Design as the ideal service

Design as the ideal service

Robin Clements about the source of problems ánd solutions

Helping customers as well as you can. The essence of every company, right? Wrong! The ultimate service goes far beyond that: ‘no service needed’. Which means that the essence of a company should be about perfecting its products and services for customers to the extent that everything simply works as the customer may expect them to. And that starts with incontestable design. The ultimate pitfall: setting up optimal service for a mediocre product.

You all know the good examples. How often have you called Apple, Google or Sonos for help during the installation or use of their products? Not very often. 'Service prevention’ is actually the goal of their product development. Or at least the consequence of good design. Could this also work for a company like VodafoneZiggo? With unswerving confidence I say, absolutely. And I see it as my mission to make this happen. What we need to do? Start at the beginning and I mean that as literally as possible. Go back to the drawing table.

All or nothing
You can never be too fanatical when it comes to design. I believe it is the key to eliminate problems, simply by making sure they will never arise. I’m not alone in this. Design Thinking is all the rage nowadays. In this process you pay an extreme amount of attention to the problem before you arrive at a wide range of solutions. Personally, I believe that many companies keep this range too wide, without making firm choices. My belief: not more, but fewer options force you to come up with brilliant plans. Creativity comes with constraint. Only if you eliminate as many options as possible, does real creativity emerge.

At VodafoneZiggo we provide customers with plenty of service options. Like call centres and servicemen, for example. Using them only seems logical, right? That’s exactly the way lots of people think: “We have the means to help customers, let’s use them!” Or: “Isn’t it customer-friendly to offer help?” Of course. But it’s even customer-friendlier to ensure no help is needed at all.

Robin Clements VodafoneZiggo

An attempt to write a manual for, let’s say, an iPhone, would result in a phone book with thousands of pages. And should you decide to send servicemen to install the phones you would need more than a few hundred thousand of them. Apple put so much effort into the design, that no additional help or manual is needed. The product is so well thought-out that everyone can operate it intuitively. From grandparents that are oblivious of technology to toddlers who effortlessly swipe to a game on daddy’s phone.

That good design does not come naturally, is demonstrated by the Norman Doors video on YouTube. Most doors in the video have a downright horrid design. You simply have no idea whether to pull or to push. You need an instruction to operate the doors. That is, of course, ridiculous for something as simple as a door. Don Norman became aware of this phenomenon and specialised in designing doors and fittings that you instantly understand. So logical, but ingenious at the same time.

Think through
At VodafoneZiggo we are doing things better and better for our customers, more and more often. The new look and feel, for example, of the video platform in the Mediabox Next. The menu offers loads of options, but is still easy and very intuitive to navigate. First-rate. The interface of Ziggo GO is also very high-quality. Both successes are the result of lots and lots of brainwork, testing and customer feedback. However, in many areas we are not yet where we want to be, still sending ‘installation manuals’ to a customer, assuming that - should the customer really need assistance – the serviceman or the call centre agent will come to the rescue. That is still too far away from a ‘mobile first’ designed ‘do it yourself’ experience for the customer in which everything works smoothly. Therefore, this message is especially important to everyone involved in designing new products or processes. They have the real influence.

The first reaction can be sceptical: “Lots of customers simply want an instruction manual. Why should we take that away from them?” Sure, there are still customers that like to receive a manual. But a helpdesk employee doesn’t know what a customer is doing when he is reading such a manual. It’s a purely analogue tool that doesn’t generate data. What is the customer looking at? How can an employee help? When you make tools digital, you are able to provide a much better service. In this way, something that may seem customer-unfriendly – taking away that manual – suddenly does become customer-friendly.

Producing diamonds
More, and more thorough thinking at the start of a development. That’s the point. Not going the obvious way, but really giving all it is worth. When a product is ninety-five percent good, we’re often well-satisfied. A nine and a half! But we’re playing major league here. The real difference in quality is noticeable in those last few percent, milliseconds or ingenious details. So, let’s take that extra bit of time to think it through. Go for the photo finish. Produce diamonds of the highest quality. If everyone keeps that top of mind, we will evolve from a good company into a great company. Design for quality.

Robin Clements
The customer service domain is innovating at high speed. As the Executive Director Customer Operations Robin Clements brings out the best in people and technology, pushing the boundaries of customer service at VodafoneZiggo.