Research at CYB - Part 3

Research at CYB: using user segments to design tailored hypotheses (part 3)

In the final part of our series, Katie John, CYB’s Head of Research, writes about how being able to design tailored hypothesis leads to improved services
Picture of Katie

Katie John

Head of Research

25 May 2023

Previously in this series on user research at Caution Your Blast Ltd (CYB), we’ve written about how building data capability allowed us to create data validated user segments to give the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) a detailed understanding of the users of their Emergency Travel Document (ETD) services. 

In this final blog, we’ll share how we used those insights to create tailored hypotheses for our user segments, allowing us to make crucial evidenced based decisions on how to improve the ETD service.

Recapping the problem for the solo travellers 

To further understand solo travellers needs for transparency around their application we used a Point of View statement:

"Luke was in Morocco on honeymoon when he had his bag snatched. It contained his wallet and passport. Luke needed to understand when he would get his ETD because he had a flight booked in 2 days time. Luke would chase the progress of his application by ringing the ETD centre. Luke was extremely anxious and unsure whether he should change his flight and extend his stay at the hotel - he’s unsure when he will have the document in his hands, so is seeking a lot of reassurance from the FCDO."

Because solo traveller applications were the most straightforward to process, over 90% of these users were not contacted with any follow-up requests for information or documents. In some situations solo travellers would hear nothing about their application for 24 hours or more. In such a stressful situation, you can understand why people would seek reassurance from a human. This meant that the contact centre would receive large volumes of calls, with people chasing the progress of their application, despite their application processing as normal. 

With this in mind, we wanted to reduce the volume of solo travellers calling the contact centre chasing their application. Combining what we know about solo travellers and the problems they faced, we came up with two hypotheses to solve the chasing calls problem:

  1. Providing text updates of application process

  2. Automatically allocating collection time and dates

Providing text updates of application process

We believed that we could reduce the number of chasing application calls from 130 calls a week if solo travellers could receive text updates of how their application is progressing.

While providing text updates would also benefit other user segments, we believed that regular communications would benefit solo travellers most. 

To trigger the messages, we mapped the back end ETD centre processes, to understand logical places where an update could be provided. From this work we decided people would receive 3 messages updating them on the progress of their ETD application. 

ETD graphic 2

 We thought this solution would enable FCDO to meet the user needs in a modern digital environment, while ensuring value for money for the taxpayer. The team discussed and explored concepts like seen within delivery companies - think DHL - where users receive swanky visualisations of where their orders are in the process, however this would be a costly solution that would not deliver any additional value above what text messages can provide.

This solution is being launched as we write. To measure the impact of this solution we will be monitoring things like call centre volumes and survey responses. Once we know more about the results of this experiment we will provide more updates. 

Automatically allocating collection time and dates

Although we believe text updates will go some way in solving the problem, we felt there was more we could do. We were particularly interested in the element of certainty that users require, for example: 

“Luke was extremely anxious and unsure whether he should change his flight and extend his stay at the hotel - he’s unsure when he will have the document in his hands…"

We wanted to bring the reassurance of when a user could expect the document in their hand earlier in the process. 

We found by creating and analysing ETD centre service blueprints that users are unable to book an appointment to pick up their ETD until after their application had been approved - this could be a wait of up to 48 hours or more for a user. This wait, again, was particularly painful for solo travellers, as they would hear nothing during this time.

To solve this problem we proposed that we could reduce the number of chasing application calls from 130 calls a week if solo travellers automatically booked and offered the next available pick up time slot (3 days ahead minimum), after applicants have paid for their ETD.

ETD graphic 1

Analysing the elapsed time between application submission and application approval, we were able to confidently say 90% of straightforward users get their ETD approved in 2 days. With the additional improvements we are making to the ETD journey, we are confident that this number will increase - and further de-risking our hypotheses. 

This simple solution means that solo travellers will be given the reassurance that their ETD will be in their hands within 3 days time. This gives them crucial information that allows them to plan or make alternative travel arrangements if necessary.

Despite our initial confidence that this would be a neat and inexpensive solution, our team members at FCDO were concerned about any potential negative impacts of automatically allocating appointments. As we work collaboratively with our FCDO colleagues, we took this feedback on board. We agreed to implement other changes to the ETD service and explore this solution further, once we had monitored the efficacy of other solutions. 

Continuing to tailor hypotheses

Having done the groundwork to identify the user segments, and now created tailored solutions for these user groups, we can continue to use the approach to tackle more problems with the ETD journey. We know, for instance, that family travellers face specific challenges when completing an ETD online. Through this approach we can design, implement and measure solutions that meet their unique needs. 

If you’d like to discuss anything you’ve read in this series, then please do get in touch - we’d love to hear from you! 

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