How we’ve helped users understand Membership

At one point or another, most digital teams have been convinced that their assumption about how to fix something will work but when they’ve tested it, they’ve found they’re still way off solving the problem.

That’s ok.

It’s fine to ‘fail’ as long as you do it quickly, learn from it and make changes to make things better. It’s part of working in an agile way. We should talk about failing more often. So, here’s an example of how we failed fast and learnt quickly in the Membership team.

Making assumptions based on user research

We’d seen from user research that most people, especially those who were new members, didn’t understand what a co-op is, how one operates and why it’s a different way of doing business.

Most people, especially those who are new members, don’t understand it even though we include loads of info on co-ops when we send out membership cards. But it looks like people either don’t read it at all, or, if they do, they don’t remember the information. Without that understanding, the Co-op Membership is just another loyalty card to most people.

During user research sessions when we talked about the idea of a co-op, people seemed interested. Not everyone, but some. The problem seemed to be not with the quality of information being given, but where and how in the user journey it was given.

It seemed if we could more effectively convey the concept of a co-op, that would be enough for some users to become more engaged. Certainly they would be better able to make an informed decision whether they wanted to get involved. They’d become true co-operators as opposed to just loyalty card users.

Making changes based on our assumptions

We designed an interaction where the information about co-ops and Co-op Membership was introduced to people as part of the online registration. Our hypothesis was that at this point in the user journey the member is more committed and more likely to have time to read this information and be more receptive to it.

By chunking the content into sections and importantly making it dismissable, the user would be able to digest as much or as little as met their needs, rather than being faced by the entirety of the proposition in one hit.

We know people don’t read things online. In fact you’re lucky if people read more than 20% of what you stick on a screen so we kept that in mind with the design.

Here are 2 examples of pages from the prototype.

Image shows a screenshot of a member account and a box out with information about Co-op Membership. It says: 'Your say in what we do' and gives an overview of things members can do.

Image shows a screenshot of a member account and a box out with information about 'Your 5% reward'

Then we tested the new design

During 2 rounds of research we spoke to 12 people (you can read more about our views on samples sizes in James Boardwell’s blog post ‘Small is beautiful’). The group included a mixture of ages, online capabilities and length of time being a member.

Before showing them our new design we asked each participant to fill in a short questionnaire to find out what they understood about Co-op Membership. We then interviewed them, and showed them the prototype that was intended to help them understand the idea of a co-op.

At the end of the session we asked them to fill in the same questionnaire.

Results showed we hadn’t got it right

As we expected, before looking at the prototype people didn’t understand:

  • what rewards they earned as a Co-op member
  • what a co-op is
  • elements of the Co-op such as the dividend, democracy and engagement

And the post-prototype results weren’t any better – the new design had had zero effect on users’ understanding.

Picking ourselves up. Trying again

We’d seen people read the information, but they didn’t take it in. Although we were giving them more control, we were still imposing a bulk of potentially irrelevant content rather than letting the user discover it in their own time, and reading as much or as little as met their need.

For some people, some of the information would have been both relevant and necessary – but for most their primary need at this point was to find out ‘what’s in it for me’ and everything else was a distraction.

So we iterated again. This time we wanted to give people a positive interaction that let them get only what they wanted, at a time when they needed it.

We added a ‘what’s this?’ drop down within members’ accounts to explain both rewards and Co-op points. Here’s how the current design looks.

Image shows a screenshot of the current design that has tested well. It shows the 'what's this' drop down box in a closed position.

Image shows a screenshot of the current design that has tested well. It shows the 'what's this' drop down box with content underneath that explains what this is.

We’d seen in research that many people often didn’t know exactly what they got for being a member so adding this was important.

Better results this time

During research we watched people time and again interacting with the drop down, unprompted. Responses were often comments from the user such as ‘ahhh, so that’s how it works’ or ‘I didn’t know that, I thought they’d send me vouchers’.

If there wasn’t that immediate, unprompted reaction we’d then follow it up with questions such as ‘what made you click on that’ and ‘what did it tell you’. This made us confident in what we were seeing had met the need we’d identified and so we released it. We know people are making use of it. Google Analytics tells us those drop down controls have been clicked 250,000 times since we released it on 14 February.

So after failing often and learning from, and iterating on, what users were saying to us, we’ve made good progress on helping people understand what rewards they’ve earned as a Co-op member.

We’re still researching how best to help people get a deeper understanding of what a Co-op is including elements of the Co-op such as the dividend, democracy and engagement. Those are things we haven’t solved yet, but we will. And it’ll probably involve a lot of failing fast.

Simon Hurst
User research

The Membership team is maturing, and so are our ways of working

On the Membership team we’re switching up how we organise ourselves to help us be more effective. Here’s why and how we’re doing it.

Evolving with the product

As teams mature, ie, they get bigger and the scope of work widens, it’s not hard to figure out that they’ll need to reorganise. American investor Ben Horowitz famously wrote about this in the book ‘The Hard Thing About Hard Things’. He said he believes that every time a team doubles in size, it should review its ways of working.

We’re doing something similar in the Membership team. Back in September, the product management team was just one person, Derek Harvie. Since we relaunched Membership, the scope of work has been getting larger so the team needs to scale up. The product team is now 4 people to reflect the change. One of those newbies is me.

Realising we’d outgrown stuff

When I joined, we had 3 teams: Blue, Orange and Pink. They were named after the colour of the post-it note that corresponded with what they were working on in the backlog. And that all made sense when the team was starting out; being lean and nimble negated the need to be aligned. But as our ambition for Membership grew, the team became more and more thinly spread and it became more difficult to properly focus on one thing, and really do it well.

Clarity around where we’re going (and how to know when we’ve got there)

We’ve introduced OKRs (objectives and key results) to make sure that everybody is moving together, in the same direction and aiming for the same things. Now, each team has a set of objectives and has agreed on a set of results that will show when it’s achieved what it set out to.

We looked for natural ways to split up the work so teams don’t have competing objectives. It means they can be in control of their own scope of work without lots of dependencies.

4 teams, 1 direction

At this point we naturally fell into 4 teams. This time, we’ve named them in a (slightly) more self-explanatory way. There’s:

  • More members (recruiting more members)
  • Member trading (looking at how our members shop with us)
  • Member engagement (engaging with Membership, causes and community)
  • Member services (managing the membership platform, ie, the backend infrastructure)

With clarity comes better prioritisation

Now we’re all on the same page we’ll find it easier to prioritise. Before, it was hard for the team to understand what to work on next because the tasks in the backlog fell into different areas.

Prioritising will be much simpler now we have the 4 teams working on different areas. Tasks are compared against other tasks from within that area so now it feels like we’re comparing apples with apples rather than apples with pears!

Better for us. Better for stakeholders

Working in this way is also really good in terms of how we’re working with stakeholders. The old way of working meant we had 30 plus stakeholders all wanting the tasks that fell under their area to be the priority. Hopefully, things will be calmer now each team has around 10 stakeholders to work with and include in decision making.

In a few more weeks we’ll be able to see if we’re achieving our targets and back it up with data, but at the moment it just feels like the right way to be working.

The team will continue to grow. Keep an eye on our work with us page.

Adam Warburton
Head of Membership Product

The first 8 months of the new Co-op Membership

We’ll be talking a lot about Co-op Membership, in the company of many of our members, at our Annual General Meeting tomorrow. We’ve also just had a retrospective where leaders from across our business got together to look at Membership. We reminded ourselves of what we originally set out to achieve, evaluated our progress and discussed what’s gone well and areas we feel we can improve on.

This seems like a good time to talk about where we’re at.

A good start

We launched the new membership scheme back in September last year and we’ve been blogging about the progress we’ve made since.

In January, we posted about our ambition: we want 1 million new members this year. Last week, Mike Bracken announced that we’ve reached 850k new members. It’s been a fantastic team effort to get to this point.

Members have earned over £45 million from the 5% they get back by buying our own-brand products and services. They also earn 1% for local causes and since September they’ve accumulated £9 million. Last month we gave that £9 million to over 4,000 local causes across the UK.

And it’s not just about new Membership. We’ve also reconnected with our loyal existing members. Since September, almost 1 million of our existing members have started to use their cards again. This means we now have 4.5 million active members trading across all our businesses.

You can see how membership is doing here.

But there’s still room for improvement

We’re pleased with what we’ve achieved over the past 8 months but there’s still much more to do. We’ve been listening to feedback from colleagues, members and customers along the way so we can continue to improve things. We do regular user research and retrospective reviews to make sure we’re continually building a membership scheme that works for our members. This is reflected in our service map that Jack blogged about recently.

photograph of Membership service map.

Just 7% of members chose a local cause during the first 6-month cycle

Members love the idea of choosing a local cause to support with the 1% they earn on own-brand purchases, but they’ve also told us that choosing a cause needs to be easier.

The team has been working hard to make it simpler on the website. We’ve iterated our design in line with learnings from research and the rate of members choosing a cause has increased by over 10%. We’re now looking to make choosing a cause simpler and more accessible in store.

There’s some confusion around reward structure

Screenshot shows Membership dashboard and rewards in punds and pence. And dividends.

We found that people get confused when a loyalty scheme rewards them with ‘points’. They ask: ‘but what are they worth?’ To make things simpler, Co-op rewards are shown in pounds and pence. But, because Co-op members are rewarded in 3 ways (dividend points, the 1% community reward and the 5% member reward) there’s still some confusion with members around how much they’ve actually earned and how to spend it.

We’ve been doing trials in store to make it easier to understand what the 5% means in terms of value by highlighting receipts, printing coupons with value and changing labeling on the shelves. We’ll be looking at making our communications simpler through things like member pricing and member baskets.

Not enough temporary member cards are fully registered

At the moment, customers can pick up a temporary card in store and start collecting rewards immediately. Then they need to register their temporary card online to become members and to be able to use their rewards. Not as many people are doing that as we’d like so we’re looking at how we can make it easier to do the whole thing in store.

We’ve been testing different options and will be running more pilots in June including use of in-store tablets and SMS messaging. We have also been considering how we take the £1 share payment. This is a really important step to be recognised as a member and we need to make it easier.

Helping more members have their say

When you’re a member you have the chance to influence what we do and how we do it by joining in. The membership website offers opportunities to ‘Get involved’. Recently, members sampled our new beers and wrote the tasting notes – a great example of the Co-op difference! Although we’ve seen some fantastic involvement from members, we think we can do more to help them find out about the opportunity in the first place.

We know that most involvement has been from new members, aged under 30, who have seen the ‘Get involved’ section of the site when they’ve completed registration. We’re looking at how we can display these opportunities in the right places to make them much more easy to find for all members.

Where we’re going from here

We’ve been listening to colleague, member and customer feedback as we’ve been going along so we can make improvements. We’ll never stop doing that. Next we’ll be thinking about new products and services we can launch, and we’re developing a plan as to how we’ll better meet our members needs on mobile throughout the rest of the year.

This is just the start. There’s a lot more to come.

Roberto Hortal
Director of Membership Products and  Services

Getting aligned with a Membership service map

We launched our new Membership in September 2016. It’s a really massive and complex area of work and spans all 5 Co-op businesses from Food to Legal Services; Insurance to Funeralcare and Co-op Electrical. Our role at Co-op Digital is to support those 5 areas by making stuff as simple as possible for potential members to join and existing members to get stuff done and join in.

Anyway, since we launched, the Co-op Digital Membership team has been working hard to improve the online and offline experience for members and potential new members.

A ‘journey map’ for product teams

Six months ago, product manager Derek asked our team, plus Matt Edgar from Stick People, to map out the granular interactions of the membership experience on a wall in Angel Square. The digital team uses this to prioritise and keep track of the work they’re doing. On a weekly basis, they gather around the wall and update it with work in progress, problems, research and data.

It’s working well and gives the digital team a good level of autonomy.

user journey map on the wall in 1 Angel Square

However, because there are lots of people working on Membership who don’t necessarily work in digital, this level of detail isn’t understood by everyone. (Which is ok, digital isn’t everyone’s expertise). The map is also stuck to a wall so it’s not accessible to some of the wider team.

So we figured we needed a separate but related, digital as well as physical, higher level service map. It would include all the work on membership, not just the online part of it, and it’d be accessible to everyone. This way, absolutely everybody who needs to know, can be in the know.

Different user, different service map

So that teams and stakeholders can get an overall view of the activity that’s going on, Lawrence and I started mapping out the framework for a service map, or blueprint, to help everyone see the end-to-end experience, both online and offline.

Using this framework as a foundation we held a workshop with the delivery teams, the marketing team and the data science team to add what we know. And what we don’t know.

delivery teams and supporting functions adding to the map

The Membership service map covers everything from when a customer becomes aware of the membership proposition, through to the sign-up process, earning and then spending rewards, choosing a local cause and voting at the AGM.

photograph of Membership service map.

The purpose of the high-level service map is to:

  • see all the steps within the end-to-end journey
  • highlight what we know about user behaviour and service at each stage (quantitative and qualitative)
  • highlight colleague and touchpoint interactions at each stage
  • highlight metrics and data we track at each stage
  • show all the known work being carried out at each stage

The service map will add value because it will:

  • give us a single source of truth
  • make it easy for stakeholders to understand membership and engage with it
  • make our work visible to the rest of the organisation
  • show pain points, opportunities, recommendations for testing
  • help teams see what other sub-teams are working on and work together effectively
  • be the focus of membership service decision making in the future

Service mapping at the Co-op: it’s early days

Service design is a fairly new way of thinking and working at the Co-op but there are plenty of examples around the business of how useful this role can be.

The Funeralcare digital service uses a service blueprint to map the complex business of arranging a funeral from the colleague, logistical and customer viewpoints. And the Leading the Way team has mapped out the overall colleague, customer and product experience in stores.

What now?

Going forward we’ll use the map to monitor the service and make changes. The team will continue to work with the wider business to improve the service. 

Jack Fletcher
Interaction designer

Giving local causes the £9 million our members have earned

Co-op members earn 5% for themselves and 1% for their local cause when they buy Co-op own-brand products. The local cause funds have been building up since we launched our new membership in September and have reached approximately £9 million.

Six months on, we’re now starting to pay that £9 million to the 4000 local causes over the UK.

To celebrate, we worked with director Shane Meadows to show some of the projects our members have been supporting. Here’s his film.

Thank you to our members for helping us make a difference to your local communities. Like George the Poet says in the opening line of the film, “Great things happen when we work together.”

If you haven’t already, join us and become a Co-op member.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Members, have you chosen a local cause?

This Saturday, 8 April, is the deadline for Co-op members to choose which local cause their 1% will go to. If you haven’t chosen already, sign in online and you’ll be prompted to choose one. You’ll see this: 

screen shot of what the page looks like in a member's account who hasn't chosen a local cause yet.

From this date we’ll have a new set of projects in your community for you to choose from.

How it all works

Each time members buy a Co-op branded product and swipe their membership card, they earn 5% for themselves to spend at the Co-op and 1% for their community. They can choose which local cause their 1% goes towards.

And things are going well. At the time of posting, Co-op members have raised over £4 million for local causes. Co-op supports up to 3 local causes in over 1,500 communities across the UK. You can learn more about how we’re getting on on our local community fund page.

We talk about the 5% and 1% stuff regularly on the blog but we haven’t spoken in much detail about how everything works behind the scenes. So here’s what happens next.

Paying out after 6 months

We let the funds from the 1% build up for 6 months, so in this case it’s from September when we launched the new Membership, to now.  

At the end of each day a member’s 1% balance is checked and one of 2 things happen. If a member has selected a cause, the 1% earned goes into that pot. If they haven’t, the funds stay put in an unallocated pot.

At the end of the 6-month cycle we’ll do the number crunching. Then we’ll split the 1% balances for anyone who didn’t choose a cause equally between the causes in their community. We’ll then send the sums over to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and they’ll process the payment so each local cause gets what they’re due.

See where your money’s going

Very soon we’ll have a new page on the Membership website where you can see your giving history. The page will show a list of the causes that you’ve supported. From here you’ll be able to see how much you’ve contributed as well as revisit the profile pages of the local causes to see how much they raised.

A new set of projects from local causes

If you’re a member you’ll carry on supporting the cause you chose until 8 April or until you choose a different one. On 9 April however, we’ll have a new set of projects from local causes for you to choose to give your 1% to. Between November and January, local causes applied to be part of the new round of funding. Since then we’ve checked the applications are eligible and have given our colleagues a say in which local causes they want to be part of the Local Community Fund.

You can become a Co-op member online or pick up a temporary card in store.

You can see the latest data on the 5% and 1% rewards on our Membership data page.

Liam Cross
Agile business analyst

How members joined in, drank beer and wrote the tasting notes

We set up the Co-op Member Voice team to, well, give Co-op members a voice. We’ve been engaging with members both online and in their communities in many ways. We’ve asked them to ‘join in’ and talk to us about their favourite pizza toppings, we’ve arranged community dog walks and we’ve done an awful lot of baby talk!

By speaking and listening to our customers and members, we’ve got a better chance of both meeting their needs and giving them what they’d like.

One of our first Member Voice engagements was when we gave 100 active members in Holmfirth 6 bottles of wine so they could host their own wine tasting event. We asked for their thoughts and used their recommendations and tasting notes in point of sale material in the Holmfirth store. All 6 types of wine saw an increase in sales when the member testimonies were seen by customers.

One of our most popular opportunities was when we asked members about their favourite local real ales. Over 900 members waxed lyrical about their favourite local tipples and you can see what we learnt on the main Co-op blog.

Try the beer, write the tasting notes

We had a big response to these opportunities so in January we invited 100 members to taste 3 brand new, not-even-in-the-shops-yet, Co-op own-brand beers: IPA, Triple Hop and Golden Ale. We asked members to taste them and tell us what they thought for the chance to see their tasting notes on the labels.

It’ll be interesting to see if members and customers react to the member comments on the packaging keeping in mind the successes of the Holmfirth wine trial on local wine sales.

Beer sampling on social

As you can imagine it didn’t take long for the 100 cases to get snapped up. Members were thrilled to be asked to taste and give their thoughts on our new beers and ales and took to Twitter to share what they were doing. You can see some of their tweets by searching #coopjoinin.

image shows tweet with twitter image. tweet says: 'cheers COOP can't wait to buy more of these especially GOLDEN ALE, just simply exceptional. twitter image shows man holding bottle and glass of beer.

image of tweet which includes a twitter picture. tweet says: 'really enjoyed trying three new beers for @coopuk. the triple hop was our favourite - highly recommended. Thanks for letting us #coopjoinin'

The 100 tasters then filled in a survey about the beers and the Beers, Wines and Spirits team chose a comment about each beer that would be printed on the corresponding bottle.

The Golden Ale tasting notes were from Michael Gibbons, a Co-op member from Luton. 

image shows the The Golden Ale label with member's tasting notes: ‘A smooth ale with a golden caramel complexion, the perfect beer for a summer garden.’

Sam Dineley, a Co-op member from Bristol wrote the Triple Hop tasting notes.

image shows The Triple Hop label and tasting notes:‘A complex but complementary blend of hops gives this beer a rich and rounded flavour with a subtle and smooth aftertaste’

And the IPA comment was from Tom Packman, a Co-op member from Essex.

image shows IPA label with tasting notes: ‘Good, traditional IPA. Voluminous, good body and fruity hop.’

A meet-up in a brewery

We invited the 3 members whose notes were chosen to Frederick Robinson’s Brewery where we make and bottle the ales. After a full brewery tour, we were taken to the bottling plant to see the Triple Hop bottles coming down the line and being filled and packaged ready to head to our Co-op Food stores. Then we tasted some of Robinson’s customer favourites, along with the fresh off the line Triple Hop.

The Co-op ales go on sale in our Co-op Food stores on 13 March and our members’ voices are shouting loud and proud from the label!

You can join in with a Member Voice opportunity by logging into your Co-op Membership account.

If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership. Join us!

Visit drinkaware.co.uk for the facts about alcohol.

Terry McLeod
Member Voice team