Every once in a while, a project comes along that really allows you to create a massive change. It’s rare. There has to be bold leadership on the client’s side, hunger for change, dissatisfaction with what they currently have, and the desire to burn it all down and start from scratch. We hit the jackpot.
Over 42 weeks, more than 1,000 process variants and a potential £1.1bn of new digital product revenue, I helped to define, design and validate an entirely new health insurance product, set of digital services, and create the start of a design system that could support tremendous feature growth in subsequent phases.
During this two-year programme, I played a few different roles. During the strategy phase, my role was to support the creation of the business's futurestate experience maps – a set of posters created to display the business's ambitions in its entirety. This meant an abundance of current and futurestate process mapping, customer and stakeholder interviews, and a monster amount of synthesis to reach the final version.
During the design phase of the program, I led a stream of work with a team of core stakeholders to define the digital experience of how people manage their health insurance plan. This was the dirty work a hands-on service designer loves: plotting the processes, creating the wireframes, prototypes, user stories, and ultimately the template for the first build of the new product.
Towards the back-end of the program, my role was to support the growing client-side design team in the roll-out of the initial builds of the product. This involved supporting the creation of an entirely new design language and initial design system for them to take and continuously evolve. I feel incredibly fortunate to have experienced a program of change at such a scale. Working closely with hundreds of stakeholders, all remotely, is an experience I won't forget anytime soon.
Version 1 of this project will be live in Q2 2023.
Insurance carries some complex assumptions. It's the only product that penalises you for using it. It's one of the few products that routinely punishes loyal customers. It’s also only useful when something bad happens, but it's of no value when things go well. Couple this with an economic backdrop of rising insurtech investments and our client was approaching the cliff-edge, fast.
It sounded dire, but really, the situation meant that there was an abundance of untapped commercial potential that the market had yet to realise. This is where our relationship struck gold as we embarked on our mission to put our clients' existing business... out of business and future-proof it for the coming decade.
From the very beginning, we set out to achieve some straightforward strategic and commercial objectives. Together, we wanted to build a new type of insurance product system: an abstracted product model that separates what is available from how it is packaged and sold to customers, ensuring full flexibility in future product offers. We also wanted to ensure that the organisation maintained and improved their customer value, satisfaction, and retention rates to be the highest in the market.
The value of a vision, visualised
This was a broad, complex project from start to finish. It required multiple modes of thinking and required you to consider different contexts at every turn. That is why I believe that the most impactful part of the programme early on was the creation of five futurestate experience maps that illustrated how a digital-first business strategy would enable a radical transformation in the way our client conducts its business.
Each was an illustrative representation of how the experience would be transformed for key user groups, highlighting new capabilities required to support the target futurestate. They were the vision for everyone to align behind.
My role in the creation of these experience maps was to lead the development of the current and futurestate process maps behind the current and target features. This was integral to the success of these experience maps, as they became the foundational knowledge for what was and what was not possible to create based on our clients' current state and potential technology architecture.
These process maps were created over 6 weeks and some ~40 in-depth stakeholder interviews to understand everything from how customer calls were logged to how a customer's address was changed. Over this 6 week stint I held frequent workshops with the Insight team at Wilson Fletcher to combine the behind-the-scenes knowledge of processes with the ongoing customer research initiatives to collaboratively map out what our clients' future-state experience could be. This work formed the basis and rationale of the experience maps visualised above.
Designing from the ground up
Fast-forward into the second year of this transformation programme and I was leading a stream of work to define the digital experience of how people manage their health insurance plan. It sounds mundane but due to the nature of an abstracted product model and our ambition for customers to effectively ‘change’ components of their plan mid-term, we were dealing with the design of some very new concepts in the insurance world.
Fundamentally, our brief was to create a way for customers to access and manage their (and their families) insurance subscription and benefits.
This process was centred by insights generated during the strategy phase of the programme uncovering the fact that customers often misunderstood or couldn't find what they were covered for under their insurance in the first place. It led us to ensuring the accessibility and visibility of a customer's insurance product and benefits before anything else. The final designs focused on giving customers the appropriate level of context at every level of their plan details – getting more detailed as they delved deeper and wanted to know more.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle to designing this experience was aligning how customers were able to make mid-term adjustments with the technology, underwriters and legal teams. To unlock the complexity of this challenge, I facilitated a series of co-design sessions with stakeholders from each team to visually create the process maps required to define the customer experience – basically, letting them do the hard work whilst I asked questions and mapped out their answers as an experience.
It provided some fascinating insights into the intricacies of underwriting, and ultimately refined our understanding of the internal challenges our client would have to deliver this part of the experience. This directly resulted in us delivering a digital experience for customers that was easy to use for them and compatible with our client's future internal processes.
The sheer scale of this program was insane. I'm immensely proud of everything that we achieved and created over this two-year period. Knowing I played a small part in such a radical re-imagining of our clients' digital services will sit well with me for a long time. This program came to a close once we had delivered an all-new digital product proposition, an all-new customer experience for individual, business, and intermediaries audiences, and an all-new cross-device design system to equip our clients' growing design and development teams for the future.
Version 1 of this project will be live in Q2 2023.
Global health insurance company [NDA]
2020 – 2022
Service Designer – Jack Strachan, Lead experience design – Stephanie Fletcher, Lead UX – Harry Bond, Lead Product – Julie Jouault