Tag Archive | Customer experience

Can big organizations be agile?

For big companies, change is hard and slow. No news here. However, corporations that are successful, keep up with the change. How is it done? A few quite interesting points were raised at an event on how to engage your customers in developing digital services organized by Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce. The event was held on December 10th, 2018 and we heard keynotes from Harri M. Nieminen from Kesko and Mirette Kangas from Yle. In both organizations, service design or design thinking methods were adapted in order to drive change and develop value for the customers. I was keen to hear how change is driven in big organizations, like Kesko and Yle.

Kesko’s Lead Service Designer Harri M. Nieminen shed a bit of light to the way Kesko has started to utilize Service Design methods. As digitalization keeps accelerating, the role and power of the customer grows ever more – and in order to stay in the game, corporations, both big and small have to understand the customer. Understanding the customer is the key to provide excellent customer experience, always and everywhere. This is what Kesko is also aiming for. With his designer team, Nieminen is supporting the organization in building up winning customer experience and a seamless connection between the brick and mortar business and digital services.  

Founder of Agile Company Culture Accelerator Mirette Kangas talked about how YLE has transformed their company culture. At YLE, developing company culture is tangible and practical everyday work. Not a program or a project.  It’s all about learning together and curiously utilizing different models and methods. Part of their mindset is also to share the tools used for others to try as well.

Keep the processes light

To me it seemed that at Kesko, they cherish agility throughout their design processes.  To start with, they emphasize the importance of framing the problem in every project. The key question always is: What are we trying to solve and are we actually looking at the right problem? After the framing and solutions and ideas, they proceed quickly to prototyping. Instead of making it a huge and time-consuming project, the testing phase would, ideally, come in the third day of a three-day sprint. Experience at Kesko show that people are surprisingly willing to give their time and participate in developing new services. So, instead of waiting for the investment decision for a prototype, the insights can be gained through light means as well. The idea is to get things rolling quickly.

At YLE the agile company culture is built on experimentation too. And as Kangas emphasized, it’s not just building it, the culture is also changed through experimentation. However, it has to be systematic, not just experimenting for the sake of it. The point behind all these activities is to ensure YLE’s competitiveness in digitalization. The focus is in the future and innovative methods are implemented in everyday work.

How to succeed?

Design methods, experimentation and keeping your eyes in the future. What else is there to keep in mind, when transforming a large corporation? Both Nieminen and Kangas had some useful tips to share. Here’s my summary of their most valuable points.

  • Ensure things get done. When starting a project, make sure there’s ownership in the organization. Otherwise things might just hang loose in the air.  
  • Keep the customer in mind, always. When developing a new service, keep asking how the customer has been involved and what’s the feedback.
  • Base the change of an organization on voluntariness. It’s the basis for growth and mutual learning.
  • Leadership matters. The leader must reflect every day whether s/he is a preventer or promoter.

By the way, if you want to read more about the event, there’s another blog post about it here.

Engaging customers in developing digital services

Event: Kuinka osallistat asiakkaat digipalveluidesi kehittämiseen? (How to engage your customers in developing your digital services?)

Time: 10.12.2018, 8.30 – 11.30

Place: Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce

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Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce has organized a series of events related to digitalisation, out of which this was the 6th one. I haven’t participated the previous events but will definitely keep my eyes open for the next ones now that I got to enjoy this free event where we were served with inspiring presentations as well as both breakfast and brunch. Perfect!

Introduction

The event was opened by Maarit Heikkilä from Digital Discovery. She gave us insights about why service design has become so popular lately and shared her experiences in the industry.

According to Maarit, we live in a time where the customer has finally been brought in the centre of all processes. This has happened mainly due to three reasons:

  1. Unlimited supply of products and services from all over the world
  2. Recommendations and transparency through social media
  3. Customer experience as a relevant competitive factor

Maarit also went through the service design process and the importance of its steps. Some key points from her were that if we don’t define the problem, we won’t get proper solutions, and that we should bravely put even the wildest ideas to test with customers as soon as possible in order to receive feedback and fix things based on that.

Service design at Kesko

The first keynote presentation was held by Kesko’s Lead Service Designer, Harri M. Nieminen. Even though the event focused on digital services, Harri wanted to point out that digitality is not a value in itself but rather a means of doing things. We should take advantage of the digital possibilities but not let digitality restrict us. It is also important to align the experiences in digital and physical channels as the customer won’t separate those two but will choose the channel that serves their current needs in the best possible way.

A project often starts with a request for an application. However, according to Harri, you should first create brilliant content and only then decide a suitable channel for it. A reponsive webpage can actually be a lot better option than an app – you don’t need to download anything or make room for another app in your already full phone. Especially when some content is needed only for a certain time period, you can do like Slush did and go for a webpage instead of an application.

The key factor in service design is a customer-centric way of thinking. The world is full of tools and methods but it doesn’t make sense to utilize them unless you sincerely want to make things better for the customer. If you are able to put yourself in the shoes of the customer you’ll also design the services more objectively. Often it also requires reading between the lines: if the customer requests a fix for a symptom X, it might actually be better to solve Y that is causing the symptom. Harri also presented us with the holy trinity of creating successful services: business for viability, technology for feasibility and design for desirability. If one of these viewpoints is missing, it will be difficult to succeed.

Like Maarit, also Harri brought up that solving problems is hard (and often takes a lot of money and resources), so you’d better be sure that you’re solving the right problem. It is important to empathize before defining anything, and you shouldn’t be scared of half-baked assignments – the assignment can and maybe even should change during the process. It is sometimes hard to prove the value of discovery to a non-designer, and it can be more difficult to get a 50k budget for investigating if something is worth investing into than the actual investment of 500k or more.

According to Harri, trying things out even just out of curiousity is always worth it. You will always learn something during the process.

Transformation at Yle

Mirette Kangas from Yle talked about their transformation towards a customer-centric, agile culture. Three key insights from her presentation were as follows:

  1. It is not enough to learn methods, tools and customs but you need to change yourself
  2. It is not enough for a leader to enable change but they need to promote it and lead from the front
  3. Culture of experimentation is not about senseless experiments but systematic doing

 

All in all the event was inspiring, and especially Harri’s presentation was a good overview of current trends and considerations in service design. I was also happy to notice that there wasn’t really anything totally new to me but I could feel myself as an equal expert in the audience, listening to a colleague.

More information and ideas:

https://digitaldiscovery.io/

Kesko’s customer community Kylä: https://k-kyla.fi/

Yle Lean Culture Toolkit: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1NkGRe-YACIcxextpkZLD-HTydZ1ifPyY/view

(Service) Designers, what for?

by Kaisa Hölttä

On the very first day of the Design Thinking course by Professor Katja Tschimmel, two existential questions rose in my mind: What is the role of a (service) designer in the innovation process? In the world where customers´role is more and more emphasizes, can customers even take a full responsibility of design processes themselves?

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Designer? Photo: Pexels.com

In Change by Design, Tim Brown refers to his colleague Jane Fulton Suri who explores if the next step in design evolution is moving from designing for people to with people, to designing by customers themselves (Brown 2009, 58). This approach suggests that even a customer can be a designer. So can we move from earlier producer-generated ideology all the way to the user-generated one? What makes us future designers then?

City of Helsinki has recently introduced a participatory budgeting, where 4,4 million euros will be allocated annually to city development proposals made by the residents. The Participatory model utilizes know-how and expertise of individuals and communities and gives people an opportunity to design urban initiatives themselves. One could think that there is a torrent of proposals on line. However, just few weeks ago, a friend who works in engaging local communities to urban development, wondered, why only a small number of people seem to be interested in the participatory budgeting.

I would claim that there is lot of latent potential out there but people find it hard to conceptualize their thoughts and ideas, and turn them into concrete suggestions – or even imagine beyond the usual. As Brown puts it, analytical and convergent thinking are so dominant in education it makes us think that creativity is something that belongs only to a few talented ones (Brown 2009, 222-223).

This is where the role of designers step in. We need Design Thinking methods to articulate people´s latent needs and to convert them into concrete suggestions and protypes, in co-creation with the people. Creativity needs practice, and support. Designer´s role is to encourage people to give up their mental constrains and help them to “braindump” their thoughts. Quantity over quality. Without new approach and Design Thinking tools, it is hard to gain “rule-breaking, game-changing, paradigm-shifting breakthroughs”, Brown stresses (2009, 40).

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Practicing Design Thinking tools. Photo: Kaisa Hölttä

Therefore, new initiatives should not be designed only by customers themselves but together with them. According to Tschimmel, in the participatory approach product users should been seen as experts and partners in the whole creative process, from data research on to prototyping the new ideas and design solutions (Tschimmel 2012, 4).

In case of the participatory budgeting, people should be included in the design processes already in the inspiration (Brown 2009) or emergence (Tschimmel 2012) phase, and not left alone with their unclarified needs. Helsinki residents are experts in their own urban experiences. In order to convert these experiences into concrete proposals, we need Design Thinking methods, and educated designers to facilitate the co-creation process.

References:
Brown, Tim 2009. Change by design: how design thinking can transform organizations and inspire innovation. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Tschimmel, Katja 2012. Design Thinking as an effective Toolkit for Innovation. In: Proceedings of the XXIII ISPIM Conference: Action for Innovation: Innovating from Experience. Barcelona.

What is Customer Journey and why others besides sales and marketing people should be interested about it?

What is Customer Journey and why others besides sales and marketing people should be interested about it?

 

Customer Persona

Before starting to formulate customer journey, it is important to define customer personas, to whom these journeys will be created. A while ago, I wrote about what Customer Personas are and why those are useful. Below you can find short definition and through the link complete blog in Finnish.

 

”Customer Persona (Customer-Avatar) is a fictional character, which presents ideal customer of a certain company. Unlike definition of a target segment, which classifies large group of people, customer persona defines one person’s character, values, personal information, challenges and goals. It even goes so far, that this person is given a name and a profile picture, by which an attempt to try to make the person alive is done.”

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/asiakaspersoonat-ja-mit%C3%A4-hy%C3%B6ty%C3%A4-niist%C3%A4-voi-olla-lauri-eskelinen/

 

Customer journey

Challenge during this digital era is, that many do not know when and where the first contact happens. If you do not know where this happens, it is very difficult to provide value to customer on that specific touch point. It can even happen so that customer has already made the purchasing decision even before contact with the company has happened. During this modern age, customers want to search for information about the product or service beforehand and understand what they are buying. For that reason it is important, that companies are acting as trusted advisors who are helping customers to move forward on their journey. Helping works a lot better than pushing also in this case.

 

Customer journey is a journey of all touch points between a company and a customer towards what the customer wants to achieve, and what they are doing to achieve that. It begins from awareness when customer discovers a need, continues by engaging with company and leads to purchasing. These touch point types vary a lot, and are not just contacts with sales, marketing and customer service at the customer interface, there are also many touch points with the systems behind the curtain. Journey does not end at the purchase, instead customer needs to be taken care of also after the transaction. Company has created value propositions before the purchase, but after the purchase company needs to fulfill these promises. Service delivery should be easy and effortless for the customer. Also it is important to understand that for example HR-, logistics- and finance systems affect to how smooth the customer experience is as a whole.

 

One tool called Service Blueprint is helpful in defining customer journey. It can also be used to test new service process prototype. We learned how to use this tool with Katja Tschimmel during the class Design Thinking. With the help of this tool, physical customer journey can be described and below every touch point, customer action is listed. By using this tool, contacts between customer and the company can be reviewed, both direct and contacts happening at the background. Also it is important to list out the required supporting processes and resources like IT. Below you can find a picture about what our group came up with.

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What are important aspects of effective customer journey mapping process?

It is very important, that it includes customer-centric point of view, in which a solution is formed through customer requirements with the objective to solve their needs, instead of creating a new product/service without asking customers if they need it. It is also very important to have support from management and focus on customer insight. Support is required from many different levels of organization, because customer interacts with many different parts of the company. Therefore units, which are working behind the curtain must support the process. And if cooperation and data collection are not taken into account in the early phases of the process, there is a big risk that the process ends up into nice visual exercises which nobody utilizes in practice.

 

Every time new product/service is developed, developers should step into customer’s shoes. By using the tools which design thinking provides, discussion can be limited into what needs to happen so that the idea is applicable. You can always make fancy plans, which seem to work on paper, but when a real customers tests the prototype, some very surprising issues can be discovered. Because of this reason, feedback should be requested as early as possible during the process. There is a risk, that when only looking at your own point of view, you might forget some important aspects, which are important to customers, and which the planned product does not fulfill. At this phase it is a lot easier to make modification, it could be late and very expensive to make those changes when the products is finished. So, remember to request feedback as early as possible and Fail Fast!

 

Some tools, which are good for testing new product or service are Desktop Walkthrough or Role Play. During our classes we were allowed to play with Legos J This relates to Desktop Walkthrough –tool, which is used to outline proposed solution in 3D, which makes it easier to define. After we made our first version, we presented that to other group to receive feedback. With the help of this feedback, we made some modifications and combined two different options into one solution. Some pictures below.

 

Why it is important to understand these concepts?

The customer rarely follows the buying process which the company has independently defined. From the perspective of marketing and sales, it is important so that companies can create value adding content to every touch point of the journey and can help customers move forward. Instead that company trying to raise common interest and reach the entire crowd with one same content. Many times this results into creating content, which does not raise any emotions in anyone.

 

After the customer journeys have been formulated, marketing automation can be utilized in order to deliver content, which provides additional value to customers in every touch point and when they are moving forward on their journey. This is one reason why the background systems need to function. It does not give good image, if value creating content has been created, but interested customer cannot open it. For this reason, cooperation inside the company is very important, so that IT-unit understands the process. Then they can make sure that the systems work as required and by doing that, making the customer journey as easy and effortless as possible.

 

#servicedesign #designthinking #customerjourney #contentmarketing #sales #marketing #latenlorut

Customer experience and healthcare

From time to time you hear people understanding service design as something very strategic or too complicated to be applied for a development project. Purpose of this blog post is to show, applying service design can be practical and especially in healthcare sector, highly recommendable. Last week we organized an ideation workshop in a public hospital in Helsinki Finland in order to improve customer experience during the first 24 hours patients check in. Workshop covered 10 departments and over 50 participants representing hospital employees from nurses and physiotherapists to doctors.

Understand the reality and define the problem you´re solving.

Participants started by getting absorbed in the patient´s experiences collected by student observations. What did the patients feel, think, do, see and hear? Shared emotional understanding of the customer´s experience worked as a starting point for the workshop. In the next phase participants filled an emotional customer experience map, that is a process for discovering, how your customers feel as they experience the service through service touch points. With the help of the emotional customer journey, participants identified the pain points of the service. By identifying the pain points, participants were able to understand the reality and define the problem participants continued to work with.

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From ideation to potential solutions

Continue reading

Dog fur mittens?

tulevaisuus

What does the customer of tomorrow want? I was at the launch of futurist Elina Hiltunen’s new book and petification was the morning’s first consumer trend. Elina identifies and explains 18 consumer trends that can have an impact on you, me and on different businesses through us.

The trends already exist – it’s a question of how well we identify them and can we put them to use in for example developing new services or developing existing ones? Megatrends are the big changes that are already having an impact and have been taken into account in several business fields – population growth, digitalization, longer life expectancy etc. Trends on the other hand are changes of direction in behavior or situations. And weak signals are the first signs of change, the rising phenomen  (Hiltunen, 2017, 56).

The following are the trends that I picked up from Elina.

Changes of direction

Petification – digitalization is here as well. Smart devices are entering the pet industry –  – PetPace helps you observe your pet’s health and TailTalk sensor the feelings of your pet. In USA you can purchase the lazy dogwalker’s Pooper-service – the scooper will take care of picking up the organic waste for you for a price of 15 dollars per month. And you can buy a genetically engineered aquarium fish that glows in the dark as a Xmas present.

Hello Kitty business class on the airplane is all about the trend of  taking care of your inner child and the need to stay young, relaxed and experimental. The soft throwable mike belongs in theis trend as well. The perfect me -trend  includes sharing your own views and opinions with bigger audiences – hate talk is the negative side of this and brave acts the positive one. We are many –trend manifests itself in the  courage to be yourself – being different and non-perfect makes us more interesting.

There’s no typical consumer

Something for everyone – the positive side of this trend is that even a niche segment can be interesting for a company when in global scale. Stereotypes are breaking down  – in her book Elina Hiltunen mentions an interesting example  – the physical change of the barbie for a healthier and more real look. And barbie’s friend sits in a wheelchair.

Also the aspects of getting old are changing – at my hairdresser’s I stumbled across Ari Seth Cohen’s superb book  Advanced Style. Older & wiser – all the models are over 70 with an attitude. Continue reading

Change management- questions, chipmunks, kick offs and major population

In my previous post I dealt with customer experience management and how CEOs and members of the board discussed about it in a seminar called Customer Oriented Strategies which was held on 16th of March 2017 at Aalto University School of Business. I thought that (at least) one of the seminar presentations deserved its own post.

Kenneth Strömsholm the CEO of Veho Oy, gave very interesting and inspiring presentation about customer experience and change management or how he put it in his title: “Managing Customer Experience and Unbearable Toughness of Change”. He highlighted that you can’t talk about these issues separately. They are bonded to each other. While listening to Mr. Strömsholm, I was thinking that we, service designers, are full of enthusiasm for carrying out our design process. We should also give time, thought and tools to support change in organization. Change resistance can make our efforts, to create amazing or just better customer experiences, worthless.

Kenneth Strömsholm have created four very catching and humorously description of the invisible obstacles of change.

Questions

First obstacle is human nature and how most of the people meet the new situation. He explained that the first three questions people are asking when they are confronting the change for the first time:

  • First question: What does this mean for me?
  • Second question: Still what does this mean for me ?
  • Third question: Could there still be some aspect to figure out what does this mean for me?

Mr. Strömsholm pointed out that as a leader, you can’t underestimate the importance of these questions. You need to accept that these are the questions how people are trying to found out their place in a new situation. You need to give them time and try to find answers to these questions together.

Chipmunk -effect

The second inMaaoravavisible obstacle Mr. Strömsholm has named as a Chipmunk –effect. Chipmunks are in their chips with their heads down and no matter how hard you try to yell your brand new message, the message goes over their heads. You need to repeat your message 11 times. Each time there is a chance that one or even few chipmunks have their heads up and they will actually get the message you are sending.

Kick off

The third obstacle Mr. Strömsholm has named Kick off. He explained this obstacle as follows. It takes seven months for board of directors to build a strategy and five minutes for personnel to understand it wrong. He pointed out that as a director, you can’t expect the personnel to walk away from Kick off –meeting, immediately take their saws and go to work according to your new strategy. After Kick off, the work for getting your strategy alive, starts.

Major population

The fourth obstacle Mr. Strömsholm has named Major population. For people, employers, it’s always easy to agree with the major population. Most of the people are skeptical and thinking: “We should not do anything, eventually these directors will calm down and whole thing about change will be forgotten”. As a director you should just carry on and step by step get the major population behind the change. Then there is only minority left against the change, and nobody wants to be part of minority.

Three phases of change and the feeling

Mr. Kuva1Strömsholm summarized three phases of change. First you need to get information, then you can understand and after that you start to believe. Feelings in the organization are effecting the length and strength of each phase.

Very catchy speech, next time when designing services, I will indeed bond customer experience and change more deeply together…and think about chipmunks.