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ROLE

Design Lead

SKILLS

UX Design Service Design UI Design Prototyping

I led the User Experience and User Interface efforts for the research, ideation, and user interface design of a reimagined end-to-end service journey for a national rail transport provider.

The delivered interactive prototypes and service design recommendations were received with great jubilation and acclaim by the client, and are currently being implemented as part of a full-scale digitisation undertaking sparked by our work.

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BigRail* (named changed for confidentiality reasons) is one of the world's largest rail cargo and logistics providers, providing freight and transport logistics services to its customers for over a century. Operating one of largest rail networks on the planet, the company moves over 200 millions tonnes of freight per year and employs tens of thousands of staff.

In 2015 the company was in a state of evolution, with a focus on technological innovation and customer centricity, and it was with this backdrop that I served as Design Lead on a 2-month Service & UX Design project.

Working with a small team of designers and analysts, we partnered with BigRail to help improve the company's flagging customer service journey.

A customer-first approach

It was important to get an early understanding of BigRail's customers and their current experiences, and this depended in large part on the foundations we built early on through open dialogue.

To facilitate this we set up and ran a number of design-led workshops involving customers across various sectors, along with separate sessions with service staff to understand the current process from within.

These workshops and sessions helped us gather insights that would go towards formulating and iterating a service blueprint for BigRail and agree core experience principles that would drive future design decisions.

Sketching out the port-to-customer journey.

Pain to Gain

The workshops highlighted a number of pain-points and opportunity areas, including:

  • Reliability and consistency ("I never really have any idea when my container will be here until it's arrived."),
  • Customer service ("Whenever I call up for status updates, I constantly get transferred. I’d love to have just one person to talk to"),
  • A lack of confidence ("We put our business in your hands, but we take on all the risk and financial loss when there are issues and delays"), and
  • Security concerns ("I need to know that my goods inside are safe and that my fragile or hazardous material is not at risk.")

Low fidelity, high utility

Using these insights as a foundation, we created measurable goals and objectives with the BigRail stakeholder team, and then undertook exercies to help us understand BigRail's current capabilities from the technology, operations, and service support perspectives. This understanding, together with our first-hand customer insights, would help us prototype and rapidly test potential solutions.

The low-fidelity experiences we prototyped were tested and iterated on with customers, both in formal usability testing sessions and informal in-person feedback loops. This process helped us define a simple information architecture and translate our learnings into solid interface points for our interactive prototypes.

Getting all interactive

With the help of the brilliant Invision prototyping software, we stepped things up in the fidelity stakes to create an iPad experience that we could take to staff and customers on the ground at BigRail's ports and regional offices. Being able to observe users interacting with our prototypes using real devices and in their actual day-to-day environments helped us to understand some of the contextual issues we previously hadn't considered, and these takeaways helped us learn and improve the experience at every stage.

Our final interactive prototypes and service design recommendations were received extremely well by the BigRail stakeholder team

The leadership team were particularly impressed by the depth and quality of work, our turnaround time and the fact that our 'inclusive design' process had actively incorporated real customer and BigRail input, testing and feedback at every step.

The tablet and mobile applications that came out of our work are curently under development by a joint client and external team - implemented as part of a full-scale digitisation operation.

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