A tale of two halves, user testing and lean UX for a Big 6 energy company’s product and sales divisions.
npower is a large and complex company with many customer touch points and potential areas for customer satisfaction to dip. We worked with them on two projects, firstly to help update their account management platform and secondly, to improve boiler care sales with a user centred design project.
This project happened when Adam was UX Director and consulting on behalf of at Natural Interaction, a UX agency in Bristol.
Adam worked on site with the client's project team conducting user research, UX design and running workshops in a hands on capacity.
Our first project with Big 6 energy supplier npower was to help update their underperforming account management platform. Customer satisfaction was low and as more and more users were accessing the site on their smartphones, it was alarmingly apparent that the tool was hard to use on mobile.
We began by performing an in depth review - including user testing and workshopping - of the online account management system and recommended improvements. From there, npower asked us to also to implement those improvements, to design a solution that would keep mobile and tablet users happy. At the same time we also worked to incorporate new features they’d already piloted with a previous IT platform, making this project an interesting challenge.
It was clear that Lean UX was the best way to run this project - working iteratively to constantly test and refine the designs. We rapidly wireframed, designed and prototyped created a high fidelity prototype and the platform, and then we tested, quickly and often, with current and prospective customers. The end result was a successful responsive web platform with a strong sales journey at its heart, delighting clients and customers and doubling sales.
We restructured content, wireframed pages and collaborated with a graphic designer to produce detailed designs, communicating with senior stakeholders throughout. The next step was usability testing, which led to further tweaks and improvements, and then finally we collaborated with the development team to thrash out how functionality was intended to work during implementation.
The changes we made resulted in some excellent stats - a 35% increase in mobile user satisfaction and a 50% increase in mobile users overall.
it was alarmingly apparent that the tool was hard to use.
Following the positive outcomes, npower almost immediately briefed us with another project, this time they needed a service to help new customers track their gas and electricity switches. They also wanted to boost cross-sales of non-energy products.
This project was already underway when we came onboard and we inherited existing user research and a vision for the finished service. But as we progressed, underlying complexities began to emerge. The industry was undergoing a seismic shift, caused by major regulatory changes and changing user behaviour, and the original plan for a desktop-optimized platform was rapidly becoming outdated by the the explosion in mobile browsing.
We came to a realisation - we needed to look towards the world of ecommerce if we were giong to create an integrated sales experience.
Electricity and Gas don't taste different depending on your provider. The key differentiators are price and customer experience.
It was time to stop and rethink. We came up with a proposal for a new approach, starting with mobile-first, responsive design and using rapid, iterative prototyping and frequent user testing to develop a service customers would actually use. Our key stakeholders at npower loved it and we got going. The work was split into three phases covering planning and conceptualisation, low fidelity prototyping and finally, high fidelity prototyping.
We collaborated with npower’s in-house designers to apply visuals to the high fidelity prototype and used a team of independent experts to carry out impartial user testing, feeding the results back into the design process until we were confident that what we’d built met user and business needs. The challenge here was to make sure our core vision and usability weren't sacrificed to aesthetics.
Once the prototype was complete, cross-device usability testing made sure the final version of the site worked seamlessly on all platforms. The new boiler care journey was a hit with users, substantially increasing conversion rates on the client’s website leaving npower with a clearly defined and empirically proven approach to selling online products and services that can be extended to other areas of their business.