The Importance of Story(thinking) in the Age of Service Ecosystems


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n an age of increasingly portable and ubiquitous content, digital products have been liberated from the notion of place. As Peter Morville has written, the lines between product and service have blurred to create multi-channel, cross-platform, trans-media, physico-digital experiences. For marketers, it’s becoming less effective to think about a “drive to”, and for designers it’s not enough to simply design for discreet channels and platforms. People are starting to use products and information in uniquely individual ways. And as products evolve into larger ecosystems, they become systems of services.

So how do we design for such spaces? How do we get to a strategy for facilitating the best customer experience at the right time and in the right place and on the right channel? And why is this a good thing? How can we grow a service ecosystem in a way that makes sense for customers as well as business?

Storytelling, as a framework for both strategy and design, is one way to get there. In a world of personalized experiences, we need to begin thinking about multi-strand narratives involving the integration of a digital product in the context of everyday life. Storytelling, used this way, becomes the bridge between the data (flow of information) and the customer interaction (across multiple touchpoints). It can inform “the what” as well as “the how” of product and service design. It helps us coordinate larger, multi-disciplinary teams. And, most important, it helps us build better more personally relevant products and services.

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  • <work story> This was introducing a whole new set of problems.  Rather than solving for a single product, service or information space we are now faced with multi-channel, cross-platform, cross-media ecosystems. <problem with verizon’s ecosystem>The problem WE face is how to design for such spaces. Most of us have had to think about how a mobile app fits in with a product, service or system, but how do we begin to approach business and design when faced with a system of services? Why services?As I started to look at ecosystems I saw that the very nature of what companies were doing was changing… Verizon was still very much working in this silo model but other companies were growing in a way that was organic and connected to their primary offering. Take Rosenfeld media for example
  • This presentation will take a look at why storytelling (or story thinking) as a framework for both strategy and design can help us build (and grow) more coherent and cohesive service ecosystems.
  • The problem we face is how to design for such spaces. Most of us have had to think about how a mobile app fits in with a product, service or system, but how do we begin to approach business and design when faced with a system of services? I say service, because the mere existence of the ecosystem has changed what companies do. .This presentation will take a look at why storytelling (or story thinking) as a framework for both strategy and design can help us build (and grow) more coherent and cohesive service ecosystems.
  • Oreilly from top: 1) the iconic polar bear book; 2) the various conferences they have; 3) how socially wired they are; 4) code for cookie handling in an iphone app; 5) Make magazine (magazien and in the lower right is the maker shed where you buy kits and components) + Maker Faire; 6) Safari: books online, their version of the nook and kindle I guess. Take O’Reilly’s for example: <O’Reilly’s illustration>And because of that, companies like O’Reilly that were once about producing a single product or service, now feel more like a “servicing ecosystem” that has expanded into multiple contexts and touch points. Instead of navigating a place, or a siloed, self-contained experience (elaborate), customers are now navigating across a service ecosystem. And as these ecosystems evolve, our behaviors are changing along with the brands. In an ecosystem, people have more options. Different times, different places, different needs, different solutions, different contributions. [elaborate, show an example]The benefits to all this are pretty clear.
  • From top center and clockwise: meeting picture, illustrating the core of weightwatchers; two screens from the web versions, focusing on tools; products they sell including a pedometer that posts your points directly to the online tools; mobile screens tracking health gauges and with successtoriy screen; lolcatz funny
  • Clockwise from top center: home page of; historic stuff about perfect games (an extreme rarity in baseball and one which happened three times this year, very topical I’m making you look), Rube Waddell old ball player (the one who was distracted by puppy dogs and fire trucks; fantasy screen; on-line TV; iphone app (2430 games per year)
  • Clockwise starting at top center is the Panorama issue of the quartely. It was a fake newspaper. Made a pretty big splash, included Sunday magazine. What is the What, the Dave Eggers novel about a Sudanese Refugee sparked a school building nonprofit in the region. Brooklyn Superhero Supply company – storefront to a writers workshops and sells the whole line of McSweeney publication in addition to the superhero goodsBeliever and Wholphin bundled togetheriPhone and Web content bundled together. All of these benefits feel very much like a service. A service delivered in the form of tools, content and experiences that give customers a way to personalize they way they engage with a brand. And on top of that, it’s good for business!
  • So how do we design for such spaces? Most of us have had to think about how a mobile app fits in with a product, service or system, but how do we begin to approach business and design when faced with a system of services? Designing for ecosystems has given us new problems to grapple with:
  • So how do we get to a strategy for facilitating the best customer experience at the right time and in the right place and on the right channel? How can we grow a service ecosystem in a way that makes sense for customers as well as business?
  • <verizon story>There’s a feeling that they need to put things out there: we need a social strategy! We need a mobile app! We need to engage our existing customers! We need better online support! Without much thinking into how all of these things work together. They’re growing their ecosystems without first thinking about the holistic experience the ecosystem needs to support. [In the case of Verizon, one of their primary goals for a redesign of their eSupport system is to reduce call volume….blah blah] That to me is an ecosystem problem. you're dealing with right now, you're describing a channel rush, but it might be much broader, how companies evolve their service ecosystem is how they're evolving their brand, but also how they're evolving their offering.  those exclamation point questions could include we need to innovate! we need to get closer to our audience! we need to engage them more!  The response to we need mobile doesn't necessarily involve service, but the other questions do.  (That said, you might want to argue that the best response is service . . . )So how do we design for such spaces? Most of us have had to think about how a mobile app fits in with a product, service or system, but how do we begin to approach business and design when faced with a system of services? And few of us will ever get to design an ecosystem from scratch, so how can we improve the way bodies of systems (services) work and relate to other bodies (services) in the system?
  • When I talk about story(thinking), I’m talking about borrowing an approach to narrative design that will help us with the way we think about services. In this context storytelling (or story thinking) works as a framework for developing strategy.<elaborate> putting experience firstI think this is especially important because…
  • I think this is especially important because…
  • And if customers need to make sense of it that way, then business, marketing and design need to as well.
  • <elaborate>This is how it works:
  • I’ve often used a story line as a foundation for the design strategy for a single product or set of features, but in a service ecosystem, we’re suddenly dealing with multiple stories and multiple strands within stories.  In the case of Verizon, we see ourselves dealing with three major story lines.
  • Each element of the ecosystem could be coded to represent the storyline under which it falls.  Then, within each primary story line, we have multiple strands, or subplots:
  • To better understand this think of the movie Nashville…(elaborate) What the subplots help us do is to help us define the primary narrative strands that take place in the ecosystem. Each one of these strands can take place in multiple contexts, or across multiple channels, platforms and touch points.
  • Once we find the main storylines and subplots, we can start to think about how the story unfolds. And if you’re a company or organization concerned about defining of the quality and value of the experience being delivered through your service, you’re probably starting with some research and customer insights. [elaborate]
  • In the case of Verizon, looking at the storylines helped us better understand what we needed to learn. Rather than building general customer personas, we needed to understand the archetypal behaviors for each storyline and sometimes for a particular plot. We also looked at analytics…. [elaborate] All of these things put together helped us develop a summary of the story we needed to develop.
  • For Shop for Services, we started by summarizing the main story line. This is the piece that encapsulates the primary goals of the service and speaks to brand.  
  • Then, we spend some time thinking about the themes. Themes can come in a variety of forms, but are ultimately about defining the value and quality of the service experience. [elaborate] 
  • Next, for each subplot we considered the various events (or moments) in the path that satisfy a customer desire or need.
  • Again, these are very high level, but the benefit is that they keep the customer at the center of our thinking about design of the system.  This becomes your experience strategy.  When done with the exercise, we arrived at something that looked like this across all three story lines:
  • The next step is to determine where the subplots and story events can and need to happen in the service ecosystem.
  • So this is where we get to solving some problems: trying to understand the make-up of the ecosystem. Sometimes duplication across channels and platforms is good (in the case of movie watching). Sometimes it doesn’t work (In the case of eSupport).  First we take a look at where a story might take place.
  • Frustrated by a recent cable outage during a PPV sporting event, Richard starts asking his friends about their service providers. After a co-worker goes on about how happy he is with FiOS…
  • …Richard talks to his wife Amanda about getting new service.
  • While researching service providers online, Amanda spots an ad from Verizon reminding her that she deserves better than cable TV. The message strikes a chord with the family’s reason for considering a switch. So Amanda clicks on the ad…
  • …and goes to a page that displays a message about how Verizon understands Philadephia’s pain with cable. Because we’ve detected her location we can deliver messages that are relevant to her hometown.
  • After looking at a comparison chart of all local competitors, she realizes how little she knew about FiOS.
  • Eager to learn more, Amanda checks availability at her home address then…
  • goes to the FiOS TV page. Right away she sees a fun, game-like survey asking her what kind of entertainment she’s interested in.
  • She selects sports and movies then clicks a button to play a personalized video demonstrating the feel of sports and film on FiOS. Now Verizon knows something about Amanda’s entertainment passions.
  • To make the content even more relevant, the page also displays ratings and reviews from customers in Philadelphia, as well as a link that will allow her to post to her Facebook wall, asking friends what they think about FiOS.
  • Now excited about the possibilities of FiOS, she decides to investigate prices, and clicks on a callout for “Save Money with our Bundled Options”.
  • The page describes what you can bundle as well what goes into the price---from base offer to final monthly fee.Below, there’s a short list of questions to get her started with choosing a bundle.
  • Amanda feels like she doesn’t have enough information to get started, so she emails a bundle planner to herself to help her gather all the right details with Richard. So far, Amanda feels happy to be getting all the information she needs at this stage in her process.
  • Later that day, she sits down with Richard to gather all the details she needs to find the right bundle and to get a real price from Verizon. At the same time, Richard goes online to do some third party research to better inform their choice.
  • After completing the worksheet, Amanda goes to the bundle builder link specified on the printout.
  • She selects options for her configuration and the builder displays three bundles based on what Amanda has told us about her needs and what we know about her interests and site activity. To alleviate fears of hidden costs, the base price as well as the final monthly bill are clearly displayed on the options.
  • After finding the right bundle, Amanda saves it, gives it a name,
  • and the page displays a personalized bundle page with the ability to view an overview of the package, details of the configuration,
  • and how it compares to competitor prices. Before making a final decision, she prints out the pricing and configuration details and she and Richard compare the Verizon package against what she’s found with other competitors.
  • The next day, Amanda goes back to to sign up for FiOS.
  • Given everything thing Verizon has learned about Amanda, the page displays a personalized greeting, a list of upcoming sports and movie programs as well as a clear link to their saved bundle.
  • Excited, Amanda goes to their saved bundle page and completes the purchase in under five minutes.
  • After the purchase Amanda and Richard receive a personalized welcome packet, which prepares them for the upcoming installation and gives them tips about how to disconnect from their current provider.
  • About a week later Richard and Amanda finally get their service installed. Not only are they pleased with their choice, but they’ve just begun a long-term relationship with the brand.
  • Identifying the multiple story lines that define an ecosystem is the starting point for tackling our problems related to ecosystems:
  • The Importance of Story(thinking) in the Age of Service Ecosystems

    1. 1. The Importance of Story(thinking) in the Age of Service Ecosystems <br />CINDY CHASTAIN<br />@cchastainIDEA 2010<br />
    2. 2.
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    5. 5. what a service ecosystem looks like<br />
    6. 6.
    7. 7. information, tools, and guidance for every aspect of healthy weight loss<br />
    8. 8. surrounds your reading with new resources, products, and services<br />
    9. 9. stokes customer passions at every level<br />
    10. 10. different types of content for different occasions, locations, media<br />
    11. 11. Two types of service ecosystems<br />A single product or servicein multiple places… <br />A variety of product or servicesin different places… <br />
    12. 12. Business Benefits<br />Creates more opportunities for engaging customers <br />Make it easier for customers to engage repeatedly and in ways that suit their needs<br />Helps grow and retain a loyal customer base<br />Introduces new revenue opportunities<br />
    13. 13. Challenges<br />Identifying the thematic center of an experience. <br />Orchestrating a wide range of customer touch points.<br />Choosing what service tools, features and content to offer and where.<br />Managing the architecture, flow and consistency of data across multiple channels, platforms and services.<br />Aligning the efforts of large, multi-disciplinary teams.<br />
    14. 14.
    15. 15. story (thinking) = building narrative strands as a framework for mapping customer experiences within an ecosystem<br />
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    20. 20. mapping the existing ecosystem<br />
    21. 21. Verizon’s service ecosystem<br />
    22. 22. bringing you the best technology in all the right places? <br />
    23. 23. finding existing storylines<br />
    24. 24. three primary storylines<br />
    25. 25. storylines and subplots<br />
    26. 26. define themes and events<br />
    27. 27. Five Personas for the Shopping Storyline<br />The Collaborator<br />The Get It Done<br />Decision Maker<br />The Wheeler/Dealer<br />The Methodical Shopper<br />The Opinion Seeker<br />It’s difficult enough to meet everyone’s needs in the house – why does the process have to be so complex?<br />Too much detail slows me down. I just want to check this off my to-do list as quickly as possible.<br />I love the feeling of gaming the system and getting a great deal.<br />The more I know, the less likely I am to be ripped off.<br />I’d hate to make the wrong choice so I check with people who might know more than I do.<br /><ul><li>Considers the needs and preferences of other members of the household
    28. 28. Gathers research and questions to discuss offline with a collaborator
    29. 29. Knows what they want and needs to take care of business efficiently
    30. 30. Sets time limits for decision making process
    31. 31. Willing to spend the time and effort to negotiate and find deals, coupons, offers
    32. 32. Believes they need to talk to a person in order to get the best possible deal
    33. 33. Has a thorough system for gathering and evaluating information from a lot of sources (blogs, reviews, articles, reports, etc.)
    34. 34. Creates personal lists and charts to compare findings
    35. 35. Insecurity about their own knowledge and expertise drives them to validate decisions with other people
    36. 36. Considers opinions from friends, family, colleagues and online peers </li></li></ul><li>set up the main story line<br />
    37. 37. define experience themes<br />
    38. 38. develop subplots<br />
    39. 39. use as the foundation for experience strategy<br />
    40. 40. foundation for experience strategy<br />
    41. 41. mapping subplots to the ecosystem<br />
    42. 42. storyline mapped to locations<br />
    43. 43. existing learn events mapped to locations<br />
    44. 44. new opportunities in the ecosystem<br />
    45. 45. Existing sign-up events<br />
    46. 46. creating stories for design<br />
    47. 47. collaborator learn journey<br />D. <br />E. <br />A. <br />B. <br />C. <br />
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    72. 72. final thoughts<br />
    73. 73. The Benefits of Story<br />Helps define a collection of experiences around a common theme<br />Keeps customers needs at the center of business decisions<br />Informs the value and quality of the customer interaction at various touch points<br />Help us define where to put the right features and service interactions<br />Informs the data model that will support those interactions<br />Make marketing efforts more relevant<br />
    74. 74. Story lines and plots are the bridge between our collective thinking aboutwhat customers need to do and how andwhere they need to do it. <br />
    75. 75. THANKS!<br />@cchastain<br /><br /><br />