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Re-imagining an online booking system 


The ability to book a practical driver licence test online is something that customers in New Zealand have actually been able to do for some time. That said, the online experience of actually doing it wasn't great. Menus were cumbersome, the mobile experience wasn't easy and it all took too many clicks.

Back in 2007, I was working in the customer service centre where such bookings were made, and that gave me a first hand insight as to just how painful the process was, not just for the customer but for the staff using the system as well.

Fast forward to 2018, working as part of the Driver Licence Experience project, I was presented with the challenge of leading the Service Design workstream for the redesign of the online 'Book a test' service.


For this project, I was working as part of a cross-functional team, operating in an Agile environment, co-located with our vendor. The Product Owner & I worked together closely, and were aligned in our view that the customer experience was at the centre of what we were building, representing our primary driver for success. 

Working with our data colleagues, we were able to identify who was currently booking online (as opposed to in person/over the phone). We then undertook an initial phase of nationwide interviews, talking to customers who had booked via all three channels. The outputs of these were used to create empathy maps. Through a series of workshops, the quantitative and qualitative data were considered in tandem and a number of personas were developed, with our primary persona 'Nate', sitting within the age-group with the highest numbers of online bookings. 

Next, I began a second round of interviews with our target customers, this time focusing on understanding their thoughts around booking online. Using various popular websites that contained a booking engine (including our current website), I asked them to talk about what they liked, didn't like, what their preferences are, what works well on mobile/tablet devices, etc. I wanted to know what a good online design and experience means for them.


My findings were presented to the development team and the key insights formed the basis for our first draft wireframes, which we developed over a single sprint in collaboration with business SMEs and the Product Owner. I then began the cycle of getting feedback from customers on the wireframes, A/B testing, feeding back to the project, and iterating again in the next sprint.


The relatively limited time frame of this project was a definite constraint - as is the case for just about any project! The programme of work was delivering multiple pieces of work, so priorities (and my time!) were being juggled. When the Product Owner says "you've got two days", it's time to really go to work and make those days count

At first, some of the team were somewhat hesitant to see the value in the customer engagement work; they felt they knew what was required and that they could write user-stories based on their own experience and business knowledge. But once we had our personas developed, on the walls, their voice was tangibly "in the room". There was nothing more satisfying for me than watching developers talking to solution architects and testers about what 'Nate' and 'Amber' might want - people really bought in to them.


The website launched on 1 August 2018 and received positive feedback from customers and staff at our customer service centre. There's still room for improvement and these user-stories remain a part of the ongoing product backlog. This project was another great example for me that when you put yourself in the shoes of your customer, it's often the best way to identify their needs.


We didn't make the mistake of designing what we thought the customer wanted. A good example of this was when I presented our final options to our steering committee. Their preference/bias was Option B. But our customers preferred Option A and their feedback across the final round of interviews and testing was clear. Option A was implemented.


It was great being able to get project team members out on the road with me, talking to customers - it gave them an opportunity to get a real experience of how our customers feel and think. I also found that using photographs and direct audio quotes in my presentations really brought the customer voice to life. It genuinely got people thinking about the customer first


The success of this was a good reminder for me that talking to customers and listening to their needs is only part of the work. It doesn't matter how well I do this if I can't also work with the business, the project & my steering committee to ensure they understand, listen and (crucially) act upon these insights too.


  • Qualitative research

  • Personas

  • Wireframe development

  • Sprint planning

  • Storymaps

  • Presentation

  • Prototyping

  • Customer testing

  • Working Agile





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