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Understanding the experience of owning a home

Contextual inquiry notes and tools


PROJECT: Customer experience research and insights

ROLE: Customer experience consultant at CXCO

TIME: 4 months, 2015

CXCO was engaged by ING Direct to understand the current experience, needs and drivers of people when seeking, applying and holding a mortgage. This qualitative research would seek to inform the future state experience strategy of ING Direct's digital mortgage experience.

Research and synthesis

I worked together with our Design Lead to run contextual inquiries by:

  • Compiling a research guide

  • Creating an activity sheet for participants to complete prior meeting

  • Creating a post-it note exercise to run during the session

  • Note taking, photos, asking additional questions

  • Debriefing after each session

  • A one page visual summary of each participant

Contextual inquiry notes and tools

We dove into affinity mapping, to critically analyse and empathise with the stories we had collected. My colleague worked towards a findings and insights report, while I focused on a current state customer experience journey. I extracted touchpoints, tasks, needs, breakpoints, positives and interesting quotes from the data. These were organised into stages and goals to structure the journey.

I paid particular attention to the different behaviours shown towards similar tasks, and worked with colleagues to develop 'profiles' to group and explain these behaviours. I took a step back from the point a participant engaged with a mortgage provider, to understand the first moment which leads people to require a mortgage to achieve their goals.

Building an experience journey

To update the client, we delivered a walk-through of the journey to stakeholders and various representatives of the company, such as digital. As a co-presenter, I focused on relaying stories of the study participants. This showed how certain journey stages were experienced, and how each journey taken differed depending on the person's current situation, past experiences, needs and drivers. Although the journey is presented in a linear manner, people will exit and re-enter, become stagnant or skip certain stages. The client later informed us the participant's stories were positively received.

Customer journey data presented at a client workshop

Final deliverable

At the final presentation to various stakeholders and staff, I walked through the final customer journey highlighting important pain points, positive points and different approaches to certain tasks. I later received feedback that the tasks allocated to certain profiles were valuable in designing the future state.

In reflection, I consider it important to be able to view a customer journey at a high level for the overall strategy, and also in details to ensure a customer's needs are met at each touchpoint. Different staff across the company will refer to the journey document. It is important to consider how the information could be easily accessible and understandable to design customer-centric products and services.

Approaching contextual inquiries, it is beneficial to expect the unexpected and be guided by the participant's stories. Be present and treasure the opportunity to share in the experiences of everyday people.

At a later date, I worked with the team at CXCO to deliver a second project for ING Direct about the experience of financial advisors.

Customer journey workshop for a later project

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