The Glow up of the Partner Experience / April 2022

To build intuitive experiences that effectively solves manual expense management, so that every accounting partner feels empowered to do their best work for all their clients.

Team

The team consisted of 1 product manager, 3 FE engineers and 2 BE engineers. My role as a product designer included initial discovery, user research, explorations, validation testing and visual design.

Background

Pleo is an expense management solution for forward thinking teams. Employees make expenses, admins review them and bookkeepers handle the rest. As for accounting partners, they empower their own clients with Pleo's smart company cards.

Created in 2020, the partner portal served as a tool for accounting partners to manage all their clients and expenses. It was built as an MVP that only served as a gateway for partners to access their clients' Pleo accounts. Then it had a glow up. This is the story of how that came about (in a short summary).

Photo of a bookkeeper handling paper receipts

Problem

The partner portal did not provide much value to accounting partners other than being a gateway to access their clients' accounts. Commercial and user insights led to the definition of the MVP of the partner portal 2.0.

When partners log in, they should land on a main page that shows an overview of their main concerns. From numerous user interviews, these were identified as:

  • Easier client and task management
  • Low wallet balance
  • Overview of missing receipts
  • Expenses ready to be exported
UI elements with note annotations

Process

With this project, there were two main objectives:

  • To understand how to enhance the user experience of the client page to increase engagement amongst partners
  • To better understand the roles of a partner admin and employee in an accounting practice

Working together with the User Research team, interviews with partners from various markets were carried out to identify pain points, current usage patterns as well as differences between admins and employees. All of this was then collected and broken down into tags and insights.

After some initial ideas and prototypes were created, two additional rounds of user testings were ran for validation testing. To ensure the right thing was being built, and that it was intuitive enough, all user testers had two tasks to complete.

Abstract diagram illustrating insights and key data points

Challenges

There was a huge amount of new information and data being introduced into the portal. One of the biggest challenges was simplicity to ensure that the partner could focus on one thing at a time, without feeling overwhelmed.

We identified specific actions that we wanted to prioritise on a page. Then, we went with a progressive disclosure approach where the partner could see high level key information at a glance, but if they needed additional details, they knew where to find them.

For example, detailed overviews of a client's account could live in a drawer which partners could easily access from the client page. By having it in a drawer, the partners are able to see key data points in the right sidebar, without navigating away from the main client page. The introduction of opt-in email notifications meant that the partner could always stay updated with their clients' accounts and resolve any pending actions.

UI of the filters in the partner portal client page

UI of the filters in the partner portal client page

UI of the partner portal client page

Outcomes

Upon the release of the new client page, tracking was implemented to compare the older and newer versions. By the second month, the new client page had outperformed the old version by more than 100%. By the fourth month, the gap between both versions had decreased but the new client page still retained more views than its predecessor.

Tracking data of old and new client page

Another interesting insight was the significant difference between the two types of views: my clients and all clients. Almost all partners stayed with the my clients view, which was a personalised list of clients that only they manage. This could also be down to the larger number of employees versus admins, because only admins can see the other view that lists all the clients in the accountancy.

Iterations

Post release of the new client page, one recurring feedback was that partners were unaware that they had to be assigned to a client prior to having access to manage their account. After adding a tooltip that appears on hover over the disabled state, it still did not solve the problem as partners did not hover long enough to notice the tool tip and got frustrated.

Overview of UI changes and process

Be proactive instead of reactive. The latest iteration involved transforming the disabled state into an actionable state for the partner. Instead of informing them what they had to do first, this can be reflected directly in the button action. As soon as they assigned the client to themselves, they could then manage their client's accounts. Once this improvement was live, the original problem was resolved as there were no further struggles with partners accessing a client's account.

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