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Intelligent data gathering

The DBA’s Adam Fennelow looks at the impressive results that can be achieved through intelligent and effective gathering of customer and colleague insight.

An article on caught my eye last week. Entitled ‘Beware feedback fatigue’, it looks into the ‘epidemic of feedback requests’ and how generic questions producing generic answers can do more harm than good to the customer experience and the business. It also talks about how many businesses overlook the true potential of gathering in-depth internal company feedback, and are failing to ask the people who are closest to the issues – the staff – for their insights.

The antithesis of this is that each year amongst the DBA Design Effectiveness Award entries we read many diverse examples where intelligent gathering of customer and staff feedback – and the effective acting on of this – has been key to shaping projects and delivering incredibly impactful results through design. After all, at the heart of design’s effectiveness to positively impact on business, services and people’s lives, is its ability to put the customer or citizen at the centre of the whole process.

With the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards Call for Entries underway (download your entry pack here) I thought I’d share brief details of two previous winning examples whose robust and effective gathering of customer and colleague insight has informed the design process, and produced some very impressive results.

YPO: Public Value Champions

ypo-thompson-brand-partnersFor Thompson Brand Partners, extensive stakeholder research with colleagues, key customers, potential customers, local authorities and industry figures was an integral part of the process in identifying the pillar stones that underpin their rebrand of the Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation. The research helped to identify that the business needed to focus less on education, and instead on raising the profile of other supplies and services, if it wanted to meet its ambitious three-year business strategy to become the UK’s number one public sector buying organisation. The biggest learning was that the business had an opportunity to raise its profile and inject more sophistication into its brand. In doing this, it could start to build a flag that its team could stand behind, tackling years of internal apathy.

By sitting in on colleague calls with customers, Thompson also found that with a range of names – Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation, Yorkshire Purchasing and YPO – all being used regularly by staff, clarity was definitely required. They recommended renaming simply as YPO, to create a more modern, sophisticated, national brand, and backed this up with customer research confirming this would be accepted and understood.

Having put the foundations in place to develop what the brand was all about and the name, the next step was to develop the identity – one that was confident, proud, brave and led by example. The roll out of this was an undoubted success.

YPO associate members leapt exponentially by 384% in 4 years from 13 to 63 and 57 new jobs were created at the business. YPO has since increased dividends paid to the public sector by 27.3% and is saving councils £2.5 million a year. And with engagement levels amongst the workforce jumping from 38% to 60%, productivity in the operations team leapt up, and time lost through staff sickness was slashed by 50%. The company even secured 61st place in The Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For (not-for-profit) and achieved a ranking of 90% in the UK Customer Service Satisfaction Index.

You can read YPO and Thompson Brand Partners’ DBA Design Effectiveness Award winning case study in full here. 

Dubai Airports Hospitality Programme

engine_da_staff_trainingEngine Service Design and Dubai Airports’ (DA) collaboration saw Engine Director James Samperi becoming Head of Customer Experience at Dubai Airports for six months.

Dubai Airports has grown from a desert landing strip to the world’s 2nd busiest international airport in a little more than fifty years, even though it operates only two runways. It used to be just airlines competing for passengers, but now airports compete too – some 70% of passengers have a choice of which hub they fly through. Dubai Airports’ infrastructure operates at near capacity so they needed to look beyond this and grow by putting customer service at the heart of the business, to help make Dubai a highly desirable destination for travellers worldwide and make DA the international hub of choice.

Engine initially worked with the senior team and partners to DA to establish a project brief that identified where efforts needed to focus to deliver ambitious targets. Across two days, over one hundred business leaders were engaged to connect where DA was today, to a vision of where it wanted to be tomorrow, declaring its intent to become a customer-centric organisation.

A service design approach meant that both parties worked together in a highly collaborative way, to the extent of Engine’s James Samperi’s secondment into DA for six months as Head of Customer Experience. And the implemented solutions were informed by clear strategy and service propositions, which were informed by customer and staff insights.

Rather than develop a series of discrete initiatives, Engine worked with DA to lead a more holistic approach and designed a blended service solution that included: defining a behavioural service style, training frontline staff, operational and environmental planning, digital tools and enablers, new ways of providing information and new ways to approaching way-finding.

Ultimately the new zonal ways of working increased the efficiency of the operation when working 24/7; resource could be better planned and allocated to handle the daily peaks and troughs of passenger footfall. And the impact has been widespread both in terms of improved commercial and customer perceptions.

There are higher levels of availability of frontline staff, higher levels of engagement between staff and passengers, and customer awareness of the commercial offering has increased leading to higher spend in food and beverage and in retail. There are also fewer questions of staff members following signage improvements, allowing staff to focus on their work.

You can read Dubai Airports and Engine Service Design’s DBA Design Effectiveness Award winning case study in full here. 

Design Effectiveness AwardsIf you have a project that you think could be a contender to win a DBA Design Effectiveness Award, download the entry pack and get started on your entry today.

 The entry deadline is Friday 30 November at 5pm GMT and there’s range of support available from the DBA to assist you with preparing your submission. Read about it here.


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