Southern Water Services

Payment and meter reading journey

Client: Southern Waters
Date: from Aug 2022 to Feb 2023

01. The project and my role

It was crucial to get feedback from the beta users and iterate on the product. I took the challenges to work on the product to improve the current beta application. I used different research methods such as User testing, Interviews, Guerrilla research, Evaluating competitor services, Google analytics funnels to gather beta user feedback. I planned and facilitated the workshops to help the team to understand the user needs and prioritise the enhancements for the application.

02. Discovery Research

After conducting stakeholder interviews to comprehend their expectations and project goals, I initiated the discovery research phase in collaboration with a seasoned Business Analyst and a subject matter expert (SME).

The SME provided valuable insights into the extensive history of the Southern Waters application, highlighting its strengths and weaknesses. We also reviewed our current analytics with the Product Owner. Subsequently, I conducted listening tours with Business Analysts, Customer service team and Consultants to acquire a deeper understanding of the existing product. Simultaneously, we conducted a comprehensive competitive analysis of our external rivals.

Navigating the complexity of this stage involved swiftly grasping a convoluted journey and comprehending intricate payment and meter reading processes. However, this aligns with my strengths as a product designer, and I gained substantial insights through internal interviews and listening tours.

03. User interviews

I led the discovery phase and conducted open-ended interviews and field studies alongside the Business Analyst.

Our research objective was to gain insights into the current pain points within the user journey, particularly regarding payment and meter record processes. To ensure our approach was unbiased, we opted for open-ended discovery interviews, aiming to uncover the root causes of these challenges.

Through these discovery interviews, we identified roadblocks and identified gaps in features that were causing users to drop off the journey and resort to calling customer service for payments.

The research served as the foundation for all subsequent work and played a pivotal role in reshaping our product strategy, ultimately leading to a significantly improved payment experience for our users.

04. Insights and Presentation

We faced the significant challenge of conveying the extensive qualitative user data to both stakeholders and our teams in a comprehensible manner. To address this, I developed an experience map that served as a visual tool to communicate the key research findings effectively. This approach simplified the process of highlighting issues and revealing the underlying user needs to stakeholders.

Prior to sharing the complete experience map, it was crucial to involve the stakeholders in the research findings and gather their insights. This engagement helped us understand their perspective on how we were either supporting or falling short in facilitating user behaviors. As a cohesive team, we could then pinpoint potential improvements and assess which ones were viable to pursue further.
Navigating the complexity of this stage involved swiftly grasping a convoluted journey and comprehending intricate payment and meter reading processes. However, this aligns with my strengths as a product designer, and I gained substantial insights through internal interviews and listening tours.

05. Product Strategy / Workshops

Ultimately, we opted to pivot the product strategy. Given the fundamental role of the payment process in the company’s revenue generation, it was imperative to ensure a seamless transition to the new solution. As a result, we embarked on a journey to redesign the user experience based on the specific needs of the company and aimed to deliver the best possible customer experience.

Following the definition of user needs and pain points, I coordinated a series of feature prioritisation workshops involving the Product Owner, Business Analyst, and Subject Matter Expert. Given the substantial scope of the project and the multitude of user needs and features within the journey, prioritisation was essential. We focused on aligning features with user needs and overarching business goals to expedite the delivery of the Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

To assist the Product Owner, we collaboratively developed a five-stage product strategy, breaking down the project into manageable phases.

The research served as the foundation for all subsequent work and played a pivotal role in reshaping our product strategy, ultimately leading to a significantly improved payment experience for our users.

06. Accessibility / UI Patterns

I developed a collection of components for a design system, drawing inspiration from the brand guidelines provided by the marketing department. In addition, I incorporated accessibility features into the design system, recognising its crucial significance for the project.

By integrating accessibility principles directly into the components, we not only assisted designers and developers but also facilitated the learning process for individuals who may not have been previously familiar with accessibility considerations.

This foundational approach ensured that high-fidelity visuals could be crafted effortlessly without sacrificing accessibility standards.

07. Visual designs

I conducted numerous prototype testing and usability testing sessions for each user journey, implementing design iterations before progressing to the development phase of each stage.
In the prototype design testing sessions, our aim was to validate key assumptions that would shape our product strategy. Before delving into more detailed design work, we needed assurance that we were heading in the right direction.

The research served as the foundation for all subsequent work and played a pivotal role in reshaping our product strategy, ultimately leading to a significantly improved payment experience for our users.

08. Prototype and Usability testing

For usability testing, our goal was to identify potential usability issues to ensure the user experience was straightforward. We sought to determine whether users required specific assistance to complete their tasks effectively.

Our Product Owner recruited targeted users for these sessions, which were typically conducted remotely. In remote sessions, we shared screens and granted control to users, while I designed the testing sessions and tasks. During these sessions, I observed many challenges users encountered in accomplishing their intended tasks.

Outcomes: Conversion rate – Increased, Support calls – Decreased, Time on task – Decreased, Error rate – Decreased.

I employed the UsabilityHub tool to record user interactions and analyze results using heatmaps and usability assessments.

Design iterations were driven by the feedback gathered from user testing and design critique sessions. Users expressed a keen interest in exploring the details of their bills and payments, including the calculation methods.
One noteworthy finding from our testing was that the volume of mandatory fields and details was overwhelming, prompting us to prioritize optional information or pre-populate known data, enhancing the overall user experience.

Countless meticulously considered design details were incorporated to ensure a delightful experience for users.

Summary and Learnings

This project has been a substantial learning experience for me, helping me cultivate a diverse range of skills. I more honed my abilities in product strategy development, stakeholder management, leadership, cross-functional collaboration, facilitating workshops, leading working groups, and using new ways of creating design systems.

Navigating a complex undertaking, presented numerous challenges. Working closely with the Business Analyst and Product Owner, we tackled these challenges collaboratively. One of the most significant hurdles was shifting my perspective from a singular focus to a broader, high-level view of the project. As a team, we all played a part in building a unified product, and design critiques proved to be an invaluable method for ensuring consistency across the entire product.

Client: Southern Waters
Date: from Aug 2022 to Feb 2023
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