Dave Johnson: introducing ‘Fed Talks’ and more on our mobile app

(Transcript) Dave Johnson: Hello, and welcome to this week’s Co-op Digital update.

You may have read our blog post last week about the mobile app that we’re building to allow our members to scan their phones at the till and view their balances and transactions.

We’ve spoken to our store colleagues and customers and our members who’ve highlighted that a digital membership card could provide value to our members. We’re building the first part of this new functionality to act as a platform to grow in the future and we’re going to test it with our colleagues first in the support centre here at Angel Square.

We have show and tells every other Thursday, so come and join us. They’re in the auditorium on the 6th floor at Federation House. The first one’s on the 10th August at 2pm.

We also held a ‘Fed talks’ session in Federation House this week. The theme was food and agriculture. Thanks to Lawrence Kitson for organising and for Shirley Sarker and Abby Rose from Wool for spending their time talking with our colleagues. Thank you.

The lower floors of Federation House are also coming along with the coffee shop, events spaces and meeting rooms – they’re all almost ready. If anyone would like a tour you can contact Victoria Howlett who will happily show both Co-op colleagues and anyone else who is interested the space at Federation.

In the last few weeks we’ve welcomed a few new faces to the Digital team. Paul D’Ambra has joined us as a software engineer and Hannah Horton joins us as a content designer.

Finally, congratulations to Karen Lindop who is now our Digital Head of Operations and also to Gail Lyon who has been acting in the role for sometime but is now our Head of Digital Engagement. Well done.

That’s it for this week, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog and follow us on Twitter. Thank you.

Dave Johnson
Director of Digital Engineering

Making the move to user research

User research helps make products and services that work for the people who use them. It takes loads of different forms including lab sessions and interviews, onsite visits and analysing data but, regardless of its form, it must be present throughout the design process. And even after the thing is live.  

Moving into a user research role

I’ve worked at the Co-op for just under 2 years. I originally joined the Analytics and Optimisation team, but for the last 10 months I’ve been a user researcher at Co-op Digital.

User research really appealed to me because it’s about listening to users as well as looking at data. My old role was heavy on the quantitative side of things: I evaluated data collected from user journeys and improved the experience for users. Good user researchers consider both quantitative and qualitative research so I’ve been working on my qualitative research skills. Now I feel even better equipped to help teams design the right thing.

User research at Co-op Digital

I applied for a user research role after seeing the work that our now Head of User Research James Boardwell and the team were doing with wills. The multidisciplinary team was working in an agile way to build a digital service to make it simpler and quicker for Co-op customers to get a will.

I saw how both data and qualitative research fed into the design process. User research formed the basis for discussions and the team could test ideas, put them in front of people and iterate them quickly. The whole team came to user research sessions so that everyone saw first-hand how users behaved when we put prototypes in front of them and asked questions. The team analysed the themes that came out of the sessions together which meant that everyone had a similar idea about where the design was heading.

Everything moved so quickly and decisions were based on things that the team had seen or heard. At each show and tell the team knew so much more than the week before – they’d added another piece to the jigsaw. They’d started small and built the right thing, quickly. I loved watching their progress.

My first taste of user research

Supporting James was my first experience as a user researcher. I joined the Wills team during a sprint focused on increasing the number of people making it to the confirmation page. I already had good experience in this from my previous role but here I also got to see James talking to people, showing them the prototype and doing qualitative research in lab sessions.

The data I’d collected told us what was happening with real people using the website, and James’ conversations with people told us why it was happening. The data showed that the exit rate from the ‘Your details’ page was disproportionately high. Qualitative research told us that people felt uncomfortable giving their personal details before knowing exactly what the service offered. Changing the order of the pages, so, giving the user more upfront information, resulted in more people completing the form.

The 2 kinds of insight complemented each other. You can read more about this in James’ post, User research and sample sizes.

Learning how user research works in a product team

I spent 6 months working with the Membership team too. User research gives us the chance to test things to make sure we’re doing the right thing for users. This way, any decisions we make are better informed.

Working on Membership opened my eyes to other ways of doing research too. It’s not just about interviews. We:

  • used qualitative website feedback and quantitative analytics to compare what users told us with what they actually do
  • visited stores to find out what our members and customers talk to colleagues about
  • spoke directly to members

It’s about analysing all available resources.

Leading my first project

Photograph of a user research session. Shows 10 members of the Electrical discovery team talking about and analysing what they've seen in the user research lab.

For the last 2 months I’ve been leading the user research on a discovery in our Electrical business. This project has helped me learn a lot about how user research informs service design through techniques like customer journey mapping and service blueprints. Service design is a fairly new way of thinking at Co-op Digital so leading this project was sometimes challenging, but we’ve got a strong user research community at Co-op Digital and support and advice was always available if I needed it.

Hard work, but worth it

I think the biggest challenge for a user researcher is using all of their observations and data to find the need, and working with the team to translate these into things we can work on.

User research encourages teams to take a more balanced approach to design. It changes the way teams work and brings the business and digital sides of things together. It’s a way to stop people jumping to conclusions about what’s ‘right’ because we’re using evidence to make decisions. And ultimately, that’s going to work better.

If learning about how people behave and why sounds interesting and you want to help teams build the right thing, quickly and cost-effectively, get in touch with James Boardwell or leave a comment on the blog.

Vicki Riley
User researcher

Mike Bracken: 4.5 million active members, Federation and thanks to Jamie

(Transcript) Mike Bracken: Hello, welcome to the Co-op Digital weekly update.

We’ll start as ever with a big number, 4.5 million active members now at the Co-op, so those numbers keep growing and that’s a huge change since September 21st last year, so well done to the team for that. And that work’s being recognised.  This week the team in Membership have been shortlisted for a Retail Week Technology Award for that program, so well done to them.

Other highlights of the week, we’ve opened our co-working space in Federation building, the Federation right over the road from Angel Square you can now go see that check out the details on the blog.

I’d like to welcome a few people Nassali Douglas has joined as a Member Pioneer Manager, Richard Shenton coming as a Finance Manager, they’ve come from other parts of the Co-op, Louise Nicholas has joined us as a designer welcome to the Co-op and I’d like to say goodbye to Jamie Arnold who’s been brilliant leading our agile work as a delivery manager, he’ll be much missed.

Thank you very much to him and see you next week.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

Speaking to our members about how their personal data is used

Last month, the data team blogged about how we want to become trusted with our members’ data. We said that one of the pieces of work we’re doing to help us strengthen our position of trust is around understanding how members feel about personal data. We wanted to find out what our members thought about their data being used and shared for various things.

A survey to start

We asked members to take part in a survey. 148 people completed it but not everyone answered every question.

Here are 5 things we’ve learnt so far.

1. 50% want more transparency around how data is used1.2.50%-want-to-know-more

Half of the people who took the survey said they’d like to know more about how personal information is used by organisations and businesses, but they don’t know how to find out. To set the Co-op apart from the rest, we should be clear about how we’re using this information and, if people want even more information, we should make that easy to find.

This leads us to our next learning…

2. Members would like to understand how their data is used

We asked members whether they thought they understood enough about how organisations use their personal information.

Three out of 10 members said they feel they know enough or everything about this. Which leaves 7 out of 10 wanting more information or having no idea about how personal information is used. That’s good to know. It indicates we should be explaining more about what we do, and what we don’t do, with member data.

3. What people do before trusting someone with their data

When it comes to thinking about trusting an organisation with personal details, only 2% of people said that didn’t do anything before hitting the submit button.

We asked: “Which of the following do you routinely do before submitting personal information?” The most popular answer was: “Make sure I amend my marketing preferences.” “Check for secure symbols/assurance marks on the website” was a close second.

Only 3 out of 10 people said that they read the terms and conditions or small print though. We think that we could go further in making our privacy notices easier to understand and more likely to be read and understood.

4. Members are happy to share their data for the right reasons

We asked our members if there were any reasons why they’d be happy for us to safely and anonymously share their data. Unsurprisingly for Co-op members, 70% said they’d be happy if it benefited the local community! Some of the comments around this were “Because the Coop is for local people”, “Local community is important” and “Because it’s for a worthwhile reason”.

One respondent said that although they don’t like the idea of their data being shared, the best reason to do it would be if it helped the local community. That person emphasised that their data must be safe and whoever has the data must be accountable. We completely agree and we’ll continue to prioritise data safety. We will also continue to speak to our Member Council and Members as we go.

5. People trust us

Over three quarters (76%) of our respondents said that they trust us to keep their data safe and to use it sensibly (79%). This is also good news. However we can’t sit back and relax on that one. We know that we must do the right thing, not the easy thing in order to bring our Co-op difference to data. We’ll continue to work in the open.

image shows text that says: People trust us and a graphic of two hands shaking an the Co-op logo

Turning learnings into policy

We’ll look at and analyse the feedback we got from the survey more closely to pick up more themes. But the conversation around whether we use and share member data, and how we do it, isn’t closed now. We’re still listening to your thoughts on this. Over the next few months we will start to discuss improvements to our policies around data and, with a lot more information and discussion start to make those policies real.

Tell us what you think

We’re holding an event Shaping our Co-op: Data trust and transparency event at Federation House on Friday 19 May, 5:15 to 7:30pm. You can register for tickets.

We’d like to speak to members regardless of how much you know about how your data is and can be used, as well as people with an interest in data consent. The only prerequisite is that you have an interest in doing the right thing for members.

Rob McKendrick
Head of Data Engineering

Steve Foreshew-Cain: paying £9 million to local causes and hosting our first digital operations show and tell

Steve: Hello and welcome to the weekly Digital update. Now the eagle-eyed amongst you will recognise that I’m not Mike Bracken but given that I have shaved my beard off for Easter this week you might also not recognise who I am. So, I’m Steve Foreshew-Cain and I’m the Chief Operating Officer for the Digital group.

As is the tradition in these updates we start with a big number and it’s important big number this week because this week marked the day that we gave away £9 million to our community local causes nominated by our members.

And there’s another big number associated with membership this week which is that we have welcomed 800,000 new members to the Co-op since we launched our renewed membership proposition. An impressive achievement by any standard.

The other important thing to call out for those of you who are interested in the community work that we do is an opportunity to get directly involved in that by joining as a Member Pioneer. The deadline for that, to sign up, for that is the 26th of this month so less than a week away, but if you’re a colleague or if you’re a member of the Co-op you still have an opportunity to join that important work.

Another important activity this week was the first of our digital operations show and tells where we talked about platforms, we talked about service management and we talked about security and how those capabilities form a part of the digital services that we deliver and we operate.

And as is also traditional in our weekly update we say a big hello to new members of the Digital Team to a big shout out to Ian Thomas and Michael Davis who’ve joined our data team and a big hello to Debbie Roycroft who’s joined as a software engineer in our digital engineering practice.

And of those of you who are watching this because you’re interested in the work that we’re doing here at the Co-op as ever the opportunity to come and join us exists so please look at all of the opportunities that we have out there and get in contact.

Steve Foreshew-Cain
Digital Chief Operating Officer

Mike Bracken: our progress with platforms and a reminder to choose a local cause


Mike: Hello. Week 12 update from Co-op Digital.

Quick update this week. We’ve passed 700,000 new members and another big date coming from Membership. 8th of April is the date that we have got to get all our members to select their cause. If you haven’t done so already the 1% that’s the amount that goes to you from your transactions is allocated to your selected cause. We’ve got thousands of causes up and down the country, please do pick your community cause and allocate your funds to them by the 8th of April.

Big win this week for our platforms. One of the first things we’ve done is a location service. We started off in our Food business getting that working for all our stores, that’s now live in Funeralcare and we’re mainstreaming all our services, our platform services, location the first one really well done to that team.

And a big bit of PR of this week. In the week of Brexit, Claire Braithwaite who’s leading our ventures play was on the first plane to leave Manchester to San Francisco. A new direct link it from Manchester here, and she was on part of that trade mission to develop the digital business connections between the 2 cities. It was great to see her go it’ll be great to see her come back and we wish her well.

I’m off next week and this will be brought to you by Rufus who’ll give you an update on Membership.

Have a good Easter.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer

If you’re a Co-op member and haven’t chosen your local cause yet, sign in online to choose where your 1% goes by 8 April.

Immediate changes in Membership reporting lines

As we develop our membership services proposition across the Group, and now we’ve welcomed Roberto Hortal into the Group as Director of Membership Products and Services, Nathan Warner will step into the role of Interim Head of Membership Proposition, reporting to Roberto.

Working closely with the members leaders groups, Nathan and Roberto will be responsible for developing our member proposition and will immediately focus on our operations and financial plan for 2017, concentrating on membership service delivery and implementation.

Rufus has a huge responsibility in the next few months: to represent our Membership proposition externally to our Council and FRTS. Along with owning and delivering our Community strategy including Co-op Campaigns, Partnerships and Ethical Trading positions and internal and external communications.

Roberto, Nathan and Rufus continue to work as part of the central Digital team.

Mike Bracken
Chief Digital Officer