Product Range Finder

Hello, I’m Claire Carroll. My teams speak to thousands of our members and customers every day in our member and customer contact centre.

A picture of Claire Carroll
Claire Carroll

One of the most common calls to our stores and our customer care team is whether or not a particular product is stocked in a store. Our stores stock slightly different products because:

  • they are different sizes
  • customers in different locations have different needs

When we get calls about what products are in a particular store, it takes the team a little time to find the answer. Advisers needed to look in a few different places for the information. The system we used was clunky, taking around 10 minutes to locate a store. Knowing it would take too long, advisers would often tell customers that they would need to call customers back. This was a poor experience for our members, customers and colleagues.

A few months ago, with their service design partner UsTwo, the digital team began a discovery with our Food business to choose 3 alpha projects.

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Product Range Finder Show & Tell


One of the chosen alphas was Product Range Finder. The alpha project was to build a simple prototype, allowing my team to have a single tool to use when answering queries on product range, and to see if this tool improved our efficiency and experience.

The new prototype is much easier to use than the old system and provides more information. For example, it tells customers how many stores stock a particular product, and how many of those stores are in a 15 mile radius from them.

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Product Range Finder – showing list view of the products, and how many stores stock the listed product
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Product Range Finder – map view of stores that stock the product selected

We receive 200 queries a month about finding product ranges. The prototype saves us approximately 10 minutes on each one. This equates to an extra 7 hours a week.

We’ve found this prototype so invaluable that we requested changes are done out of hours. We didn’t want any down time during the day.

My team’s enjoyed working as part of the product team to test the prototype and suggest improvements. The advisors have loved being the experts and have been amazed how quickly their feedback has led to improvements to the system.

Next for the product team is the beta phase. They’ll make a technically sound, scalable version of the prototype. They’ll make sure the the data feeds are right, look at adding availability information, and take some steps towards making the tool customer facing.

Claire Carroll
Head of Member & Customer Services

Co-op Finder Alpha Update

In my previous post I talked about the work we’re doing to improve our store and branch locator. We’ve continued to improve our new Co-op Finder Alpha and added a page for each store.

All the updates have come from:

  • user feedback from the form on the page
  • user research sessions
  • comments on the blog
  • messages on Twitter

So, if you gave us some feedback, thanks very much. You’ve helped to shape our service for colleagues, members and customers.

Design

Here’s a couple of the design changes we made.

We improved the text input box and how we show the ‘use my location’ option. This was because our users were confused when we tested it out:

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We have reduced the space taken up by the list and map tabs. It was pushing the most important information too far down the screen:

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Local pages

Users asked us to show facilities and services for each store. We’ve added a link to more information that goes to a page about each store. These pages are essential for helping people find stores more easily on search sites. They give us a great opportunity to test new features about a store and its local community.

Information accuracy

Most of the feedback we received was about:

  • opening hours
  • the accuracy of where the pin appears on the map 
  • the need to quickly update information about stores that have closed or changed ownership

The good news is that we’ve improved the accuracy of the location coordinates from 17% to around 88%. That’s around 3,500 stores now with an accurate pin on the map.

There are lots more improvements in the pipeline and we’ll keep you updated here.

Our show and tell is every Wednesday, 10th Floor, 1 Angel Square in Manchester at 10.15-10.45. All colleagues and Member Council members are welcome.

Ben Rieveley
Product Manager, Location Services

Co-op Finder Alpha

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Co-op Finder Alpha – list results view

We’ve made live our Co-op Finder Alpha. Have a look https://alpha.coop.co.uk/finder.

If you’ve ever used our old store locator, you’ll see there are lots of things that aren’t in the new one. There’s a reason for that. We don’t know whether it was useful or not, in fact there’s a lot we don’t know. 

We’ll use our Co-op Finder Alpha to learn more.

We do know a lot of people choose to come to our website to use our store locator to see whether we are open, usually around those times when opening hours in general are not obvious, like Sunday evenings and national holidays.

We also know that the next most common thing customers need, is to know where the nearest Co-op is to a specific location. 

We’ve kept a few obvious elements, like telephone numbers and links to get directions, but other than that we’ve removed anything that we don’t have an evidenced user need for.

There are two opportunities for users to provide feedback on the experience itself and whether the information is correct, through this and further user research we will understand better what needs to be there.

We’ve already learnt a lot and have some solid improvements in the pipeline that we’ll make live shortly.

Our show & tell is part of the coop.co.uk session every Wednesday, 10th Floor, 10.15-10.45 – all colleagues and Council members welcome.

Please let us know what you think.

Ben Rieveley
Product Manager

Introducing Co-op Paperfree

Hello, I’m Tom, and I’m the Chief Product Engineer at CoopDigital. That means I do a bit of writing code, a bit of design and a bit of pointing at whiteboards. I’ve been here since January, and it’s been an incredible first six months. There’s a brilliant, excited team here, and I’m proud to be part of it.

You might have seen Mike’s speech from our AGM, where he set out our ambition to be, amongst other things, trusted with your data. That’s a big topic and no small feat, but we’ve been working on an experiment to help us understand what it might take.

If you’re anything like me there’s a lot of paper in your life. It just keeps turning up: envelopes full of bills, bank statements, notifications about pensions, and so on.

Often they go straight in the recycling, but sometimes I keep things around because I *might* need to refer to them again in the future. So they get thrown into heaps and piles that move slowly from the kitchen to the stairs to the attic.

Many of the people we’ve spoken to in our research feel overwhelmed by their documents: information is never to hand when they need it, things get lost, and they take up loads of room.

We think we can help, with a simple, secure app to help you go paperless. Our working title is Co-op Paperfree.

paper-free-screens

You get your documents into Paperfree by scanning them with your phone’s camera. We make the contents of the scanned photos searchable using character recognition, so you can always find what you’re looking for without needing to organise too neatly ahead of time.

But Paperfree isn’t just for storage. We’re exploring ways of to make your life easier with automatic reminders for expiry dates, and ways of safely sharing with housemates, for example.

And of course, these important documents are increasingly digital, so we’ll be supporting those equally.

For most people this is some of the most sensitive data they hold, and we’re very aware of the security and privacy risks, both technical and social. We’re working alongside Sarah Gold and her team at IF, to ensure we put our users in control of their data. We’ll talk more about this in a later post.

scan-screen

So that’s a quick introduction to Co-op Paperfree. It’s the first prototype we’re developing in this area, and we’re excited to have a handful of our colleagues testing it right now. (Gulp!)

If you’re interested in working on this, or products like it, we’re hiring engineers, designers and user researchers.

If you are a colleague or a council member and want to find out more you can join us at our regular show and tell which is every other Tuesday 9.30 on the 10th Floor of 1 Angel Square. The next one is the 19th July, hope to see lots of people there.

Tom Taylor

Wills Alpha

A small multi-disciplinary team at the Co-op have been working to rethink Wills. Mike promised at the AGM that we would talk openly about what we’ve done. This is a post about our 10 weeks working on an ‘Alpha’ prototype and what we’ve learned.

Wills are interesting

I never thought I’d be writing those words but Wills are interesting.

Over half the population die without a Will and these people don’t get a say over what happens to their property, possessions and children when they die. No Will means a mess for family and friends to clear up at a time of stress. At best this leads to confusion and at worse family breakdown.

And even though people know a Will is worth doing and most people say they’ll get round to it, procrastination is normal. In other words, what people say they’ll do and what people actually do are completely different.

Why do people do that?

Part of the reason behind this apathy is that people don’t like to think about their own death – which is understandable, but there are other factors too.

Most people do not understand the language and concepts used in a Will.  Even those people that sit down and think “I’m going to do this” end up baffled by, and lost in legalese. They start the process, then stop when they come up against a barrier.

Then there’s the practicalities. Overwhelmingly people want to speak to someone to get advice and the reassurance that they’ve done it right. Usually that means trips to the local solicitor’s office, maybe some time off work, form filling, and a couple of hundred pounds for a document that gathers dust in the filing cabinet upstairs. That doesn’t feel like a good use of people’s time.

These make for some really interesting service design challenges and there’s a lot that can be improved about Wills. By applying the culture, practices, processes and technologies of the Internet-era we hope to do just that.

Wills Blog Image

10 people, 10 weeks to build an Alpha

For the last 10 weeks a small team of developers, designers, lawyers and user researchers were given space to explore Wills. We used agile ways of working to build an early prototype version (an Alpha) and test it with real people.

Mobile screen shot of Wills alpha

Mobile screen shot of Wills alpha

Mobile screen shot of Wills alpha

Mobile screen shot of Wills alpha

 

The purpose of creating an Alpha is to learn about the problem space, learn how to work together as a team, test our assumptions and to build confidence in delivery.

Designing for humans

Every two weeks we delivered working software and put it in front of six or seven people (in the market for a Will and not connected to the Co-op) to observe what they did with it. We asked them questions like “what do you think happens next?” and where we reached the edges of what we’d built we used paper prototypes or mocked-up service.

This helped us better understand people’s actual needs, fears and motivations – even when they were only using a partially developed service. Our user research taught us things that we would have missed had we specified a solution up-front. For example, we learned:

  • People want advice when they need it. They want a Will that is right for them, not just any Will. This may seem obvious, but it is visceral and trumps convenience. People want to talk it through and in this respect, conversations are reassuring and remove some of the fear of Wills.
  • Some people want a Will immediately, others want to go away and think about something or ask some questions. In other words the service needs to be designed to go at people’s own pace.
  • People’s expectations have changed. People no longer understand why they can’t update a Will when they want to, or why it is such a long winded process described in arcane terminology. People want the process to be robust but also more modern and accessible and for it to change as their lives change.

Onwards to Beta

Agile ways of working allow teams and businesses to experiment with new service ideas quickly and cheaply without needing to specify the problem and the solution up front (you can’t and you shouldn’t) or needing to commit to plans based on big, up-front assumptions. Our sponsors gave a small multi-disciplinary team a problem to solve and allowed us the space to work it out.  They empowered a team to learn and experiment. This means happier team and we think, better product.

We’ve now been given permission to develop a public Beta of the Co-op Wills service so you’ll hear more about this in the next few months.  We’ll share more about that as we go along.

Jamie Arnold