Cluey Learning empowers school going children—and their parents—to make informed decisions about their education by providing learning programs which align with their academic needs. An experienced education team creates, curates and sequences content aligned with local state syllabuses Australia-wide while recruiting and developing tutors who pair with students to guide them toward their learning goals.
As a lean start-up, Cluey Learning drove much of its early growth through synchronous customer support channels, such as phone conversations or email correspondence. Almost every customer query regarding enrolment, admission, scheduling or tech support was addressed by an ever-growing customer care team. This demand on customer service agents, and associated costs, grew in parallel with the customer base.
The reliance on synchronous support was not only expensive, but also federated processes across individual support team members. This created a poor customer experience, and the processes didn't support the scale, leading to inconsistencies, complaints and escalations.
To address this problem, Cluey formed a "Customer Relationships" work stream with the intent to:
By analysing reporting data, it was understood that the majority of support needs concerned "session scheduling" such as moving all, or some sessions to a different day or time due to household schedule disruption. These scenarios made up around 70% of total costs. Further to this, 66% of all service management was handled by care team members. Without changing customer behaviour and empowering them to leverage the Cluey Customer Hub—where they could manage their own scheduling needs—the volume of customers utilising the existing support channel would grow exponentially as the customer base grew.
While much effort had been made to enable self-management features for customers, the uptake was only 33% due to habits customers formed like replying to emails, or calling and having their requests managed—albeit with some friction—by care team members. By analysing support cases in more detail, however, four key contributing themes emerged:
1) Missing features
In this scenario, the customer visited their Cluey Hub to re-schedule a future session, however, changing sessions beyond the immediate upcoming one was not support and a support case was lodged instead. This resulted in back and forth communication with the customer later to clarify a new time for the session.
2) Replying to comms
In this scenario, the customer replied to past communications received from Cluey as a means to request schedule changes, once again creating a support case which required manual resolution from the care team.
3) Do it for me
In this scenario, a customer bypassed all available scheduling features in the Cluey Hub and found a "free-text" contact form to request a schedule change, which raised a support case that needed manual processing.
4) Policy confusion
We also received insight into why sessions were skipped rather than re-scheduled by utilising an end-of-flow questionnaire in the Cluey Hub. The reasons pointed to confusion about service fee policies, whether or not Cluey was open on public holidays and how many times a session could be re-scheduled.
By mapping out real customer experiences, listening to call recordings and reading through email correspondence chains, the various friction customers experienced became clear. These revealed the fallacy that synchronous support offered superior service. We highlighted the following pain-points for customers when interacting with Cluey:
A massive reduction on the "support cost targets" could be made by addressing customer needs in the following ways:
While support cost targets were a starting point, the broader impact required re-inventing the relationship Cluey had with its customers. The workstream objective articulate this purpose,
"To build and maintain relationships with customers that produce positive learning outcomes"
The broad objective meant consideration was also given to providing clarity around how productive relationships were maintained, evidenced and what they resulted in. Along with this, it was important to acknowledge different relationship dynamics between customer types, for instance, household administrators (eg. a parent who manages the service) and learners (the student who attends learning sessions). Seasonal impacts on those relationships were also considered because education support is not approached universally as "always-on". Therefore, customer activation, learning activity, learning stops and customer re-activation becomes cyclic.A timeline view of how a relationship with a household might evolve during stages of a school year.
To drive more customer-led service management, Cluey needed to anchor decisions to tasks, rather than channels, and communication needed to be utilised more purposefully and deliberately. The way the service had operated was fundamentally not suited to scale, therefore transformation was required to drive more self-service. The transformation needed was from a channel-orientated approach (where customer inputs could come from anywhere) to a task-orientated approach, directing customer inputs to the appropriate channel.An example of how channel redirection would be managed.
To drive this transformation, the following values guided relationship considerations:
To anchor customer experience decisions with the methodology values, the following principles were created:
To ensure the principles were applied in practice, from end-to-end, this framework was utilised for every initiative.
To ensure maximum business value was achieved through the customer workstream initiatives, a relationship foundation was built by addressing core sustainability problem areas, such as session scheduling needs. This is was a dependency because it disrupted the momentum required to achieve higher value outcomes.Building a strong relationship foundation enabled higher value initiatives.
Discovery research presented insight into the triggers for customer scheduling interactions such as, "Netball training got moved this week and therefore my child can't make their Cluey session". This understanding was the catalyst for mapping out how pro-active customers might behave from that point.
Forgetful customers were managed through other service flows, such as automated reminders and follow-ups.This basic trigger encapsulated a typical starting point, forking off in many directions depending on the customer default channel.
The mapping exercise considered all the ways a household administrator (e.g, a parent) might seek to inform Cluey of their schedule change needs, if not opting to make the change themselves. This map ensured all avenues included the promotion of, direction to, and enablement of the Cluey Hub as necessary to fulfil scheduling related tasks.The journey map demonstrated how Cluey would direct customers from inbound phone calls, email or text messages as well as direct Cluey Hub access if they sought to amend session schedules, temporarily or permanently.
Utilising the Customer Experience Principles throughout, the flows leveraged information about the customer to contextualise phone call menu prompts with relevant options and provided instructions in accordance with customer needs.
By capturing a customer's intent accurately, the appropriate channel was determined for tasks where the Cluey Hub was most suitable and the call ended while further instructions wew provided via email or sms. Only a select few tasks led customers to synchronous support, such as those requiring technical help. This provided customers with better alternatives and reduced on-hold wait times for those in need of synchronous support. Customers seeking technical support were also much more likely to call when they were able to access their computer and troubleshoot issues, rather than while multi-tasking which often extended schedule change interactions because customer weren't able to view their calendar at the same time, for instance, while driving.
Similar rules were placed on incoming emails and text messages, which auto-responded with instructions directing customers to start their journey through Cluey Hub where they could easily manage all aspects of the Cluey service.The phone flow considered call routing based on known information about the incoming caller and then prompted them with applicable menu options.
Once a customer accessed their Cluey Hub account, it was vital that friction points from previous user feedback were addressed. The design moved away from a category menu style information architecture (eg. your enrolments, upcoming sessions, need help) to one which offered situational sign-posts and signals (eg. today's sessions, can't make it, taking a break). The homepage was structured to provide clear starting points to meet customer use-cases, and then clarified specific intent on subsequent screens before finally directing customers to the appropriate content or feature.
For the specific scenarios related to managing schedules (for which there are many permutations and variables), the Cluey Hub signalled relative session time options, captured specific intent regarding the nature of the scheduling need (one time, recurring, break or complete stop). Once the nature of the scheduling need was clear, the flow automatically directed the customer to the appropriate feature for their type of enrolment (private or group) and context.The home screen signalled schedule change starting points and then captured more specific intent. To promote learning, when "change an upcoming session" was chosen, alternate time options would appear before a "skip" option. If skipping the session was chosen, clear policy implications were displayed.
Set to be delivered by January 2023, the impact for both Cluey and its customers will be immense. After a 6 month process of identifying, framing and prioritising problems, the solutions above will contribute to a significant reduction in support costs, help Cluey reach profitability and streamline support activity during the January-March peak period.
All in all, I am extremely proud to have designed an end-to-end service experience focused on customer need which provides: