Case study: “The eMarket place experience”

The VISUAL case studies form the basis for assessing and developing the VISUAL language through practical application. The second industry case study in VISUAL was hosted by FINN.no, Norway’s largest digital market place with approximately 3.5 million unique visitors a week.

Through the FINN.no website, individuals and businessesConcurrency can sell or buy products ranging from furniture to motor vehicles, find real estate, look for or offer craftsman services, and more. Most of the exchanges of information between buyers and sellers are supported by self-service platforms.

Kathinka FINN.no

Fredrik FINN.no

The purpose of this case study was to investigate the journey that small companies experience when they try to become corporate customers of FINN.no. “Some of the systems for corporate advertisers are known to be handled manually by sales personnel, involving many instances of phone calls and e-mail exchange with customers”, says Kathinka Fürst Ihlen, Product Manager at FINN.no. “We must develop and redesign this process further and adjust it to fit the other systems in our service”, she adds.

“In the near future, we want to develop a universal system for all the individual self-service systems in our market places”, says Product Director, Fredrik Schjold. A redesign of the resource-demanding journey was the ultimate goal for FINN.no.

Analysis of actual customer journey

With the intent of researching and mapping the current customer journey for new sales in the B2B market, we studied two of FINN.no’s marketplaces: one directed towards selling boats, and the other towards selling miscellaneous items such as electronics, interior, clothing, sports and outdoors equipment, and more.

Two main research activities were carried out: mystery shopping and co-listening sessions. The mystery shopping provided firsthand experience with the customer journey and gave an overview of the touchpoints involved. The co-listening sessions involved observations of phone calls and e-mail exchanges between customers and sales personnel, which resulted in the mapping of 16 unique customer journeys.

The process of becoming a corporate customer of FINN.no normally takes a few days but can often be completed within a couple of hours, depending on the time the customer needs to decide and respond. The scope of the analysis was from the first contact with a potential customer (through the web portal or the call center) to the newly registered customer receiving a confirmatory e-mail, or alternatively ending the process at an earlier stage.

The figure below shows a visualization (“sequential view”) of an actual customer journey in which the potential customer finds information on FINN.no’s webpages and decides to become a customer. The journey includes two phone conversations and an exchange of five e-mails.

 

Sequential

 

We discovered that at times touchpoints would occur while other touchpoints were still in progress. Such an occurrence is illustrated in the figure below (“concurrency notation”), where two e-mails are exchanged during an on-going phone conversation.

 

Concurrency

Visualizing such concurrent activities is useful in building a detailed mapping of the timing of touchpoints. It provides an opportunity to review organizational procedures and can be applied to redesign of the journey, particularly in structuring the information exchange and the formalities associated with the sales process.

Feedback and lessons learnt

We presented results from the case study to FINN.no, and gathered feedback on the visual language through workshops and e-mails sent out to their employees working with customer journey.

In general, FINN.no employees found the visualizations easy to understand and the symbols to be intuitive and easily recognizable. It was, however, pointed out that persons with limited knowledge about service design and the symbolism used in VISUAL could have difficulty understanding the visualizations, and that use of the language would require a brief introduction to the visual elements involved.

FINN.no has distributed the VISUAL toolbox (terminology, symbols, and diagrams) internally across different departments and teams at an early stage. They view the language as a potential platform for cross-departmental communication around service design, and the have used it to redesign services, for conceptualization and drafting of customer journeys, and for scenario generation. When redesigning customer journeys, an expressed difficulty in using the language was to distinguish between the journey of the seller of a product (not to be confused with FINN.no’s own sales personnel) and the buyer, who both are users of FINN.no. “With this in mind, we now in the second version of the language have introduced a new diagram type with swim lanes for all the actors involved, while retaining the details of the touchpoints and actions. This makes it easier to differentiate the actors involved in the customer journey and also their experiences”, says Ida Maria Haugstveit, responsible for the FINN.no case study.

In the future, FINN.no sees VISUAL as a means to increase its internal awareness of customers’ end-to-end experiences with the company, and to ease communication across departments. “Different departments often have ownership to different customer journeys, and I think VISUAL will make it easier for us to see the total picture from a customer’s point of view”, Kathinka Fürst Ihlen concludes.

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The VISUAL project
Project leader:
Ragnhild Halvorsrud, SINTEF ICT
E-mail: ragnhild.halvorsrud <at> sintef.no

Project owner:
Lasse Pedersen, Halogen
E-mail: lasse.pedersen <at> halogen.no

Funding:
The project is an innovation project supported by the Research Council of Norway.

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