Working within the commercial division of British Gas, I was responsible for delivering a service design project with a focus on using digital solutions to reduce cost. My role was to determine how to optimise their digital offering and grow the functionality sustainably. This involved increasing the utilisation of self-service options, creating a centralised set of tools used by both the customer and agents, and developing a design and research team.
“Focused on the user but very considerate of what makes businesses work. Strong commercial and operational acumen. Happy to operate at all levels of the business and always a pleasure to work with “
British Gas Business benefited from a huge number of customers, but was struggling to remain profitable due to the spiralling costs of customer service. This was further compounded by an ever-evolving product offering that resulted in the acquisition of lots of small business customers. These small businesses provided slim profit margins, but were using the same transactions as large corporate businesses. While British Gas has some online servicing tools, the maturity of their digital organisation was low.
Make benefits of registering clearer, offer incentives to select groups, increase number of entry points and reduce experience friction.
We were able to both address registration friction and improve security by serving dynamic questioning. This had the effect of supporting increasing registration numbers, while limiting the number of fraudulent registrations by energy brokers.
Enable Guest Transactions
We introduced guest transactions, allowing customers to complete tasks (such as making a payment) without creating an account. We were then able to capitalise on the fact that completing these tasks clears registration authentication in order to encourage account creation.
Reform Site Structure
We radically overhauled the information architecture of the site to align to customer expectations, improve findability, and improve search engine optimisation. We also re-platformed the site onto a central content management system (CMS), which allowed us to control work flows (reducing the need for rework) and make edits in-house (reducing agency spend).
Reform Team Structure
We discovered that team responsibilities had become ambiguous, and we carried out organisational restructuring to improve this. We also took the opportunity to improve ways of working and implement agile practices.
Build Self-Serve Support
Customer support was a huge overhead with a large proportion of calls, chats, and emails being related to a handful of simple tasks. To address these, we built a comprehensive, centralised, self-serve support centre and funnelled all contact through it. We unified information sources between customers and employees to begin leveraging group knowledge. Agent scripts were modified to encourage self-service and agents were empowered to update content.
Improve Agent Servicing Tools
Further to centralising support tools, so both customer and agent used the same tools, we also improved agent-specific tools. The purpose of these tools was to allow agents to serve more customers more quickly and effectively. A core feature was the ability to “impersonate” the customer and utilise screen sharing functionality to educate and encourage customer self-service.
Improve Sales Efficiency
Small business owners helped us identify and verify a need for an online sign-up process to allow customers to circumnavigate the need to call British Gas. We then progressively modified sales funnels to divert more willing customers down the self-service path, relying on heavily optimised marketing materials to significantly reduce spend on adverts and third-party lead chasing.
We carried out a considerable amount of research, including building personas and identifying customer types, in order to build the appropriate digital services. This knowledge was captured and stored in a central repository that was accessible to everyone, and then we built tools and defined methodologies that allowed others to leverage, adapt, and verify what we had done.
Build Design and Research Team
Part of the purpose of this project was to understand the roles and organisation’s resource requirements in order to develop and scale up the team. Beyond this project, this team was scaled up across sister organisations and the parent company (Centrica). You can read more about this in the case study on Scaling Design.
Focus on the high volume, low value customers.
Building tools that solve the needs of many so you can focus on the few.
- Centralising knowledge improves efficiency and satisfaction.
- Making people more efficient trumps reducing headcount.
- Communication from senior leaders is key.
- A strong foundation of tools and rules pays dividends.
- Breaking role stereotypes is challenging.
- Digital best serves high volume segments.
- Corporate customers expect more tailored support.
Spend reduced by over 50%.
Increases to conversion rate and customer satisfaction.
- Registration increased from 19% to 41%.
- Registration fraud reduced to under 1%.
- Conversion rate improved by 4%.
- Contact from site reduced by 59%.
- Organic traffic increased by 14%.
- Cycle time reduced by 44%.