Lately, we’ve been helping more and more of our clients design smart products in the industrial and commercial space. The terms ‘Connected Devices’ and ‘Internet of Things (IoT)‘ may sound like industry buzzwords at the moment, but with solid ideas and strong design guidance from the outset the opportunities are real.
Since 2012, we’ve been working with Ireland’s largest independent energy provider, SSE Airtricity, to help them serve their domestic and business customers more effectively and more efficiently.
We are working with SSE Airtricity to help them attract new – and retain existing – customers in one of Europe’s most competitive domestic and business energy markets.
Ireland’s domestic energy market is the most competitive in Europe. In the domestic market alone, thousands of Irish households switch electricity and gas suppliers each year. In this hyper-competitive market SSE Airtricity realised that, to outpace the competition, they must have the most customer-focused digital services.
The user-centric approach has had a major in uence on how we now design any business solution that a ects our customers.
Electricity and gas are invisible products – we use them but never see them. And we only notice them when they stop working. Energy providers can’t compete on the quality of their produce, but they can compete on price, and the quality of their service.
We began our partnership with SSE Airtricity with in-depth research into their current customers’, and potential customers’ requirements and expectations.
To do this we initiated an intensive programme of stakeholder, customer, and call centre research activities. Our researchers supported these with extensive user surveys, website analytics reviews, and programme of design workshops.
From this research we identified three areas for strategic design,
Sign-up and onboarding
Self-service has many benefits for companies and their customers, but many organisations fail to properly consider their self-service proposition. Customers may want more control over the services they use, but too much control renders self-service options unusable for the general public.
The central problem here is that many companies approach self-service from the inside out – they ask themselves ‘What services is can we offload on the customer?’ rather than ask themselves ‘What services do our customers want access to?’.
Working with SSE Airtricity we approached their self-service proposition with the latter question in mind. Together we reviewed the services that SSE Airtricity could provide their customers, and designed for the ones that customers most wanted or needed.
First impressions matter, and when they matter most when you’re working to convert potential customers into paying customers. As the lynchpin for new business the sign-up process must be clear and easy to use.
We rebuilt the sign-up/switch process around customers’ typical behaviour – we found that many people started their switch application in work but couldn’t complete it unless they had access to their meters’ unique identifier numbers.
So, we designed a process that allowed customers to pause their switch applications. They could pick up where they left off once they got access to these required numbers. To encourage customers to finish their applications we triggered timely email reminders when they’re likely to be at home. As an added benefit, customers could start switching on a PC, and finish their application on their mobile.
A common misconception about mobile devices is that they’re almost exclusively used ‘on the go’. This isn’t so; for many people their smartphone is their primary, and even only, Internet device. This means they’re as likely to use it at how or out of the office.
SSE Airtricity’s site was reaching a tipping point – its mobile user-base was growing faster than expected, and these customers wanted access to the same online services. So we worked with SSE Airtricity’s team to redesign how the site should work for customers who use mobile devices or PCs, or both.
Mobilisation isn’t just a process of creating a design that can expand and contract to fit different screen sizes. Mobilisation requires a complete review of how the site communicates its core messages to the user – without doing this, responsive sites can overwhelm the customer. Truly successful responsive sites know which business messages to promote on specific screen sizes. Working with SSE Airtricity we helped redesign their site and their messaging so their customer were shown the most impactful information at the right time.
We’re continuing to work with SSE Airtricity to solve similar business challenges with their team.
NPS score for SSE Airtricity’s self-service option is X up from Y
Online sign-ups increased X% following the release of their customer-focused sign-up form.
Mobile traffic has increased X% since the responsive site went live
Key to the success of this work is the close relationship between SSE Airtricity and Each&Other teams. We have a dedicated team of researchers and designers on-site with SSE Airtricity working with their business managers to define and plan future work, while maintaining the quality of existing work and responding to customer and client feedback.