Planning a one-week co-creation session to define the customer value proposition
My employer, a British multinational investment bank, had been successfully driving customer growth in Singapore but had yet to achieve its strategic aim of attracting customers from the younger segment (20-35 years old). The local team had been working to address this problem for a number of months, and they engaged our team to facilitate a co-creation workshop to help structure and synthesise all the inputs into a workable value proposition.
We had five days to prepare for the workshop, and we began by interviewing stakeholders and doing desk research. By utilising the Design Thinking Toolkit and structuring the five-day workshop to achieve key objectives, we were able to maximise the time together to create tangible outputs, including a prototype (which was required for a pitch to senior stakeholders for approval to move forward).
What we delivered
We delivered a spend / savings proposition inspired by customer needs (minimum loveable product, or a customer-centric MVP).
We also planned and facilitated a workshop at short notice to achieve the outcomes and exceed stakeholders' expectations.
Lastly, we instilled a sense of confidence in our sponsors and empowered them to drive the vision forward.
One of the teams in the Asia Pacific region was trying to capture additional market share by delivering a compelling mobile-centred banking experience, but they ran into challenges when shaping the customer value proposition. It lacked clarity and the scope was just too big to build a good business case. The milestone to decide whether the initiative would continue to get funding was just around the corner, and the team was not feeling confident.
Learning about our expertise, they asked for support to clearly shape the customer value proposition. The challenge was that we only had two weeks to do it, and they were in another country.
We started by drafting the terms and reference to set the scope of the engagement. Because of the time constraints, we decided to focus specifically on shaping the value proposition and not get involved in other activities. (e.g., building a business case, conducting additional research, etc.)
The core team was formed of 10 members: three business sponsors and two subject matter experts (on a need-only basis).
We used the first week to plan for the workshop, meet the stakeholders, and get up to date with the previous work.
Starting with the objectives, we designed a five-day workshop that included more than 13 methods, each of which would lead the team from a vision statement to a clear value proposition with a "pitch deck" that would secure funding.
Terms of reference
The terms of reference were and internal contract that helped us focus on the scope of the engagement.
We conducted desk research over the first five days to get up to date with the work that the local team had previously done and also get immersed in the available consumer insights.
When learning about the process that the team had previously followed, we were surprised to hear that the outcome of the work was not satisfactory. We found that the initial solution was lacking clarity and focus. The scope was too big, and there was no roadmap or breakdown of steps to follow. They did not obtain funding, therefore they decided to pivot and de-scope.
By the end of the first week, we were up to date and ready to start the workshop. We travelled over the weekend and started the activities first thing on Monday with a fun ice-breaker activity. This allowed us to "take the temperature" of the participants and understand their skills by asking them to state their super-power and their 'kryptonite'.
We then re-immersed the team in the available customer insights by using the "rose, bud and thorn" activity. The customer insights specialist presented the challenges and life aspirations of young consumers, and also the concepts and ideas on which the team had previously worked.
We asked participants to observe and document their findings in three categories:
- Rose: A consumer need that the company is currently solving in a good way.
- Bud: A consumer need that the company would not consider solving, but could prove to be an opportunity.
- Thorn: A consumer need that the company is currently solving, but not in a good way.
The activity ensured that participants were paying close attention to the customer insights. As in most cases, the "buds" were very useful for the activities that followed.
We then reviewed the quantitative surveys that the team had on hand and re-confirmed the consumer problem statement:
"Help me manage my money so that I can live today and plan tomorrow".
What we learned the week before was also re-confirmed by the team, and the problem with the previous work was not the quality but rather the lack of focus.
By doing desk research, we learned about the work that the team had previously done, and what we could re-use to fast-track the work.
We used the ice breaker as a fun method to assess the skills around the room. Each participant stated their superpower and 'kryptonite' in their work.
Rose, bud, and thorn
This method ensured that participants were immersed in the consumer insights, and the results informed subsequent activities.
Consumer problem statement
The structure of the consumer problem statement ensured that we precisely described what consumers were trying to achieve while also providing contextual clarifiers.
We started the definition phase by articulating the vision statement. We used the product vision canvas to reach consensus on the target group, consumer needs, products, and business goals. This helped us focus and stay on track. The team agreed on the following statement:
“Enable you to be the expert of your money today, and bring you closer to financial independence tomorrow.”
As a team we then reviewed the list of concepts and ideas from the previous work, and we mapped them on a solution prioritization matrix. We created four categories:
- Consumers need this solution; it would be something new and unexpected to have from a bank.
- Consumers need this solution but they would expect to have it from a bank.
- Consumers don't need this solution but it is something new and unexpected to have from a bank.
- Consumers don't need this solution, and they would expect to have it from a bank.
Aware of the current low market penetration, the team reached the conclusion that in order to stand out for consumers, the best strategy was to generate curiosity and intrigue among users.
Following a group discussion, the team voted to focus on the first quadrant. Through this method alone, we we were able to remove half of the solutions from the previous version.
To add further clarity before detailing a solution, we conducted an activity to define the design principles.
We observed that some of the principles were already mentioned in the rose-bud-thorn activity, and we had a group discussion to build upon that head start. By the end of the discussion, the list of design principles was:
- Human. Use plain language and speak using the consumer's language.
- Minimalist. Less is more, so keep things simple.
- Positive. Make sure you have the "feel-good factor" in there.
- Proactive. Give facts, but also suggestions.
Role: Lead facilitator
The precise vision statement set the direction and helped us focus only on what was needed to achieve the overall vision.
Solution prioritization matrix
The matrix was a method to classify and group existing solutions into individual clusters that were each relevant to various business strategies.
Role: Lead facilitator
The design principles informed the team's decisions in the solution phase to create a consistent and purposeful experience.
First, we documented the pains, gains, and jobs-to-be-done on a value proposition canvas using the consumer problem statement, the insights from the rose-bud-thorn activity, and the qualitative and quantitative studies that we had on hand.
We then reviewed the concept that the team had previously built and mapped out the "gain creators", the "pain relievers", and the features, selecting only the ones that were solving for the pains, gains, and jobs-to-be-done.
By this stage, almost 70% of the previous concept had been scrapped, and the remaining 30% was clearly meant to solve for the consumer problem statement that the team selected. We did not have many new concepts or ideas on the value proposition canvas, which was perfectly fine.
Some of the solutions that were most appreciated on the canvas were proposing savings goals, spending rules, and a personal finance manager.
With more focus on the problems at hand, we moved on to storyboarding, where each participant was asked to envision what the customer experience would look like and then report back to the group.
After one round of storyboarding and share-back, the participants were asked to evolve their concepts and repeat the process again. At this stage, there were no clear preferences around the room, so everyone was asked to dot-vote their favourite concept. It turned out that there was no one clear winner, so we had to pick and choose different parts from different storyboards and map them out on a journey map, which was the perfect segue into the next activity.
For journey mapping, we used a six-stage map (anticipate, evaluate, sign-up/buy, use, review and share) and ideated for each stage on what the customer does, thinks, feels, and touches (i.e., touch-points). We built upon the storyboards we already had and mapped out the chain of moments that would up the future customer experience. We focused on charting how the solutions would support the project's vision.
The team was thrilled at this stage and we were all aligned behind a shared understanding of how the solution would work and what the customer experience would be. The concept, named "Philix", would "help Millennials be the expert of their money today and financially carefree tomorrow by enabling the small steps that will snowball to achieve their ambition."
But we were far from over. For the next stages, we planned to divide and conquer by breaking up into three teams. One team would work on the prototype, one team would work on the business model canvas, and the other team would work on summarising everything into a pitch deck. We agreed to have scheduled review check-ins and then regroup at the end of the workshop.
I was assigned to the prototyping team together with a copywriter, and would use our most up-to-date output to visualise the customer experience through a digital prototype.
One of the primary objectives of this engagement was to obtain funding, so the prototype had to stand out and impress potential investors. Under these circumstances, the focus was less on usability and more on storytelling. In a good scenario, the prototype I was building would end up as a vision, but the team would need to go back to basics anyway.
I decided to break the process down into three steps:
- Review the journey map in detail, list and prioritise the features to be prototyped, and get agreement from the group.
- Build a very low-fidelity user flow and information architecture to get feedback and/or agreement from the group.
- Build a high-fidelity prototype for the end vision.
The approach was very effective, and most of the significant changes occurred at step two when it was still very easy to make changes. By the time we reached high fidelity, no more changes were necessary.
Below are some of the features that were part of final concept:
- Fast sign-up using by using the government ID database
- Financial feed for an ultra-personalised experience
- Virtual stashes to save for personal goals
- Saving rules and spending limits to help manage personal finance
- Spend reports with suggestions to optimise
As we were building the prototype, the other teams were working on the business model canvas to determine the cost structure and revenue streams. They were also seeking to clarify the key metrics to measure success, and more importantly, to articulate the unique value proposition. It soon became a single, clear, and compelling message:
“Philix helps you spend smarter, grow your savings, and get a clear view of both today and tomorrow”
Everything was built around four goals: grow savings, spend smarter, have a clear view of your transactions, and last but not least, have a delightful experience.
Customer value proposition
We used the value proposition canvas to create traceability between the existing solutions and the consumer needs and pain points.
Role: Lead facilitator
We used storyboarding to bridge the customer value proposition and journey mapping activities. This ensured that participants had a shared understanding of the customer experience.
Customer journey mapping
Role: Lead facilitator
We used the journey map as a tool to describe in detail how the solution would work. We filled in the gaps and mapped out the chain of moments that would make up the future customer experience.
The prototyping technique was adapted to the circumstances of the engagement, which helped us get maximum results with minimum effort by building high-fidelity mock-ups on low-fidelity user-flows.
Business model canvas
This method helped us tell a very good story about how the solution can be appealing to consumers while at the same time be commercially viable.
Show & Tell
Feeling tired but also very proud of what we had accomplished over the past five days, we announced to the business sponsors that we are ready for the milestone review.
We organised a Show & Tell and left as many artefacts as possible up on the walls, then we walked the sponsors through the process, detailing all the insights that inspired the solution.
We polished the storyboards, the prototype, and the copy to make it easier for the sponsors to picture what the final product would look like. We used InVision to make the experience seem authentic.
There were plenty of constructive challenges (which we documented to be addressed at a later stage), but the overall feedback was highly positive. The prototype walkthrough was probably the most enjoyable part of the presentation as it brought a fresh tone of voice and a new perspective to personal finances.
We could sense that we instilled a sense of confidence in our sponsors through our customer-focused workshop and empowered them to drive the vision forward.
After careful consideration, the business sponsors decided to fund the initiative, set up a team, and build a minimum viable product to de-risk the assumptions. A small win, but definitely crucial.
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