Mock-up Request Service – (Service Design)

Design a research-based process to deliver pre-production samples of consumer goods to overseas clients

The Problem

Our client was experiencing a classic chicken and egg scenario. Their exciting new product would land in-store after six months of development. But they needed to see, touch and feel what their final product would look like right now, before production starts. 

  • Mock-ups can promote campaign dynamics at the early stages of conception by turning complex flat packaging artworks into a final product
  • Mock-ups have the power to communicate a client’s perceived design strategy to a wider audience at the start of the production process

The brief: Manage a complete redesign of our end-to-end Mock-up Request Process to by mapping out a Service Blueprint and identifying touchpoints on a User Journey Map to communicate the evolution of the service over time. Our aim should be to win more orders from the local suppliers, reduce errors for the client and generate additional revenue for the agency. 

Key considerations

  • Who are the stakeholders involved in this process?
  • Who is responsible for collecting all the information required for these complex jobs?
  • What digital artefacts currently exist?
  • What digital artefacts are needed to improve the service?
  • What promise of value do we want to offer our client?
  • How can we make the process easier instead of more complicated?
  • How can we measure success? 

Goals

I started with the following service design mindset by considering the client, the business and all the employees involved in making this happen:

  • The solution should be user-centered, include all stakeholders and must be based on the qualitative research from interviews.
  • The solution needs to break this complex service into separate processes and user journey sections.
  • The solution needs to consider all touchpoints throughout the end-to-end process, across countries, service partners interactions.
  • In addition the final blueprint should give recommendations during high-risk touchpoints to increase the effectiveness of the service being offer to the client.
  • Measurable metrics for success:
    • Increase our delivery success rate from 80% to 95%
    • Increase client satisfaction by moving from “amber” to “green” in our client quarterly update 
    • Earn an additional 20k revenue per region by convincing our client to place the job with us rather than a local supplier

Contextual enquiry

Project managing mock-up requests were notoriously problematic and difficult to manage. I booked a kick-off meeting with my project team and together we sketched out a user-centered research and project plan.  

People

I chose to conduct interviews with department heads, key project managers and external suppliers. We were able to build a perception of the regional difficulties that each team faced that could have an impact on the process. I wrote a script that included five short questions for all teams to answer.

The various stakeholders that are all part of the user’s journey include:

  • The client
  • The on-site project manager
  • The studio manager
  • The artwork team
  • The print technical team
  • The production team
  • The fulfilment team

Client Job Stories

The stories that my clients shared were insightful. Common in many multi-national companies, local markets are empowered to make relevant changes to the guideline process in order to meeting their country’s targets. These changes added an extra level of complexity in creating an aligned process for the European market.

Key insights from my affinity mapping

My client’s top line goal: I want a high-quality mock-up that looks exactly like my future product and for it to be delivered on time to contribute to my marketing roll-out plan.

Agency Pain Points

Similarly I collected equally important insights from all stakeholders within the production cycle that had not been fully addressed during previous cycles and only arose during qualitative field study research.

Stakeholder pain-points from across the business

Affinity maps

I wrote all my research data pertaining to previously problematic, misunderstood or failed jobs onto post-it notes to form affinity maps. By grouping different data pieces under various headings, a story started to unfold that guided us to focus our solution around the kick-off meeting where our opportunity to obtain a detailed brief was.

Reported problems when pertinent information was omitted from the brief
  • Problem statement: Our European Project Managers need a refined end-to-end process with a set of easy-to-use procedures and order forms:
    • we are making mistakes from bad briefs
    • we are underestimating the complexity of jobs
    • we only have one chance to impress the client
  • We will know when we have achieved our goal when we reach our three SMART goals: 
    • Increase our delivery success rate from 80% to 95%
    • Increase client satisfaction by moving from “amber” to “green” in our quarterly update 
    • Earn an additional 20k revenue per region

Task analysis

I mapped our original process that served as our starting off point in order to redesign our process. I discovered that this process had evolved organically over time, with changes being made only to avoid a repeat mistake and without anyone mapping out an end-to-end service blueprint.

Together we discussed this process to map out a full journey map that included touchpoints of emotional risk for the client. My process:

  • I stuck x6 A4 sheets of cardboard to create a giant board
  • I added the task analysis
  • I added people, artefacts, environments, policies and processes
  • I added the user journey

We highlighted the emotional touchpoints that were at high-risk of decreasing our client service and found solutions to avoid each one.

Digital Artefacts

In order for all European Project Managers to deliver a consistent service to our client, I created a series of inter-referring documents that guided all users through the refined process and empowered them to become experts.

User testing – what needs changing

We took three mock-up request jobs and asked the On-site Project Managers to follow our new process and documentation. We identified these new problems and corrected them in the second design iteration.

“The new process is detailed, but complicated. How do I know what I’m responsible for?”

– European Project Manager tester
  • We realised that without a defined set of roles and responsibilities, mis-communication or misunderstanding could lead to a project failure
    • Suggested Change – HIGH PRIORITY
      • We created an exhaustive list of roles and responsibilities. Each were listed with a combination of letters:
        • R = to be responsible
        • S = to support
        • C = to be consulted
        • I = to be informed
    • Evidence
      • >40% of testers were not clear what they were responsible for
      • We updated our process flow diagram to represent the changes and re-tested
The additional form that was added to the set of procedural manuals

“We need you to reduce the number of days needed to deliver and match our local supplier.”

Client tester
  • Our original timeline had to be general, but ended up being too generous. We needed to be more competitive compared to local suppliers and decrease product production time
    • Suggested Change – HIGH PRIORITY
      • Add an additional decision stage within the process:
        • In order to manage client expectations, we planned to send them x1 copy for approval before starting production, but only if the client were to agree to the timeline
        • If we needed to reduce production time, then we would recommend approval via email (i.e multiple photos under different lighting) or video conferencing call 
    • Evidence
      • Testing was carried out to ensure approval via email or video conferencing
      • Client was happy to have the choice and take a small risk to reduce production time
      • We updated our process flow diagram to represent the changes

“We need a capacity management solution should our client place multiple orders at the same time.”

– User Tester
  • This was a realistic situation if our client launched a global campaign. Multiple markets could place a big order and we would not have had capacity to deliver everything
    • Suggested Change – HIGH PRIORITY
      • We started onboarding new suppliers and documented the process
      • The new documentation was added to the set of procedural manuals
      • We created a supplier checklist that anyone could follow to ensure a new supplier were able to deliver a consistent quality for our client
    • Evidence
      • We looked at previous global campaigns and projected a capacity based on all markets ordering within the same week, proving that we would have been under capacity
      • We tested a user onboarding a new supplier using the new sheet and the task was completed successfully
      • We researched the market and added new potential suppliers to the list for future reference

Project summary

  • Future opportunities:
    • Raise the profile of this project by extending the live education session and present the new service to our client, emphasising how it could make their job easier
    • Provide a regular report for the client that includes job success rate and usage benefits
  • Key learnings:
    • How to manage the initial expectation of the client – we adopted a strong ethos of transparent communication and addressed all issues / potential issues immediately with a strict “zero surprises for the client” policy
    • Learning how to constantly pivot and amend the project plan when day-to-day client priorities arose. This included transparent communication with key stakeholders and with our agency

About me

I’m Martin Gamble, a UX and Service Designer with a background in design, operations and project management.

I’m originally from the UK, have lived in Germany for 6 years and am Berlin-based.

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