Sutherland Innovation Labs Research and design. Improving everyday experiences. Mon, 21 Jan 2019 09:29:10 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Copyright 2019, Sutherland Innovation Labs - Sutherland Innovation Labs Research and design. Improving everyday experiences. Designing Agentive Technology Wed, 16 Jan 2019 16:54:15 +0000 Designing Agentive Technology

Over the past months we’ve been delighted to have Natalie Jensen join us as an intern in the San Francisco Labs. Among other topics, Natalie has been looking into how to design ‘Agentive Technology’ – a term coined by Chris Noessel and discussed in depth in his 2017 book, Designing Agentive Technology: AI That Works for People. Read her thoughts in the post below.

Agentive Technology

On December 10th, I attended an AI meetup where Chris Noessel spoke about what agentive technology is, how it’s already being used, and what it means from a design standpoint.

Upon arrival, the word agentive seemed entirely foreign to me, but looking at its origin, ‘agent’, can explain the technology fairly well. Agentive technology takes into account a user’s interest and acts as an agent to cater to those interests. This helps the user to a achieve a goal with minimal effort, allowing their attention to turn elsewhere while the agent actively does the work. One example of this is a followed search, where a few initial searches and clicks turns into tailored results being pushed to you – think Amazon’s “Recommended to You” or Spotify’s “Daily Mixes”. Eventually the user doesn’t have to search for what they want, and what they want is instead presented to them. Another example of this is Waze, which constantly re-evaluates current traffic distribution to determine if taking an alternative route would be quicker. This eliminates potential error (“Is this shortcut actually shorter?”) and saves the user time.

When designing for agentive technology, designers need to focus on the goal rather than the task. An example of this is the vacuum, which for years was continuously redesigned to be lighter, more powerful, and more efficient – then came Roomba. Roomba can vacuum (the task) without human interaction and leaves floors clean (the goal). Although mostly void of human interaction, agentive technology still needs to allow for the user to start, monitor, tune, and stop the agent in order for it to perform as desired per the user. Thus the goal of agentive technology is for the user to be able to disengage after setting the agent up to their liking or until they need to tune it again.

When designing these agents, companies also need to be aware of potential consumer concerns. The first being control and subjectivity. Since agents are software that exist on various mediums (Apple, Spotify, Waze, etc.) they can be subject to pushing biased results that are favorable to the company and its partners interests. By not promising subjectivity, companies can avoid some backlash, but agent algorithms still need to be monitored against abuse.

Another concern is security, being that the agent monitors your data and creates a detailed model of the user. Even the simplest information stored by the agent could be used to support identity theft, the potential security risks are serious.

Companies must take into account all of these concerns from an ethical stand-point and actively work to protect their consumers. This approach is here to stay, and it’s potential negative by-products will too if not addressed.

Intrigued by agentive technology? Natalie will be following up with subsequent articles on this topic, watch this space.

Best of Coolest Things 2018 Tue, 15 Jan 2019 16:57:48 +0000 Best of Coolest Things 2018

Every month we publish a little list of the coolest things that we have found online. It is a little contest that we have in the labs, trying to one-up each other in our trans-Atlantic slack channel. But now the new year is upon us, and the time has come to choose the cream of the crop from 2018, the best of the best, the coolest of the coolest things that we saw last year.

Nintendo Labo

While these folded cardboard creations may not have caught on the way that some people were expecting, we still can’t get over the sheer inventive fun of the Nintendo Labo. Our hats are off to the designers who brought the cardboard fort into the videogame age.

SpaceX Launch

February might seem decades ago, but it is hard to believe that we have forgotten about the successful launch of SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket out of Vanderberg Airforce base back at the start of the year. That mysterious streak across the night sky above the San Francisco Bay is still one of the coolest things we’ve seen all year long.

SpaceX Launch


2018 may have been a year of endlessly exploited nostalgia, but it is hard to deny the simple cleverness of promoting the retro-nostalgia-fest of Ready Player One with a free online arcade experience. Sadly, it has since been removed from the RPO official website, but for a few weeks you could mount that weird bird and fight other weird birds in glorious technicolor.

NHS “Predictalitics”

Big data has been driving major businesses for quite some time now, so it is nice to see the public sector picking up on the trend to deliver better results for its users, particularly when those better results are for the national health service that keeps people in the UK alive.

River Reclamation

While this idea has lost a little bit of its shine now that the winter months have rolled around, there is no denying that converting disused stretches of our cities rivers back into safe and clean swimming spaces is still a solid plan.

River Reclamation

Jake Knapp’s To-Do Lists

Fashioned after a busy kitchen, this ex-Google design director’s approach to to-do lists revolutionized the way that some of the people in the labs organize themselves. With enough brevity to keep you from being overwhelmed, but enough information to keep you informed.

Netflix Artwork Personalization

You might not realize just how much attention Netflix pays to the selections that you make, but there are layers of algorithms at work within the UI of their service, and one of the neatest things we have caught them doing is choosing the best of the available “posters” to match our tastes and tempt us into trying a new show.


A subscription service that gets you a takeaway lunch at a different restaurant of your choice every day, so you can just walk in and pick it up instead of blowing your whole lunch hour? And it costs less than £5 a day? Sign us up!

The McKinsey Report

This particular cool thing may only be cool to us, but seeing one of the world’s leading business consultancies shouting about the importance of design to their clients feels a little bit vindicating for a design practice who has been saying the same thing for decades!

A Manufacturing Robot’s Diversity Letter

Riffing on the now rather infamous “diversity letter” of a mysteriously ex-employee of google, this little letter is a hilarious spoof of our human-centric approach to the world.

So, there you go, the best of the best to see you through until the great battle for cool thing supremacy kicks off again this year!

The Sutherland Labs Awards – or Slabs – 2018! Fri, 21 Dec 2018 10:06:38 +0000 The Sutherland Labs Awards – or Slabs – 2018!

Welcome to the inaugural Slabs!  It’s hard to believe we’re almost at the end of 2018 already! It’s been a very busy, innovation-packed year at the Labs, and we decided that it was time we celebrated the best ideas, products and customer experiences we’ve studied, mapped, explored and researched in the last twelve months.

We’ve pooled our collective knowledge and experiences of retail experiences, voice tech, products, services and random cool stuff that our design researchers, strategists, designers, consultants and developers have encountered… and it’s possibly the most awesome list of awesome stuff you’ll see this year. We asked the Labs team to make their nominations in the following categories:

  • Best Retail Customer Experience
  • Best Voice User Experience
  • Best Product or Service Innovation
  • Best Random Design Thing That We Weren’t Expecting

And the results are in… drum roll… fanfare… gasps of surprise… let’s do this!

Best Retail Customer Experience

We know from our participation in the first global Retail Benchmark Study by the UXalliance this year that Retail was always going to be a hotly contested category…

Overall Winner: Amazon

Okay, okay, so like Tom Hanks getting Best Actor, maybe this one is a bit obvious but Amazon wins on some excellent customer experience innovations. The Labs crew were particularly impressed with the spread of Amazon lockers for more flexible delivery options, and their growing range of Subscribe & Save discount deals for repeat purchases. Also, the obvious utility of integration with Alexa for shopping services, and the family sharing options for Prime, made Amazon tick the most boxes.

Runners-up: ASOS, Argos, Zalando and Eyebuydirect

Amazon’s win was a close run thing. On their heels was ASOS, who scored very highly with the way the handle try-ons at home & returns, flexible payment options, and especially Klarna monthly account settlements. ASOS also got high praise for their excellent chat support, loyalty rewards points, and surprisingly accurate recommended items.

Another contender was Zalando, who offered interesting product search options so if an item is out of stock, they help you locate one for sale nearby.

Argos also deserve a clap because their excellent use of live chat support, Ebay integration and click’n’collect have effectively blended the concept of online convenience and home delivery with the immediacy of going to the shops and buying it now. It’s offering an omnichannel retail experience better than most.

We also have to mention specialist eyewear site, EyeBuyDirect, who have an excellent EyeTry app that lets you take a picture of your face, then try on frames to get an idea of how they look. Interestingly, this is one thing that’s easier to do online than with a mirror, because you can keep your regular glasses on at the same time, so you see how your new frames will look better than in a mirror without corrective lenses – which is a stubborn customer pain point.

Best Voice Experience

What’s interesting about this category is it’s an ecosystem award, as in, you need more than just a voice interface and a smart speaker to really get the best of what voice has to offer…

Overall Winner: Amazon Alexa Smart Home Skills + Wifi Bulbs + Plugs

Once again, it’s no surprise to see the market leader in home smartspeaker devices – Amazon’s Echo – winning this category with the Alexa digital assistant. However, what is surprising, is how quickly the ecosystem of smart home devices is fast becoming the killer voice app – compared to setting kitchen timers or streaming music, which is where most users start off. In that context, all the Labs crew who used Alexa-enabled lights at home loved them – particularly for children’s bedrooms where they become part utility, part toy.

More interesting still is how the use of smart plugs to enable wifi control of traditional items is becoming a popular smart home life hack. From turning on the electric wall heater in the home office (garden shed), to voice operating a fan on the exercise bike (when you get too hot) and controlling the Christmas Tree lights without bending down and trying to reach around the spiky pine needles to hit the wall socket switch, Alexa-enabled plugs can turn anything into a smart home gadget, more or less.

Runner-up: Youtube, Google + Google Play Music

Clearly, there are a lot of voice innovations happening, and other smartspeaker users in the Labs highly rated Google’s ability to match fragments of lyrics to songs, so if you say “Google, play that song that goes er… all the kids in the marketplace say way-oh-way-oh-way-oh-oh-oh Google’s Assistant will play “Walk Like An Egyptian” by the Bangles. Clever. Even more remarkable, is if you sing the tune… da-da-da-dadaaaa, da-daa-da-daaa-daaaa (yes, even badly) it somehow it knows “I think you’re singing Dancing in the Dark by Frank Sinatra”. Boom. Clearly, a showerproof version will be a must have in 2019!

However, it would be remiss of us to omit to mention that VUX isn’t limited to the superstar smartspeaker AIs out there. Ben in our San Francisco Labs thinks Youtube have used voice really effectively for reducing user friction with their voice search, which has been a big hit with children who find voice more natural than typing, and more accessible on smart TVs and devices without trad keyboards. That’s a big CX thumbs-up for the Tubers out there.

Best Product / Service Innovation

This is where the Labs crew reveal just how far and wide their design research takes them, to unexpected places which show really how exciting things are getting beyond the world of familiar brands that scoop the awards in other categories…

Overall Winner: The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club

Coming in hot, straight out of London’s fashionable Old Street is The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club, deserving of the win for it’s intelligent end-to-end customer experience design. The ‘Shed blends a clever membership scheme (subscription economy, anyone?) that builds a sense of community, with a smart retail experience (cool motorbike gear that’s perfect for fashion and cyclists) with a traditional shave and haircut barber shop (men’s grooming) a members lounge with regular events and guest speakers (the full club experience) and an excellent restaurant with discounted members rates (fine dining). All of this is combined with – obviously – parking for your Harley, Augusta café racer, Ducati Monster or er… folding commuter pushbike. And the best part is, it’s open to anyone, not just members (although members get the perks).

Owen, our Global Head of Labs said, “What I love about this club is traditional biker clubs – like classic car clubs – haven’t really evolved much since the Ace Café style greasy spoon experience of the 1950’s. The ‘Shed has taken that exact same biker community spirit, but updated it to provide a really smooth, high quality experience for modern motorcyclists, blending the old school petrolhead rebel attitude with the sort of club facilities you’d expect in any modern urban location packed with professionals from all walks of life. Really well executed customer experience design.”

Runners-up: Thorntons Budgens, Pandoo & Who Gives A Crap

We can’t let the excellent sustainability initiative at Budgen go without a mention. The traditional supermarket is trialing a really interesting scheme to reduce waste, by offering customers the opportunity to shop ‘plastic free’, with alternative options like paper, metal, glass and string to contain items. What really made this project stand out – beyond the obvious environmental benefit – is Andrew Thornton (the founder) managed to go from concept to plastic-free shopping in just 10 weeks. That’s the sort of brilliant, agile service design we love to see here at the Labs. Brilliant.

Keeping on the environmental theme, we also had to mention another clever service design – the aptly titled Who Gives A Crap – who have addressed the huge use of single use plastics and unsustainable processes in the toilet tissue industry. Offering recyclable packaging, bulk subscriptions (yes, more subscription economics) and humourous wrapping designs to make the whole sustainable loo-paper project appeal to a wide audience Who Gives A Crap is a witty sustainable scheme we love – and buying their loo roll helps raise millions for developing countries and sanitation projects around the world.

And finally, everyone in the Labs has been impressed with the sudden emergence of bamboo products, which offer plastic-like properties without the obvious environmental impact, and also offering a good deal of carbon capture as the fast-growing plant matures before harvest. Clever stuff, and the brand that has really won over our hearts, lunchboxes and the staff fridge is Pandoo.    

Best Random Thing

We had to include this category because there have been so many remarkable things that don’t really fit into one category, but deserve to win a round of applause for the way they have used product and service design to disrupt traditional markets, throw a few curveballs, and generally make us stop and think about doing things smarter than the status quo. Let’s hear it for the mavericks!

Brand extension: Citröen “Seetröen” glasses

This clever idea was spotted by Belinda, who sometimes suffers with travel sickness. It’s a clever mechanical idea – applying the same logic as focusing on the horizon if you are feeling seasick, to minimize motions.

Pushing the envelope: Rivian

Mark, our resident electric vehicle evangelist thinks a giant 4×4 pickup truck that can go faster than a Ferrari and doesn’t pollute is awesome. And yes, Mark, yes it is.

Leveraging data effectively: BMW Efficient Dynamics Sat Nav Option

This idea deserves a mention because it’s a brilliant example of using data effectively to personalise device performance, in this case, using the Sat Nav data to effect the automatic gearbox on a BMW 5 Series. The result? The car optimises it’s gear changes for the speed limits, gradient and traffic density to increase fuel economy and reduce wasted emissions from using the wrong gear, or accelerating too much in stop-start traffic.

Lifestyle Change Product Design: Cube Bike  

This one, also from our EV buff Mark, was nominated not for its clever and unobtrusive design (fitting a battery and drive system into what appears to be a stylish off road hybrid bike) but by the fact Mark now commutes into the Labs and back again using one. His 30-mile round trip is great exercise, but the variable electric assistance means he arrives at work without needing to change and shower before he can meet clients. So it’s a win:win for end-to-end customer experience design.

Sustainable Thinking: Pasta Straws & Roots Delivery

These two examples of sustainable thinking have made a big impact in the studio. Gemma in the London Labs noticed the pasta straws in a Hawaiian themed bar, and since then has noticed they are popping up everywhere, a neat, sustainable, biodegradable solution to the plastic problem. Simon ‘Woody’ Wood our visual designer also loves the sustainable model of Roots Delivery, and their re-usable glass jar packaging and sustainable home delivery service. Think local, act global!

Smart Home: Arlo Wireless Cam

This clever wireless home security and smart home gadget has a lot of fans in the Labs. Pet lover Mike uses it to keep an eye on his cat, Mark uses it as a security system, it’s a baby monitor, it’s a CCTV for your deliveries when they’re left in the porch at Christmas, it’s perfect for motion capturing wildlife in the garden too.

Recycling Innovation: Singtex Coffee Yarns

Singaporean textile manufacturer Singtex wowed the Labs team this year as they created a yarn that is partly made from… coffee grounds. In fact, their S.Cafe project uses all waste from coffee, including colours, essences etc. and applies them to manufacturing recycled yarns. We love coffee, we love clothes, what’s not to love about that?


Woody was amazed by the team at sustainable printer Seacourt are leading the way in low impact, water free, low energy printing, and at a recent talk they explained they are prototyping ink made from worm wee. It turns out that worm casts (the soil excrete) or vermicompost is useful for a lot of things… a sustainable design thinker’s pet if ever there was one.

Unexpected Style Award: Inkbox

Elle in San Francisco rightly suggested we should celebrate Inbox’s revolutionary semi-permanent tattoos because it’s great product innovation, and also transforming the customer journey for the millions of people who love the look of ink, but don’t want to make the lifelong commitment to wearing it. They are organic, sustainable and opening-up a whole new world of possibilities for personal style, which is great design thinking and well worth a Slab!

Community Innovation: Thinkx

Women’s smart underwear brand Thinx has disrupted the whole category of period products with menstrutech underwear – stylish, but also period-proof and designed to replace the need for tampons or pads. Not only is this great sustainable thinking (using a lot less resources and less waste) and more practical for today’s active lifestyles, the company is also on a mission to help underserved communities around the world and designing specialist ranges for young people. A sustainable customer life journey that’s disrupting traditional industries? That always deserves a design award!

Top Gift Recommendations for 2018 Thu, 20 Dec 2018 10:50:34 +0000 Top Gift Recommendations for 2018

It is better to give than to receive – that is what people say when they have never received a gift from one of our talented present pickers! To celebrate the impending onslaught of the holiday season, we have collected a few of the best gift ideas that we could conjure up. Our gift to you, the panicked last-minute shopper.

Traditional Gifts

If you are trying to keep the flag of tradition flying in your household, might we recommend:

CandyLab Toys
You can’t get more traditional than hand carved wooden toys when it comes time to fill some stockings, but there is something about the glamorous 60s modernist vibe of these toy cars that gives you a little extra vaa-vaa-voom!

Marzipan Fruits
This may just be a British Thing, but there is something about the taste of Marzipan that screams Christmas over here on our jolly little island, and the Marzipan Fruits from Fortnum and Mason have a sort of old world elegance to them that brings back fond memories of the yule days of yore.

The London Sock Exchange
It is the gift that everyone gets and nobody really asks for. Socks! Not just for Christmas day, but delivered all through the year thanks to these wonderful subscription services – one of the few that is still seeing regular use by the labs staff.

Technically, Stance was recommended first, and it is more helpful to our American readers, but we are suckers for a good pun.

Everyday goodness

If you are looking for the gifts that just keep giving, then why not take a look at:

Keep Cups
Everyone and their grandmother gets coffee to go in this day and age, but only some of us have cottoned on to the price-saving joy that is reusable coffee cups. Keep Cups have a range of unique, customisable options that mean nobody is going to be confusing your grande-soy-triple-shot-eggnog-latte with anyone else’s.

Ring Making Workshop
Want something that your intended gift recipient can keep forever and ever? How about a new practical skill? This workshop in London is just like hundreds of others all over the world, where expert jewellers will give you the basic skills to make your own personalised rings.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Honestly, we think Jun is just so enamoured with Extra Virgin Olive Oil that he wants to spread the deliciousness all over the world, but the right bottle can definitely make or break many different meals, so it is well worth slipping into the foodie in your life’s stocking.

Something for the little ones

Kids grow up too fast nowadays, and the old toys we used to give them just can’t hold a candle to… whatever Fortnite is… So here are a few special ideas for the young ones in your lives:

Do you fear that the young person in your life is going to make a foolish decision and permanently mark their skin with the meme of the week? Have no fear, Inkbox provide painless tattoos that last 8 to 18 days, so they can experiment without permanence.

Rolli Beatmaker
The worst gift that you can give any parent is a drum-kit for their child, so why not upgrade your technology and throw in a pair of headphones to keep the “beats” contained with the Rolli Beatmaker. Finger-drumming at its finest.

And so without further ado, we must depart on a frantic last minute gift gathering excursion of our very own. Happy shopping everyone!

November 2018’s Coolest Things Mon, 03 Dec 2018 14:11:07 +0000 November 2018’s Coolest Things

November is already behind us, the long winter up ahead. We really need something to brighten up these dull days and what could be better than a list of all the coolest things that we found on the internet this month? Nothing. The correct answer is nothing. It was a rhetorical question.

Every month in the Labs slack channel we all compete to find the coolest of the cool. This list is the cream of the crop!

A Manufacturing Robot’s Diversity Letter

Riffing on the rather infamous little memo that was sent around Google HQ by a now mysteriously unemployed member of staff, this little letter is obviously a humorous spoof, but it also inadvertently highlights a few of the ways that automation is actually the superior option for certain roles, allowing humanity’s soft skills to come to the fore in the workplace.

Contactless Costa Coffee Cup

You may think that this was chosen simply because of our love of alliteration, but in fact the reusable coffee cup that Costa are rolling out is a neat new attempt to get ahead of the curve and eliminate a pain point in the customer service experience. With almost 25% of all digital payments in the USA being made through the Starbucks App, the competition really needs to step up their game.

Image of contactless costa coffee cup

Unboxing Chrome

This fascinating post about the 10-year anniversary redesign of Google Chrome transforms almost immediately into a design history of web-browsers in general before diving into the way that mobile browsing transformed browsers and shaped the core design philosophy of the Chrome application. A fundamental devotion to being as invisible as it is possible to be, while still offering great UX.

The Arrival

This beautiful little video about the beauty of the arrival hall in the airport was produced by Scandinavian Airlines. The real beauty of the video, beyond the visuals and the sweet message, is that it is such a subtle form of lifestyle advertising that bypasses the usual pitfalls of pushing the creators’ services, instead focusing on creating the desire to use those services as a by-product of the desire to travel.

That is all that we have time for this month, but rest assured, the colder and darker it gets out there, the more time we are going to spend huddled up inside browsing the internet and trying to one up each other with neat little links. Come back next time for more cool things and our big roundup of all the absolute 100% coolest things from the whole year!

Design thinking to improve candidate experience Thu, 08 Jun 2017 15:21:26 +0000 Design thinking to improve candidate experience

Our parent organization, Sutherland, asked us to experiment with new ways of approaching existing recruitment challenges through a Design Thinking approach.

talent acquisition workshop


In an extremely competitive marketplace, how might we better attract the right talent? How can we improve retention by better understanding the end-to-end recruitment and employment journey of our employees? These are some of the questions Sutherland Labs have been tackling in our own organization – working alongside our Talent Acquisition teams.


We used immersive research to ‘walk in candidates shoes’ to understand a candidate journey throughout the recruitment process. We created behavioral personas, helping to segment, identify ‘star’ target audiences and better understand their idiosyncrasies. We also created journey maps that gave a visual representation which help to articulate pain points and crucial insight that often lead to ideas for improvements and solutions.

Talent acquisition journey maps


The insights helped our colleagues to reframe the story during the recruitment process, which in turn impacted their messaging, advertising and social media activity. The results have included a significant increase in social media followers and engagement, following a reworked advertising campaign. The project also contributed towards wider strategic goals of improving employee engagement, and aided a change of mindset within HR functions.

Rethinking in-hospital entertainment Tue, 14 Jun 2016 10:17:09 +0000 Rethinking in-hospital entertainment

Our client, global provider of hospital entertainment systems, asked us to analyze customer experience of their current system and inform the design of a cleverly user-centric new one.

TV remote and tablet


TV, radio, games, other interactive content: hospital bedside entertainment has the power to positively transform patient experience. But many patients in this study were not engaging with our client’s current system and opting instead to use their own devices. We were called on to conduct deep analysis of patient needs. Our findings then inspired the design of a revolutionary new system – to make hospital stays infinitely more entertaining.


From registering for the first time, to tuning in to the radio or finding a good film, we first identified key user tasks. We then conducted interviews with staff, patients and family members across different wards – Elderly, Stroke, Children, etc. – to find out how these tasks could be carried out most efficiently. Insights from discussions, interviews, focus groups and a visit to the client call centre were then translated into different personae and journey maps. The outcome? As many as 50 different propositions to guide development of the new system.


These propositions included: a friendlier, more accessible user interface; a promotional loop on the homepage to raise key feature awareness; a simplified VOC library structure to enable easy browsing; and extended account management features for families to enable them to make purchases on a patient’s behalf.

Hospital ward
Designing a better patient experience Tue, 07 Jun 2016 13:37:57 +0000 Designing a better patient experience

From billing and online payment to registration and insurance, effective healthcare requires effective administration. And, for a joint study by Sutherland Healthcare and its non-profit partner, this was a starting premise.

User on iPad


Our globally renowned healthcare client asked us to observe administration across its facilities and decipher what was working well, and where there was room for improvement – with a focus on billing, registration, online activity, signage and numerous other non-clinical issues.


Our starting point was to closely observe over 100 patients and staff in a variety of settings across its two hospitals and contact centre, considering factors such as environment, education and general operations in order to enhance day-to-day experiences. Our six main areas of exploration were as follows: transition from paper to online processes; online self-service; medical payment issues; education and awareness of costs in relation to healthcare; healthcare insurance; and the possible overuse of brochures and posters in medical environments.


Our research enabled us to identify pain points in the customer and staff journeys and to offer inspired solutions. These included: a new patient portal providing self-service registration and access to clinical information; text message reminders and late running notifications; a mobile app updating family members on patient status; cost estimator tools to make costs more transparent; online application and payment for financial aid; a loyalty programme; and a new strategy to increase awareness and uptake of health insurance exchanges.

Doctors walking in hospital
Designing a roadmap to customer loyalty Fri, 01 Apr 2016 13:37:40 +0000 Designing a roadmap to customer loyalty

Enhanced customer experience equals greater customer loyalty. And for one client, a successful pet services retailer, this is what we set out to achieve.

Pet store dog beds


What does the future hold? This particular client envisioned a future full of opportunity, one in which their loyal customers reaped the benefits of better services and experiences. But they needed our help in shaping this vision and transforming bright ideas into positive actions.


The challenge was to improve customer loyalty by identifying opportunities for innovation and better aligning customer experience, at the same as exploring the potential for moving certain services online. Sutherland’s ethnographic researchers sprang into action – observing and interviewing over 100 employees, partners and customers, at home as well as in store, to build up an-in depth picture of their experiences. Insights were then shared with the client through documentary film and behavioral profiles of common customer types.


Our research led to greater understanding of the drivers of customer loyalty, and provided the basis for suggestions on how to make pet-lover customers happier. These suggestions ranged from improved mobile scheduling and in-store product placement to the development of more effective employee training methods – illustrated through vision maps for a brighter, better future.

Dog check up
Bringing a health insurer closer to its customers Mon, 14 Mar 2016 10:16:54 +0000 Bringing a health insurer closer to its customers

A strategy for smarter, more concise digital communications and a refreshed, customer-centric mindset: this is what we achieved for this rapidly expanding health insurance multinational.

Journey mapping workshop


Our client, a global provider of health insurance, wanted to reconnect with its customers. Having grown significantly through acquisition, in order become a company that today spans cultures, countries and time zones, they asked us to help re-centre customer experience and restore coherence to their channels of communication.


You can’t connect with customers without understanding them, so our research team analyzed the personae of the company’s key customer groups, involving stakeholders across its business – from IT to sales, operations or customer service. Our creative team then presented initial insights via reports, films and journey maps, before validating them with customer focus groups.


We helped our client develop a customer-centric mindset internally, gaining deeper understanding of the needs and behavior of its predominantly senior customer base, while developing a brand new digital roadmap for the years ahead. And while education starts at home, we also delivered board-level educational sessions to raise awareness of the benefits of customer-centric design – leading, ultimately, to a more unified company vision.

Patient being examined