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Service Design: Discovery in a Traditional Insurance Company

We spent 2 days in a design workshop complete with post-it's and whiteboards.


A case study on Design Discovery focused on how customers can choose and select their insurance car repairers.


Sep 2018 - Dec 2018


Insurance Australia Group (IAG)

Design Discovery for an Online Insurance Car Repairer Selection Experience™️

This case study describes a project in which I co-led Design Discovery for a potential new online experience for IAG NZ car insurance customers. The project focused on exploring a new way for State (400,000) and AMI (500,000) customers to choose car insurance repairers during car claims.

Our process was based on the Double Diamond Design Process, developed by the British Design Council in 2005. We focused on the steps of Discover and Define. We started early-stage work in the Develop stage with plans to begin Deliver in later months. The key project delivery was a 2-day, 8-person design workshop, during which we created a Service Design Blueprint Map.

Discovery Project Core Team

  • Customer Experience Design Lead: Jason Crabtree
  • Customer Experience Design Manager: Ange Black
  • Project Delivery Manager: Will Stammers-Smith
  • Data and Product Manager: Rahul Singh

0. The Project Brief and Key Milestones

Project brief, team approach, goals and timelines.

The Design Challenge

The project team set out to improve how customers selected car repairers for claims lodged online. Previously, IAG customers who lodged online claims with IAG's main consumer brands (AMI and State) had to wait for IAG staff to call them back after they had lodged a claim.

In contrast, customers who lodged claims by phone-call could immediately choose a repairer during the initial phone conversation. This led to a worse, delayed experience for online customers. The project team focused on exploring a digital system for customers to choose a car repairer while lodging claims online.

Scope and Project Timeline

The project team aimed to complete the Define and Discover steps of the design process within 3 months.

Project Constraints

There were three main constraints for the project: Scale, Approach, and Organisational Prioritisation. These defined how we approached the problem, our results, and overall outcomes.

The most significant constraint was Scale. The Repairer Allocation Experience at the centre of this project has the potential to impact hundreds of IAG staff members, 800,000+ customers, 100+ panelbeater and Car Repair Workshops, and the daily work of 50+ IAG Motor Assessors.

The second constraint was Approach. This was the first time the team had created a Service Design Blueprint. Effective, flexible teamwork was essential as we learnt and applied this new design approach.

The final main constraint was Prioritisation. Like all large multi-national businesses, IAG has a never-ending number of priorities. This project had a limited number of staff assigned to complete the project, who had to continue working on business as usual responsibilities.

Key milestones achieved during the project

  1. Defined the core problem, and refined the project scope.
  2. Sent a Customer Research to survey 900 IAG customers, receiving a total of 350 responses and a mix of qualitative and quantitative data.
  3. Built understanding and mapped the existing, current processes by working with Subject Matter Experts across IAG.
  4. Built the foundations of a Service Design Blueprint Map during a 2-day Service Design workshop.
  5. Finished the Service Design Blueprint recording the experiences of Customers, Claims Staff, Repairers and Assessors.
  6. Collaborated with the Australian IAG office to learn about their experiences designing a similar process.
  7. Documented the technical systems and requirements involved with the Lead Software Architect.
  8. Identified pain points, metrics and signs of success within the repairer allocation process, then grouped these into core design principles.
  9. Developed three guiding Design Principles, combining lessons from the Design Workshop, the Service Design Blueprint and Customer Research.
  10. Created a prioritised list of ideas; then themed and ranked the solutions by impact, difficulty, cost and value.
  11. Presented the ranked recommendations to the Senior Leadership Team to obtain an endorsement for the next steps of execution.

1. Discovery

Research, data-gathering, talking to people and gaining insight into the design problem.

The project started with data and research. A lot of the early focus on the project was figuring out what we knew, what we knew what we didn't know, and what we didn't know we didn't know.

We overcame these challenges by talking to as many people as we could and re-visiting early assumptions frequently. This was especially relevant as some early expectations and assumptions were wrong, particularly our knowledge of the customer-facing team processes.

After gathering as much information as possible we started synthesising and recording key insights. The key outputs were a stakeholder map, a technical-system map, and summaries of the key research results.

We identified the key stakeholder groups involved in the process.

Gathering Research and Data

Before our design workshop, the project team gathered customer and staff research. This helped us understand the different pain points and important considerations of customers and staff. We also ran a qualitative survey completed by ~350 customers, with plans to run further face-to-face customer interviews as the project progressed into solution design.

We used existing research as well as running a project-specific customer survey.

Identifying System and Technology Considerations

As well as identifying the impacted stakeholder groups, the project team examined the different technical systems currently in use, both internally and externally.

Each system and system-connection had to be documented, understood, and considered.

2. Define

Synthesising, processing and attempting to understand all of the information at hand to identify the areas to focus on.

The Discover step involved a wide exploration followed by deep-focus. During the Define phase, our primary goal was understanding the information gathered. To achieve this, the project team ran a 2-day immersive workshop. This workshop brought together 8 subject matter experts from the key stakeholder groups involved in the repairer allocation process. In this workshop, we analysed our customer research results, identified pain and delight points and started building a service design blueprint.

Mapping the Current State Customer Flow

Before the design workshop we identifying the most common happy path experienced by customers. An immediate pain-point we identified was that customers who lodged their claims online experienced extra steps above and beyond phone-call claim lodgements.

The most common happy path for customers. Identified before our workshop to inform the eventual service design blueprint map.

Service Blueprint Presentation Tool

Our completed service design blueprint mapped the four key stakeholder groups and noted where each group interacted. We then mapped potential pain points and where problems with the happy path could occur. This map was a great tool for presenting to stakeholders and build organisational support.

Using the information discovered we started our service blueprint. This mapped the four key stakeholder group.

Identifying Customer Partner and Employee Pain and Delight Points

With the service design blueprint and customer research, we identified key pain and delight points. This included the themes with the highest impact on customers, IAG’s employees and IAG’s partners. These themes let us create guiding design principles, which in turn helped us balance competing priorities, constraints and needs while proposing solutions to test and prototype.

We identified key pain and delight points based on each impacted stakeholder group.

3. Develop

Brainstorming ideas, solutions and concepts to address the pain points identified during the discovery and define process steps.

After completing the service design blueprint, the project team presented to relevant teams across IAG. A key focus was the three guiding Design Principles. These principles helped the project team tell a compelling story to senior and impacted stakeholders. Simultaneously, the principles helped unify the project team with a common direction and goal.

We then began exploring potential solutions that fit within our design principles, constraints and goals. The initial list of ideas and concepts was then grouped into core ideas, ready to be progressed and delivered. Refining these ideas was my last contribution to this project before leaving IAG in January 2019.

Defining Guiding Design Principles

The guiding Design Principles were created by combining everything the project team had learnt into unified statements. During our design workshop, we identified approximately 75 pain and delight points. These pain and delight points were grouped into six high-level themes, then refined to the final principles. This approach was very successful. When we presented the principles to different stakeholder groups, each group quickly saw their perspective had been included.

Each Design Principle aligns to a different stakeholder group. This was unplanned, but endorses the overall process we used to create these principles.

Brainstorming and Analysing Ideas; a Pragmatic Approach

We brainstormed ideas by bringing together the initial workshop participants and running silent brainstorming sessions for ten minutes, following by group discussion focused on each Design Principle. I then grouped similar ideas into different categories to be progressed.

Our core ideas; improve old processes, modernise technology systems, and invest in supporting IAG staff and repairer partners.

4. Outcomes and Results

Our goal for this project was to build an understanding of the repairer allocation process, and consider how that process differed for online vs. phone customers.

We achieved this goal by building a Service Design Blueprint, later summarized and presented into three Design Principles. The project was a cross-team, collaborative effort, heavily utilising customer research and pushing collective IAG comfort zones.

The Completed Service Design Blueprint Map

The service design map we created was the foundation of this entire project. With it, we took information, data, insights and knowledge from across IAG and combined everything in such a way that helped us understand exactly what our customers and staff cared about.

Stakeholder Inclusion

One of the most impactful things the project team did was prioritise time, energy and social capital to include different stakeholders groups from across IAG. This was important because in the past IAG has operated with different business units heavily siloed from one another.

In addition to including different groups of IAG in the process, we also prioritised providing regular status updates, including periodic mini-presentations to ~30+ impacted people. These regular presentations and updates helped keep everyone up to date, create buy-in and bring stakeholders through the project change journey.

Key Outcomes

  1. Design Principles
  2. Service Design Blueprint Map
  3. PowerPoint Pack summarising work-to-date
  4. Customer Research Results
  5. Research questions to investigate next steps
  6. Organisational and Cultural Change

Next Steps

This case study describes work that was completed from September to December 2018. My final contribution was handing the project to the newly hired Service Designer, Amy Sekhon Cunliffe. Amy was employed to run the final stages of Develop and Deliver into 2019.

The initial plans for 2019 focused on face-to-face customer interviews based on our initial concepts, bringing on a tech lead to the core project team, and implementing quick wins and fixes we had identified.

Project and Personal Lessons

This 3-month project was one of the most challenging, and rewarding periods of my career to date. As the CX Design Lead for the project, I was directly accountable for progressing the Customer Experience Design aspects of the project. While I'd previously participated in similar work, I hadn't been the nominated lead. Overall, I'm proud to have worked alongside the great team who contributed to this massive project.

Biggest Lessons as project Customer Experience Design Lead

  1. Progress starts when you start, even if you aren't sure what you're doing, just getting started is crucial.
  2. Trust your team, and make sure you check in with each other frequently. Stay on the same page and clarify assumptions.
  3. Stick to convictions during uncomfortable conversations. In this case, I disagreed with the approach to customer research and didn't raise my disagreement in the right way.

This was the final project I completed at IAG over four years. It was a great experience that taught me a whole lot, especially about how I cope with pressure 😅 something we all need to learn!

Wrapping Up

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