Process: Service Design
Who: financial services company
What: service design / experience sketching
When: December 2015

This project came to us from a financial services company, but due to the work’s confidential nature, I will be describing this project in terms of the overarching processes and methodologies my team and I employed. This company asked us to redesign their life insurance account opening process to attract more life insurance agents and align workstreams.

These goals were based off of several key insights made by the company, which described a system with many duplicative processes, and a lack of understanding of emerging agent demographics. This was a very complex system with many possible areas of improvement. It became clear that the coordination all the touchpoints of the service would take priority over their execution. As such, my team and I used tools and methods that would provide a holistic vision for a future state version of the service.

My roles in this project included preliminary research, persona generation, workshop preparation, and experience storyboarding.

Service Design: 01 - Agent of the Future
Service Design: 01 - Agent of the Future

The client provided us with third party reports on customer demographics that life insurance agents interact with, as well as first hand customer interviews. Although our primary focus during this project was the agent, knowing the expectations and behaviors of their customers rounded out our understanding of an agent’s work life.

More reports on agent demographics and interviews with agents created a full picture of what characteristics current agents embody. Using this knowledge, we inferred who the agent of the future would be, in terms of their client interfacing behaviors, usage of technology, and ethnographic background. We presented these findings in the form of persona sheets.

Service Design: 02 - Journey Map
Service Design: 02 - Journey Map

After establishing a high level understanding of how life insurance agents conduct their business, we shifted our attention to the process of buying life insurance as a whole.

A service blueprint captures all of the key stages of a service across front and backstage platforms. In contrast, a journey map focuses on a customer’s experience as they move through the different touchpoints of a service. Using both would provide a clear view of the service, while retaining an emphasis on the interactions between customers and agents, and touch points that warrant design intervention. These methods are described in greater detail at Cooper.

My team and I filled out these diagrams as best we could, but we’re not experts on life insurance; our clients are. That’s why we structured a workshop around this service journey map where a large group of clients filled copies of them out with post-its and annotations.

To generate a broader set of responses, we divided the participants of the workshop into 5 groups and gave them different prompts. The prompts included situations where speed and efficiency was the highest priority, the agent was new and inexperienced, the customer was high maintenance, etc.

The unique interpretations of the journey generated from the prompts led to intergroup discussions and collaboration, as well as a broader set of data we could base our final journey map on.

Service Design: 03 - Storyboarding
Service Design: 03 - Storyboarding

Creating a final, future state version of the journey map wasn’t difficult after compiling the comprehensive results from the workshop. However, the journey map was dense with information and spanned seven feet long; we needed a more easily digestible form of this journey. This took the form of annotated storyboards.

The style of illustration used in this first draft of storyboarding as well as the variation prompts was purposefully rough, blocky, and fast. This style afforded me the speed to keep up with the rapid iterations and edits of the journey we co created with the client.

After the initial version was approved by the client, I created more detailed storyboard illustrations that would be shared internally to describe the new vision of life insurance account opening.