Raphael Alex de Sousa
Author - Raphael Alex de Sousa

Service design and agile practices are leading approaches to create and deliver value. Here, we present a successful case where both approaches accelerated the implementation of new service experiences, supported nation-wide scalability and created a new organisational culture.

This article is part of Touchpoint Vol. 11 No. 3 - Service Design and Change Management. Discover the full list of articles of this Touchpoint issue to get a sneak peek at more fascinating articles! Touchpoint is available to purchase in print and PDF format.

Service design has started to go mainstream. Organisations in all sectors are developing the discipline internally to permeate their current initiatives. Organisational objectives include remaining relevant in the digital era, keeping on track with evolving customer behaviours in a continuous, fast-changing society, and anticipating potential new competitors that are not necessarily in the same industry.

As a consequence of the organisational need to be more agile and adaptable, service design is facing some challenges in terms of implementation: How to accelerate the time to market of its interventions? How to scale? And how to support a permanent transformation? In contrast, agile methods tackle problems in a fast, lean and flexible way.According to the 13th Annual State of Agile survey1, 63 percent of respondents consider delivery speed and time to market to be the real benefits of the adoption of agile.

In 2019, we teamed up with the leader in retail commerce in South America, which has more than 2,600 stores across the continent. In Colombia, the company used to operate stores with a non-standardised sales and operating model, which led to diminished in-store customer experiences, operational inefficiencies and growth rates beneath expectations. Our challenge was to design an internal sales enforcement programme that could enhance the customer experience and increase sales.

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Focus and alignment

To understand the challenge in-depth and define an interesting scope, we started the project by gathering as much information as possible that was available regarding the programme axes: people, processes, tools and communications, and by visiting stores as researchers and mystery shoppers. We used in-the-field research methods (shadowing, guerrilla interviews and participative observation) to map the in-store customer experience and understand the processes that impact the experience. The purpose was to identify the exchange of value between people in the sales process.

It was a complex task to align expectations and motivations from different departments around a common focus. To tackle this, we focused on objectives that all stakeholders must consider important, such as helping employees give effective feedback and enhancing communication. The findings and insights guided us to reshape the scope to address the employee experience as well as the customer service experience.

Process of artefacts simplification
Process of artefacts simplification

Human-centred process and artefacts

After defining the scope, we focussed the project on two stores, and defined success factors and KPIs to measure and evaluate the results of the interventions. The two stores were chosen after careful evaluation. We used the Pareto principle as the main criterion to select an environment in which to implement the project. Then, we started the project preparation, co-designing all the dynamics (ceremonies, warm-ups exercises, etc.) and artefacts (user diaries, pitch cards, etc.). We co-designed a new employee and customer journey based on strengths and improvement opportunities identified. To meet sales and operational staff expectations, including the participation of people that had participated in many similar projects with a high resistance to change, we adapted the project artefacts to their simplest expressions, in order to facilitate their usage and adoption.

In the employee journey, we leveraged the scrum pillars (transparency, inspections and adaptation) to co-create ceremonies such as daily stand-ups, iteration reviews and retrospectives, in which employees could gather and support each other to boost morale, evaluate the team performance and adapt the sales strategy. With all resources and dynamics ready, we launched the pilot project, inviting store staff to an on-boarding session. The key to empower and transform people’s behaviour is to explain the ‘why’ in the right way, and involve them from the beginning.

Hacking scrum ceremonies to fulfil project’s objectives
Hacking scrum ceremonies to fulfil project’s objectives

Outcomes and learnings

After three one-week sprints, we reshaped the sales enforcement programme into a sales culture that would impact the workflow of 900 people in the sales staff and management chain. We identified an important learning issue: tools and methodologies are not rigid structures and must be adapted or hacked to fulfil both project and human needs and expectations. To support the challenge to scale to 120 stores, we converted the final journeys into a video journey to facilitate its distribution and better support people in their learning process. The biggest outcome of the symbiosis between service design and agile was that in a short period of time, we could help people in an iterative and user-centred way and understand their value and role within the organisation and value chain. This resulted in boosting morale and reducing resistance to change. Ultimately, the client encapsulated all the journey maps, sales protocols and other artefacts into a unified operational playbook that helped transform the employee experience, provide better customer service and drive revenue.

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