A Consolidated Experience for Users
The subject of this case study is a leading company in the digital signage content management software where I work as a full-time product designer.
A digital signage content management system is the centerpiece and most important part of any digital signage software. It serves for the customization, scheduling, monitoring, and deployment of content to remotely managed displays.
Following the release of a new content management platform, the company assumed that the vast majority of users would migrate in less than 12 months. However, after more than three years of the rollout, 20% of the users still used the old platform.
Maintaining both platforms was raising the costs of testing and training support staff. This had also become a bottleneck for new changes urgently needed.
It was essential to deploy a solution focused on the user needs and behaviors in alignment with the current business capabilities. While minimizing the negative impact of the transition that could lead to higher churn rates.
Moving from one CMS to another is extraordinarily complicated, as users tend to invest time and effort into creating the content and learning the workflows involved, the negative impact of the transition could lead to higher churn rates.
A research was needed to understand the reasons preventing the users of the old platform from migrating. The results would also equip the business with insights to make decisions around this obstacle.
Practicing outcome driven design and jobs-to-be-done to reveal user needs and reduce the risk of churn.
Tools and Process for Ideation
To understand the main reasons preventing users from moving to the new platform and what could be done to help them transition, we gathered data from users that had been active during the last 30 days and divided them into segments based on their usage behavior.
Understanding their behavior would provide the company with insights on how the product currently met the needs of each of these segments and how we could help them progress towards their ideal outcomes.
When exploring user behavior, it is essential to focus on the most valuable users. Ideally, the most active users will also be most valuable, but that is not always the case. When proposing changes that affect a significant number of users, it is indispensable to focus on the ones that provide the most value to avoid increases in churn and alienation of the user base.
The Business Desired Outcomes
A successful strategy needs strong internal support. The business outcomes were determined by interviewing four critical people involved in the implementation.
Business desired outcomes by team:
- Development: Minimize the development effort required by optimizing the solution for reuse of existing code.
- Support: Minimize the time spent servicing old platform users by having a self-serve solution they could link to.
- Marketing: Minimize the impact of messages and communications related to the old platform by optimizing segmentation to the affected users only.
- Growth: Minimize the risk of churn for affected users by providing a way to monitor their metrics in real-time.
The User Desired Outcomes
Investigating users that have extreme usage patterns helps to amplify the needs and reveal the workarounds that most often are not evident in average users.
The data analysis showed that users on the old platform were updating presentations more often, while those on the new were updating schedules instead. However, data could not explain why they were choosing one over the other.
To resolve the above problem, a Jobs-to-be-done interview was conducted.
Jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) is a framework based on the idea that whenever users “hire” (i.e., use) a product, they do it for a specific “job” (i.e., to achieve a particular outcome) (Page Laubheimer 2017).
Customer desired outcomes:
- Minimize the effort needed to keep presentations up-to-date.
- Minimize the number of steps required to maintain a schedule updated.
- Minimize the risk of errors when updating a schedule.
- Minimize the impact of errors when updating a schedule.
We revealed strong needs for up-to-date content on this segment, and a deprecated web gadget that was solving this need by bringing content from other sources into presentations. Setting this up again was complicated, as the in the majority of cases the person in charge of updates was not of a technical background and had this set up for them.
We were surprised to find, that users that favored presentation update overs schedule management did it because they had to get approval from others, and presentation editor had built-in functionality for revisions, undo and publish, which schedules did not. Changes made to a schedule were going live instantly, and there was no way to undo.
We also discovered that for the low usage group it was better to focus on making them aware that there is a new platform in the first place. Some of those users will need to learn why choosing the new platform is the better option to solve their needs by being introduced to supplemental products or services the company offers through the new platform.
Implementation and Results
Based on the research, the following action plan was defined, this plan would cover both business and customer needs.
As a result of this work, I also led the charge to develop a process for reporting on our churn risk, for any product change that impacted a large number of our customers. We were not tracking the data in a single place, so I manually put together data from various sources and came up with a process to identify high churn risk users.