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Reducing Cost

Overview

I worked with the commercial division of British Gas on a service design project aimed at using digital to reduce the cost to serve their customers. This was the first project I worked with British Gas on before moving on to globalising patters and scaling design for their parent company (Centrica). This case study is broken into four sections:

  • Problem
  • Treatments
  • Learnings
  • Outcome

You will also find some working photos and client feedback at the end. While working on this project I held the title “Principal Designer” with the responsibility of leading design strategy, planning and output.

 


 

Problem

British Gas Business had a huge number of customers, but due to the cost of serving them the business was struggling to remain profitable. As the product offering evolved they acquired a lot of small business customers.  These small businesses offered slim profit margins but were transacting in the same way as large enterprise customers. While they had some online servicing tools, the maturity of their digital organisation was low. I joined to explore how best to position their digital offering and grow the function sustainably.

 


 

Treatments

Improve Registration
Make benefits of registering clearer, offer incentives to select groups, increase number of entry points and reduce experience friction.

BG Registration

 

Improve Security
We reduced registration friction while improving security by serving dynamic questioning. This supported increased registration numbers while limiting the number of fraudulent registrations by energy brokers.

Registration Journey Security Steps

 

Enable Guest Transactions
We enabled customers to complete tasks (such as making a payment) without creating an account first. We also leveraged the fact that completing these tasks clears registration authentication to encourage account creation.

Payment

 

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 replatformed the site on to a central content management system. This enabled us to control work flows (limiting rework) and make edits in-house (limited agency spend).

Site Map

 

Reform Team Structure
We gained a lot of insight about what our customers wanted while restructuring the site which caused team responsibilities to become ambiguous. In light of this, we undertook and organisational redesign to align to the primary customer experience. We also took the opportunity to improve the ways of working and implement agile practices.

Team

 

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.

Help Test

 

Improve Agent Servicing Tools
Further to centralising support tools so agents used the same content as customers, we also improved their tooling. The tooling allowed agents to serve more customers, better and faster. A core feature of this was the ability to “impersonate” the customer and screen share to help educate and encourage self-service.

Agent Screens

 

Improve Sales Efficiency
Sales relied on aggressive marketing to generate call leads. We first enabled an online sign up process to enable those looking for it to sign up without calling (a need we verified with small business owners). We then we progressively modified sales funnels to divert more willing customers down the self-service path. Throughout this process we heavily optimised marketing materials and processes to significantly reduce spend on adverts and third-party lead chasing.

Energy Sales

 

Improve knowledge
Prior to starting the project and at most step throughout we conducted a lot of research e.g. building personas and identifying the type of customer to build digital services. We captured this knowledge into a central repository and made it available to everyone. We also built tools and defined methodologies that allowed people to leverage, adapt and verify what had been done.

Sprint Results

 

Build Design and Research Team
Throughout this process we built and scales an in-house design and research function. While we initially used contractors, when we went through the organisational redesign the roles were formalised based on the value they had added. Beyond this project we went on to scale the team across the sister organisations and parent company. You can read more about how we did this in scaling design.

Design System Team

 


 

Learnings

Focus on the right customers.
Building tools for low value customers makes them valuable.

  • 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 dividend
  • Breaking role stereotypes e.g. designers, is challenging
  • Digital best serves high volume segments
  • Large customers expect more tailored support

 


Outcome

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%

 


 

Working Photos

 

“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 “

 


 

Related Projects
Globalising Patterns
Scaling Design

Client
British Gas

Sector
Utilities

Status
Complete (2017)

Client
British Gas

Sector
Utilities

Status
Complete (2017)

Centralising Services /
Bryn

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