case study service design

Service Design

How might we improve (broken) touchpoints between Mobisol and its customers from first interest till end-of-use?

Remark: I led Mobisol’s service design unit and worked on multiple topics over the years. By contrast with the work of agencies, in-house service design is harder to cut up in confined projects. For the sake of storytelling, I condensed in retrospective one case study from the continuous flow of pro- and reactive research and development activities.

Starting Point:

We had researched, developed and set up the ideal customer journey years ago, and our 15 Steps to Become a Mobisol Customer illustration was used for training, sales and customer care likewise. The goal of this project was to follow up on issues raised by customer care and give the journey a reality check.

Step 1: Listen in

Mobisol had five customer-facing departments on the ground (marketing, sales, technical installation, customer care, customer finance) and each had team meetings of their own. I joined them all, to listen in and use the end of the meeting to ask deeper into what is bugging them or the customers they interact with.

Step 2: Observe

Elyas and me hung out for hours at different sales outlets, and the extroverted marketing guys took us to events nearby. I had lunch with technicians and asked them to join them for their next system installation. And I escorted the customer finance team on their quest to get customers with delayed payments back on track. Observing day to day activities also uncovered many hacks that staff use to bypass useless touchpoints or create some that served them better. And for a change, I was glad about the traffic jams on our way back, as it gave us lots of time in the privacy of the car to probe deeper into underlying issues.

Step 3: Probe customers

I had spent some time in Tanzanian living-rooms during pilot phase, and knew how social distance and language barriers may make conversations tough. So in order to get honest vibes from customers, I created a set of so-called cultural probes. In essence, these kits contain a diary with writing prompts, a disposable camera with suggestions what to capture and pens and other small gadgets that make the kit appealing and encourages its use. Pili and me handed these outs at point-of-sale to customers that fell into different categories and let them document a week on their own. Then we visited them and talked.

In addition to these probes, a peer PhD candidate from my research program was investigating mental models of people, who were yet deciding whether to turn to using solar PV or not. Kathrin’s in-depth qualitative interviews were a potent source and especially helped to shed light on the decision-making process leading (or diverting) from Mobisol before purchase.

Step 4: Co-creating an honest customer journey map

The time had come to play back the observations made. We wanted to validate our hypotheses, collect feedback and ideas for improvement. For this, Elyas and me lured representatives of each department into one meeting to discuss together. Through these cocreative sessions, we were able to go beyond the automatism of blaming the other department and connect the dots between issues arising in different moments of the journey. By then, we had established enough trust among us, that the fields staff were honestly sharing issues and ideas for adjustments, often drawing on past experience with other players in the market.

Step 5: Ideation & prototyping new concepts

To further build on the feedback from the field, we concluded the project by gathering all out-of-the-box power within Mobisol.

At that time, we had 3 freelance designers on board (product & packaging, branding and mobile UX) and as they weren’t professionally blinkered like the rest of us, these creative sessions helped a lot to ideate and quickly prototype new touchpoints. With our local team, we managed to test these right away.

Step 6: Creating deliverables

We finished with three types of results. In the process, we gathered a whole list of actions that could be improved right away, These were our low-hanging fruits for immediate relief, that also helped argue for more immersive and co-creative sessions like this.

We also created two reports that were circulated internally to help staff take in the bigger picture and promote empathy among different departments.

And to tackle the bigger issues we uncovered, we formulated a strategy slide deck and used it for discussions with the C-level as a whole.

If these activities resonated with you, reach out for some hands-on service design support on your project.