Service application

Frameworks, techniques & tools used:
End-to-end app deliveryAgileStakeholders managementCS collaborationResearchUser testingWireframesPrototypingSketchFlinto


My role:
Leading Design for the project, Senior Digital Designer

Being part of the Virgin Media Digital team, I joined a small scrum team that was tasked to design and develop the Virgin Media Account App. End-to-end.
At that point, Virgin Media UK didn’t have a strong strategy with regards to apps, still focusing more on web and tv platforms. We had to deliver this app from scratch, but to our benefit, there was already a significant amount of field research and a pilot app usability test had already been undertaken.

Problem:

How might we create a Virgin Media Account app that will easily let users understand their tv, broadband and phone package, pay bills and self-service any problems they may have with the account.
From a business point of view, the goal was primarily to reduce customer service calls and costs and therefore reduce customer attrition.

UX Approach:

The first step for the team was to go through research, understand where the biggest pain points were, and also align with business on any technological limitations. It helped us learn what could be our MVP and where we will need to advocate for technology or mindset change to meet user needs.

Based on the research we decided to focus on the two most significant pain points: providing the ability to understand, control and pay the bill, and offer any self-service help users may need when they have service issues.

We encountered challenges, such as which functionalities could be available pre and after login, a very outdated data system behind the billing data and use of very dry and technical language to inform users about problems. Some of these issues we could easily fix, some required more fundamental backend changes. Part of the role was mapping out all dependencies, negotiating and educating the business and pushing for a better solution in areas where we could influence the approach.

Brand infusion and managing users expectations

After going through initial user research, we learned that one of the repeating bits of feedback we received was how dull and uninviting our pilot app was. Virgin Media is known as a fun and engaging brand, but none of it was represented in the pilot app. We recognised this. A service app should primarily serve its purpose of accessing the account, but in our pilot app, it was particularly dry and hard to read. We thought this was a fantastic opportunity to really push for excellence and ensure we bring the Virgin Media look and feel to the app.

We started from onboarding, login and "home" screen flow as this was something users saw first. It is where we could infuse the Virgin Media brand and make the experience a bit more bright and playful. It also helped us manage users expectations about what they can do in the app.

How to bring a negative message in a positive way?

The most common reason people download and use Account apps is when their service is broken. Most people don't like to call customer service and hang on a phone line for a long time. Ideally, they prefer to learn about the issue and solve it online. It was necessary, though, to understand people's mindsets when they were coming to our app. They were coming, usually already angry. One of the tasks we gave ourselves was to manage user discomfort and help solve their problem without having to further escalate the issue.

We came up with the idea to overcome this problem with transparency and relevant tone of voice infused with the Virgin Media playful brand. One business metric we wanted to influence was the number of customer calls to customer service. We realised that some of these calls could be easily avoided if we provided accurate and transparent information about the source of the problem. In many instances, users encountered issues with their service due to maintenance work in their area. There was nothing customer service could do for them other than inform the customer about these works with an estimated finishing time.

We decided to provide this type of information upfront of the flow. This way we at least limit the number of unnecessary calls and also manage people's expectations a bit better. We took the linear approach to this problem - first establish if there are no maintenance roadworks, second - self-service your modem and internal connection, and lastly as a last resort - provide appropriate contact methods to customer service.

Development

Account app was created on both iOS and Android platforms. Part of the process was aligning with dev team sprint planning and making sure we developed this product in a scalable way but keeping in mind platform-specific differences. My role was educating and influencing the development team about what we wanted to achieve and any limitations we may encounter.

Celebrating success

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