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Voice of the Customer: My TELUS’ design thinking approach to customer problem solving

Content & Design · Apr 3, 2019

At TELUS Digital, we operate in a scaled agile framework, using design thinking principles as our modus operandi. Our tribes and squads sit together and have one common “North Star.” They have all the skills and tools needed to design, develop, test and release to production. They are autonomous, self-organising teams and experts in their product

“My TELUS” is the tribe within Digital that owns TELUS’ self-serve platforms and is responsible for enabling simple and easy experiences for our customers to manage their accounts, products and services. From viewing and paying their bills, upgrading their services, or making a change, customers can easily do what they need to in the comfort of their homes or on the go. 

We define - and are driven by - “customer-centric” metrics, that keep us honest, and represent a philosophy engraved in everything that we do: to make things easy for our customers and team members.

The customer satisfaction score: how good are we at what we do?

“Web Rating” is a digital-specific metric that ladders up to a strategic KPI on our Enterprise Scorecards: L2R (Likelihood to Recommend). This is how we know what kind of a job we are doing, from a customer’s perspective. We use a mix of tools and processes to understand how customers perceive our platform and help us identify customer problems and pain points.

Our mission is to keep our T2B (“top-two-box”, or “positive”) ratings up, by controlling and keeping our B2B (“bottom-two-box”, or “negative”) ratings down. In plain English, we focus on identifying, validating and fixing those pain points that customers take the time to share with us, and by doing this, we ensure that our number of satisfied customers stays above our self-imposed quality thresholds.

How do we do this?

Applying a design thinking approach to problem-solving, within our digital delivery model

For those new to the topic, design thinking is a methodology for finding the best solution to a complicated problem. The customer is always placed at the centre of the conversation.

There are 5 steps to the design thinking process:

  1. Empathize with the customer. Understand who the customer is (define persona) then walk a mile in their shoes to better understand the problem that is required to be solved. 

  2. Clearly define the problem. A problem statement often helps so that the problem is stated in a human-centric way.

  3. Generate ideas through brainstorming and collaboration between journey owners, subject matter experts and stakeholders 

  4. Use proof of concepts to understand how consumers will feel, behave and thinkwhen handling the product. When building an iteration or fix, checking in with friendlies and customers is key to validating the approach as-you-go.

  5. Test & Measure before and after the solution is promoted into Production, making sure that the data confirms the effectiveness of the fix or iteration.

The diagram above shows how we collect feedback via website or other channels, use UX tools like Qualtrics and Decibel to articulate the gaps and validate our understanding of the customer problem, then convert opportunities into backlog items that our squads then prioritize and deliver. My TELUS tribe uses their agile ceremonies to socialize our findings with both our internal and external peers and continuously track all customer problems in a Kanban board, in the spirit of complete transparency and efficiency (example below).

A real-life example on how we identify and solve customer problems via Voice of Customer?

“No matter what I do, I can’t seem to figure out how to download my bill. Fix your site!!” - Customer verbatim

Based on the feedback, it’s unclear what the nature of the issue is. Is it a UX problem (i.e.: the customer can’t find the PDF bill download link within the Billing page)? Or is it a functional problem (i.e.: the customer finds the link, but clicking on it doesn’t produce the expected outcome)?

So our team needed to do a little digging to understand the root of the problem.

Understanding who the customer is, and “walking a mile in their shoes” 

Our feedback collection platform, Qualtrics, captures a bunch of interesting information at the time of comment submission: 

  • Current web page where the customer submitted feedback from 

  • Previous page 

  • UUID - or Universal Unique Customer Identifier, a binary-encoded way of identifying the customer without exposing or storing PII (personally identifiable information) 

  • Whether they use a desktop computer or a mobile device

  • What browser type & version they’re using 

  • What operating system runs on their computer 

We use all of these pieces of information to narrow down the type of customer and help define a persona.

We don’t use Qualtrics by itself, but in tandem with Decibel, a digital experience intelligence platform, that records the customer’s interaction with the site, and plays it back on demand. All customer Personally Identifiable Info is hidden at all times on these recordings and never stored, but the customer’s journey, hovering, scrolling and clicking, helps greatly with understanding their challenges in fulfilling their mission.

By using this set of tools, we’ve been able to identify the customer as a “business mobility customer”, with “100+ subscribers on their profile” which uses a “Windows machine” and the “Chrome v.46.0.2490 browser”, amongst other characteristics. Based on the recording, we’ve confirmed that our customer was able to find the PDF Bill Download link, but upon clicking on it, nothing happened. After a few seconds, our customer attempted to click again, with the same result. And again, and again.

Clearly defining the problem

After connecting all the dots and carefully considering all available information, the team decided that this is both a functional and a UX opportunity. It is functional because the system seems to take an unreasonable amount of time to generate a “large bill”, which is what we call a bill with more than 100 subscribers. It is also a UX opportunity because if this task will take a while, the customer’s expectation needs to be managed accordingly. We would not want the customer to try and click, again and again, just to experience the same result and have their frustration escalate.

Brainstorming ideas

The team started to think about ways of alleviating this customer problem, looking at it from both a business and an IT perspective, and decided to make a few functional changes in the way the bill is generated and cached at the services level, but also to implement a small copy change in the UI, stating something around the lines “your bill is large, and it will take a bit of time to be generated. You can either wait, or even browse around, and come back in a few minutes when the process is completed”

Using prototypes

The proposed solution was taken through guerilla testing with non-biased team members from different departments, and pedestrians who were passing through our lobby at 25 York St in Toronto. The results were very encouraging, so aside from a few minor copy changes, we had a solid fix to our customer problems.

Testing and measuring

Upon pushing this fix live, the complaints related to large bill download latencies decreased to a point where they don’t represent a concern any longer. 

What we learned

Continuously optimizing & simplifying our online journeys is key for driving conversion and loyalty.

Some interesting facts about the VoC process at My TELUS:

  • My TELUS receives ~ 70,000 customer feedback entries every year, exclusively through the website. There are additional entries being collected via other channels (call centres, stores, dealerships, social media, etc)

  • We isolate around 10,000 feedback entries/year, representing actionable customer complaints, and use a combination of machine learning models and careful reviews of verbatim and recordings, to properly categorize the customer problems by journey.

  • We have five squads under My TELUS, each owning one or more customer journeys. Each squad takes ownership of the customer problem that falls under their respective scope and works relentlessly on fixing the bugs or addressing UX opportunities as they surface.

My TELUS finished 2018 with a positive web rating of 72%, highest across TELUS Digital. We are using this as a healthy internal competition amongst our tribes, to motivate ourselves, maintain excitement, and continuously push ourselves towards providing the best-in-class customer experience, which is what differentiates TELUS from its competitors.

If you’re interested in exploring opportunities within TELUS Digital, check out our website! We are hiring for Full Stack Developers, Visual/Interaction Designers, Automation Testers, Product Owners, Digital Analytics & Insights Consultants, Implementation Consultants and more!

Authored by:
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Emil Barbon
Senior Product Manager
Emil Barbon is a Senior Product Manager at TELUS Digital