decided to prioritize according to what we believed would move the needle for the overall business and work within our resources. We decided the best project to focus on first was the Repayment Restructuring Tool for the Customer Support team.

Research and Goals

After spending a couple of days shadowing the Customer Support team. I came up with a couple key findings:

  • Restructuring wasn’t handled in real-time.
  • The entire repayment restructuring was done manually with a calculator and a notepad so a 1–2 day delay was usually expected depending on the CS backlog.
  • There are several variables to plug into the repayment formula so the probability for human error was very high.
  • Because this was done offline the repayment options didn’t fully involve the customer, which affected the overall flexibility of the plans.

The goal was to build a tool that allowed the support team to create repayment options in real-time based on each customer’s unique constraints. Because this process is so high touch, this tool would help reinforce Behalf’s mission around being more customer-centric, transparent, and flexible.

Initial Ideas and Sketches

To to humanize the tool around the office, we decided to call it BERT (short for Behalf Repayment/Restructuring Tool).

Our restructuring plans have multiple variables, some being fixed depending on the plan, while others open to overrides and exceptions.

Variables included a Non-Sufficient Fund Fee, Restructuring Fee, and Write-Off Amount. Payment Period options are Weekly, Monthly, One-Time, and Net.

For inspiration I took a look at several air travel sites, mortgage calculators, and even receipts.

Wireframe/Prototype Review with Support and Developer Teams

I started designing the wires in Sketch and presented the click-through screens in Invision.

After putting wireframes in front of the team I noticed they were distracted by the numbers — in this case we needed the math to be more accurate to convey the impact. This led me to the idea of using Excel to build a working model. I started with a basic depreciation financial model and added some tweaks to match the variables we needed to plug in. This gave the team an interim tool to use, and also allowed us to validate the core value of the tool while we built out the full experience.

Initially I thought structuring the page like a receipt with the installment payments above and variables below near the total was intuitive, but after some testing I noticed people were getting confused. I decided to flip the order and move the variables up top that would subsequently affect the installment payments below.

Further Iterations from Learnings

  • Even though the logic would help automate the math for the general use case we still needed to add flexibility for exceptions and overrides. At first I included an entire “Custom” section but it added an unnecessary complexity. Instead, I decided to add an “auto split” payments toggle. When toggled off it would allow the team to lock individual installment amounts in the case that a customer could only pay a specific max amount at any given date.
  • To expedite the process even more I thought some quick toggles for the repayment options could help. I decided to add three repayment curve buttons — when triggered, they would automatically set installments to gradually increase, all evenly split, or gradually decrease over time.
Repayment Curve Toggles: Low to High, Evenly Split, High to Low
  • I added a save payment changes confirmation popup so users could make sure everything looked correct before finalizing the plan. I thought it was also helpful to sum everything up in a sentence format to read out to customers.

Final Thoughts

Some areas that I noticed could be improved:

  • Making the initial search more robust by integrating Elasticsearch, this could allow the team to search by more intuitive queries such as business name, owner name, and email.
  • Adjust the Repayment Plan Details UI to make it easier to see the history of previous adjustments to a plan.

After development, I followed up with the Customer Support team to see the live tool in use. They were now able to restructure plans in a couple of seconds which had a significant impact on their day-to-day workflow. As usage of the tool increases It will be interesting to see if any patterns emerge from the data. I’m sure the tool will evolve as we move forward but it’s refreshing to see it delivered on it’s core value.

Designs

Below are some final polished screens that match our brand UI/UX.

Tools

Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe After Effects, Sketch, Principle, Invision, Microsoft Excel