Sutherland Innovation Labs Service design to improve customer and employee experiences. Mon, 25 May 2020 07:19:27 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 Copyright 2020, Sutherland Innovation Labs - Sutherland Innovation Labs Service design to improve customer and employee experiences. Lab Cast: Remote Research Thu, 21 May 2020 15:46:28 +0100 Lab Cast: Remote Research

As lockdown continues remote research as a tool is more important that ever in order to stay connected to users, and to ensure that research programmes are kept on track.  In this Lab Cast Simon Herd, Director of Design Research, explains how we plan, set up and run remote research. Plus he shares some tips on how to keep observers engaged and foster remote collaboration.

If you are planning upcoming research or need any further information about what was discussed in the video please get in touch with Simon Herd, or take a look at our latest series of blog posts for more advice on planning and running remote research. 

A Family Affair: Implications for VOD Recommendations Thu, 21 May 2020 13:50:22 +0100 A Family Affair: Implications for VOD Recommendations

It’s now standard practice for Video on Demand (VOD) services such as Netflix or BBC iPlayer to integrate personalisation for viewing decision support. However, VOD viewing switches between a solo and group activity, and recommendations mechanisms typically don’t reflect this.

Compromise watches can result in future recommendation pollution

Compromise watches can result in future recommendation pollution

Personalisation, and viewing recommendations in particular, are now expected within VOD services. Their value in supporting viewers is demonstrated during 2019 by TiVO who reported that “Providers that use personalisation technology like the Personalised Content Discovery platform, churn up to three times less than providers who manually merchandise their content.” So recommendations are clearly here to stay, but they’re currently a one-size fits all solution. We’ve found that programme choices do vary by device. Mobile phones and tablets are more suited to solo viewing, both due to size and the context they’re used within, so personalised recommendations are a strong fit.

However, this starts to break down when viewing is on the TV, where viewing is much more likely to be by multiple household members. In fact, over 75% of all VOD consumed in the UK happens on a TV. Household viewing is a compromise, seeking the safe middle ground. It’s often led by one person, who makes viewing suggestions based on knowledge of individual tastes and perhaps even having spent time on sites such as Rotten Tomatoes finding good compromise watches. Provider recommendations can thus be caught between highly singular viewing and compromise viewing needs. This also causes Recommendation Pollution, whereby the usefulness of recommendations is further degraded as compromise watches influence future recommendations on their profiles. Parents with young children may find Peppa Pig or My Little Pony popping up within their recommendations alongside the latest episode of Vikings or Narcos for example.

An explicit family viewing profile offers the best recommendations for the context, but adds more complexity to viewer lives

An explicit family viewing profile offers the best recommendations for the context, but adds more complexity to viewer lives

How can VOD recommendations support this duality of viewing? Well, the idea of household and individual accounts within products isn’t new. It’s supported by the likes of Apple, although the inherent complexity of family dynamics can make it difficult to do well.

One option is to focus on optimising recommendations by device, so reality TV and more singular pleasures feature more prominently on solo devices for example. This requires no user effort, but would be least effective and most prone to recommendation pollution.

Some households do create profiles for household and personal use, with the family profile (containing more compromise views) predominating on the TV. This places the greatest burden on the viewer, as it requires more profile switching at the start of viewing. It also involves other trade-offs, for example it may become slightly more difficult to continue watching a partially viewed programme on another device.  This is unlikely to be practical in all but the most diverse households.

The other option is to incorporate a family recommendations panel in any profile on the home page, so it’s always available within a personal profile, but doesn’t predominate. A similar concept exists within Spotify, with Family Mix, which draws on listening history from all members within a Family account. This also includes a mood qualifier to help listeners achieve a further level of depth to recommendations (we’ve found mood a key decision point for joint viewing) and feels an interesting direction for combining personal and household viewing.

Spotify’s Family Mix offers a link to compromise playlists from the home page

Spotify’s Family Mix offers a link to compromise playlists from the home page

Overall, the Spotify model feels the most interesting. In any instance we’d recommend allowing users to fine-tune the recommendations by deleting inappropriate ones, to reduce  recommendations pollution and increase their effectiveness. Effective tuning of auto-recommendations is always challenging, and combining these across a household is an added layer of complexity, but it does reflect how we watch VOD. Even as the number of devices proliferate, singular and joint viewing are likely to remain fundamental behaviours.

Labs Life: Meet Yasmin Rowan Thu, 30 Apr 2020 13:12:29 +0100 Labs Life: Meet Yasmin Rowan

Welcome back to Labs Life, where we give you a behind the scenes insight into the lives of the people that can be found in the London and San Fransisco studios.  Meet our London based Studio Coordinator Yasmin, a textiles guru and world traveller.

All image credit: Sutherland Labs

Explain your job to me like I am a five year old.

I help look after a building in London that has five floors and seven rooms. Different companies come in everyday to use the rooms for events, meetings and research. I help set up the spaces for them and give them all the information they need before they attend such as costs, organising lunch and how to get here.

What did you do before you came to Sutherland?

After studying Textile Design at university in Nottingham, I moved back to my parent’s house in Kent and worked as a barista for just over a year where I grew a real passion for hospitality and looking after people.

I wanted to find a creative work environment where I could express my love for people and Sutherland Labs was a perfect fit.

If I went back in time and asked the ten year old version of you, what would they say that they wanted to be when they grew up?

I grew up in Malaysia for ten years and I was super content climbing trees, exploring with my sister and not really thinking about the future. However I did go through a phase of wanting to be a ballerina…even though I can’t dance to save my life!

What is the unique talent that you bring to Sutherland?

I’d like to think I’m a pretty easy going person, even when under pressure I always think it’s important to stay positive.

What do you do for fun?

I’m always on the hunt for a new exhibition! One of the reasons I love living in London is that there is always something new to see. I’m also a keen cook, so in between looking after clients and exploring London’s galleries you’ll probably find me trying out a new recipe or checking out a recommended restaurant!

All image credit: Sutherland Labs

What inspires you?

I think travelling to new countries is always a great way to get inspired for work or personal life. I love indulging in new cultures, trying new food and discovering new art when I’m in a new place.

How do you see the industry changing in the next few years?

With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the research and event industries are already going through a lot of change. Luckily for our research side of the business we have adapted well to moving remotely!

As for all the team away days, meetings and other events, I am sure we will start to see more things move online too but I’m definitely looking forward to having people back in our spaces so I can look after them again!

Do you have any pets?

Not at the moment sadly. When I was younger I had four turtles, a cat and a dog… in the future I would love to have a dog again!

What has been your best experience while working with Sutherland?

I love the diversity that comes from working at Sutherland.  Being in the studio team means that no two days are the same, wether it be setting up the studios for a client, running a recruitment project or organising catering for an event!  I have also really enjoyed being able to meet such a wide range of people that come through the doors at Short’s Gardens.  All of these different experiences have stretched and helped me to grow as a person.

Thanks Yasmin! Look out for the next edition of Labs life where you will get to meet the next member of the team.  

Remote Research: 10 tips to keep observers engaged Mon, 20 Apr 2020 14:48:48 +0100 Remote Research: 10 tips to keep observers engaged

UX research has decisively moved online in response to Covid-19 and a lot of recent attention has rightly been paid to how to do this well. However, a big part of the reason why UX teams gather at face-to-face testing is that it provides a forum for active observation and immediate issue resolution as teams jointly annotate printed screenshots on white walls or write vast numbers of post-it note observations.

All image credit: Sutherland Labs

All image credit: Sutherland Labs

When an observer watches remotely, there’s huge potential for distraction and disengagement, so this collaborative dynamic can be lost and sessions become less agile. We’re acutely aware of this danger so have some guidelines to help avoid it.

Introduce active observation plans when you invite observers

  • Observers planning their day may be thinking about some multi-tasking alongside their viewing, as a result of passively observing in the past. A basic briefing about your plans for active observation and guidelines for participation before the session will help to overcome this.

Set observer expectations about minimum specs they’ll need

  • If you’re observing remotely, you’ll probably be using a laptop or similar device. Inform observers of any minimum specs for the computer or laptop they intend observing on. Some online collaboration tools don’t work well with low specs, so this helps avoid frustration during the session.

Consider timezones

  • If you’re likely to have international observers, some shifting of session times may encourage them to observe. We don’t encourage wholesale timeshifting,  as the ease of session recruitment is paramount, but there may be a happy medium, for example starting later in the morning for European sessions watched in the U.S.

Provide a collaboration forum

  • In research studios, white walls and printed screenshots are the focal point of active observation. You can replicate these by using tools such as Mural and  Miro, to share screen-flows and post-it notes online.
  • The tools are simple to use, but it also helps observers if they try the tool before the first session starts. Creating an online board for first-time users before the session can help them to make the most of the experience.

Pilot, pilot, pilot

  • Pilot your use of collaboration tools in the same way you trial the user  session format. Once you’ve set them up, get a team member to work through to check it will work as expected and core items (such as screenflows) are locked to prevent accidental deletion by over-enthusiastic observers.

Use a prototyping platform which allows immediate update

  • We advise against knee-jerk design changes during test days, but it can be very useful to make design changes once trends become clear to observers. Use of an online prototyping tool, rather than relying on downloads makes this easier for remote research.
  • There are exceptions to this, for example if testing in a country with poor bandwidth, but it’s a good general principle.

Actively manage the analysis process

  • Observation room analysis sessions always work better when a team member leads the analysis. They ensure meaningful insights and suggestions  are not lost within a blizzard of post-it notes. The same principle applies even more online.
  • Use the collaboration tool online chat feature to guide and prompt for response, for example if some areas of the screenflow are sparsely commented.

Maintain a level of separation from the user

  • You’re encouraging engaged observers, but it can go too far. Ensure that any  observer questions are addressed via the facilitator rather than going directly to the participant. There may be very good reasons for the question, but it can unnecessarily pre-empt the facilitator and send the session off-track.
  • This issue can arise if the same tool (e.g. Zoom or Google Meet) is used for both  connecting to the user and the observers, but settings for chat, audio and video are not controlled before the session.
Image credit: Sutherland Labs

Image credit: Sutherland Labs

Create moments of observer engagement

  • When attending face-to-face sessions, ad hoc analysis often happens between sessions, at lunchtime or the end of day. You can also schedule these when observing online. Do make prospective observers aware of them before testing begins, otherwise it’s easy for them to drop out of remote observation at the end of session blissfully unaware of the impending wash up session.
  • If you’re testing in a country with poor bandwidth, workarounds are possible,  for example, uploading videos straight after the session and scheduling the wash up at the end of each half day of testing can help remote observers track and engage with what’s happening and contribute before the next half day begins.

Don’t forget useful tool features

  • Tools such as Zoom have features such as auto-transcription, which can be  very helpful for rapid analysis if shared with observers once the file is processed. The transcript provides an easy shortcut to replay the relevant video moment, so pointing observers towards this after the session can help them assimilate what’s happened if they couldn’t observe in real time.

If you would like more information on remote research then please get in touch with Simon Herd or one of the team and take a look at our recent blog posts on the topic.

Global Tips for Conducting Remote Focus Groups during COVID-19 Thu, 16 Apr 2020 13:16:02 +0100 Global Tips for Conducting Remote Focus Groups during COVID-19

The article below was first published by the UXalliance and suggests how to continue to utilise remote focus groups as a research technique during Covid-19.  With careful preplanning the potential challenges can be easily overcome and the results yielded from remote research can be extremely rewarding.

A focus group is a qualitative research method based on group discussions, beliefs and opinions, with a focus on what people say vs what they do. It’s a quick research technique to collect data to discover trends and opportunities. In a regular focus group, 7–9 participants are invited to the discussion which is guided by a moderator, a session lasts about 2 hours.

COVID-19 is currently affecting the execution of regular focus groups, as we need to ensure social distancing. We recommend running focus groups remotely, with all the participants in the video call and the moderator leading the discussion.

Image credit: UXalliance

Image credit: UXalliance

Remote focus groups can be tricky, but the challenges can quickly be overcome if you are prepared to adjust a few things and the results can be comparable to as in-person groups.

Here are some quick tips:

1. Adjust, consider and plan more

  • Limit the number of each group to 4–5 participants, to ensure there is opportunity for all participants to have their say, remain engaged, and reduce strain on the moderator. More effort might be needed to make sure you recruit the right profiles and sample (mainstream vs extremes), or you could consider running additional online focus groups to ensure you cover all your recruitment profiles. In some cases, running a focus group remotely makes it possible to recruit participants across the entire country, as they do not have to come to one specific research location.
  • An online confidentiality agreement can be sent to each participant and signed ahead of time, or gathered online using a tool such as Signable. Alternatively, read the agreement before you start the session, and ask each participant to agree by voice and record the answer: Do you agree to…? YES, NO.
  • Incentives can be paid easily through bank transfer or with an online voucher (e.g. Amazon gift card) if agreed upfront. Paypal Money Transfer is a good option for international focus groups. Alternatively, the session recruiter can often administer payments for you, but will charge a fee for this and may require this money to be paid to them in advance.
  • Keep session time to 60–90 minutes online, instead of more common time of 2 hours for in-person groups. There is not a hard rule about this, but 2 hours is just that little bit harder for people to stay focused and there may also be distractions for some working from home.

2. Find the right online platform and tools

Video-conferencing tools

The tools you chose should allow face to face interaction with the participants, video recording and streaming. Ideally participants can access the session by clicking on a link without need to install any software. There are a few options available on the market: Zoom, GoToMeeting, Teams, WebEx, Hangouts are some widely used examples.

Image credit: Sutherland Labs

It’s sometimes useful to break out groups into sub groups or private spaces and this is a common feature of many video conferencing tools. They do require careful management. For instance, it’s always worth keeping a phone number handy if any participants struggle to reenter the main session.

When moderating focus-group related to healthcare some participants might want to keep a private meeting space preserving their anonymity and privacy. Some tools allow the participants to use an avatar to preserve privacy. It might be a bit difficult to keep track on who said what:

Collaboration tools

There are interesting collaborative tools to support remote focus groups, such a Whimsical, Miro and Mural. These tools are not meant as an alternative to the videoconferencing tool, but can be used to do some brief exercises with the participants during the session. They replace in a certain way the whiteboard or flipchart that is used in the sessions.

Image credit: Sutherland Labs

Some example exercises are collective brainstorm activities in which the participants write down ideas on virtual post-it notes, plotting post-it notes in a matrix or map to prioritize items, or simply keeping track of inspiration and solutions that come up during the session in a visual way. The moderator sends the participants a link to access a visual workspace where they can collaborate simultaneously or simply observe while the moderator is using the virtual whiteboard (e.g. writing notes, plotting post-it’s on a map).

The tools generally work well and can add real dynamism to the session, but time taken in preparation of these exercises is always well spent. Where sub group exercises are happening during the session, an additional pair of eyes to observe and facilitate can also really help.

Survey tools

Besides the collaborative tools, it is also possible to ask participants to individually respond to a few questions by completing an online survey (e.g. Surveymonkey, Google forms) and share the results in real-time to the group as input for a discussion. Or use online polling tools to keep people engaged at key points (e.g. Pollev, Mentimeter).

The polls can be used in different ways, depending on the needs of the session. They can be used alongside collaboration tools, as a mechanism to keep users engaged, and gather real data for discussion. However, a different approach is possible where a less collaborative approach is needed, for example where qualitative data is more important in gathering feedback on a concept idea. In this instance, a less dynamic format can involve more users (over 20), with data primarily coming from polls, questionnaires and online discussion.

3. Adapt the discussion guide

  • The discussion guide needs to be written for online. In order to keep the time slot narrow down the discussion guide to 3 or 5 key topics
  • Include enough time for introductions and for participants to become comfortable in the session to ensure individuals engage with one another
  • Carefully consider how you will share information or artefacts/stimuli with each other. Will you ask people to have a note-pad with them so they can hold up short answers to questions? Will you share your screen? Will you need others to share their screens? Will you use online collaborative tools? Will you share stimuli before the session? Can you achieve your goals through discussion only? All of these options are viable, make sure you decide beforehand and familiarise with any new technology and instruct clients as appropriate before the session.

4. Plan for a moderator and a note-taker

All the usual skills for moderating groups are still needed so make sure you have a skilled moderator. Above the usual skills, the moderator should not be afraid of technological challenges. The moderator should be familiar with the technology in case any participants are experiencing trouble for example, can’t hear the moderator.

Always have a notetaker to ensure the moderator can focus on the group, and keep eyes on the monitor. It is more difficult to follow the discussion if not watching all the time.

All the usual skills for moderating groups are still needed so make sure you have a skilled moderator.

5. International focus groups

Get a simultaneous interpreter onboard. The interpreter translates the moderator and participant’s words in real-time and online. There might be a slight delay before the interpreter starts interpreting and also when interpretation is online and depending on the bandwidth, there might be a slight delay (a few seconds) because of the simultaneous Interpretation platform through their laptop or desktop computer. Some interpreters won’t feel comfortable with real-time remote live interpretations, in order to do it they’ll need a quality headset and microphone, and be familiar with video conferencing software.

Some Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) like are very efficient and offer the service in many languages, these types of tools are very useful when executing international usability testing as well.

6. Test the technology with the participants ahead of the group interview

Ensure participants are able to use the selected platform by sending them a test link to try before the session. Some platforms provide a test link. Alternatively, use different links for each group so that they can test out the link using the same meeting ID as the one for the research to reduce any confusion.

Participants should test the link on the platform and on the device they will participate with in the exact location to make sure there are no issues including security issues which might stop them from downloading some plug-ins. This should be done well before the session time in case troubleshooting is required.Consider whether the recruiter can manage this process.

7. Conduct the group discussions

All the usual skills for conducting a group session apply but you might also consider:

  • Asking participants to sign in 10–15 minutes before the session so you have time to chat with each participant to ensure cameras, mics etc., all working.
  • Prepare cards for each participant with the participants name and key facts, it will help keeping track and direct appropriate questions.
  • It helps to order the cards in front of you to mirror the arrangement on the screen (if possible, some platforms rearrange depending on who is talking).
  • If necessary, take issues “off-line” in discussion with participants at the end of the session.

8. Manage remote stakeholders

When working on international projects, because of the time difference between you and your clients, clients might only be able to watch certain sessions so you might do a more detailed end of day debrief than you would normally do.

Stream sessions that are being watched live. Recordings are usually available to download an hour or so after the session and are usually better quality for viewing.

If you have live observers who may want to ask clarifying questions, select a channel outside of the platform for testing, e.g, Slack or WhatsApp and allow people to leave questions there. You can build points in the discussion where you ask any questions that have banked up. Often you will only get to these questions towards the end of the discussion.

9. Collect data

Mostly this will be the same as for an in-person group. If you use online collaborations tools to gather input during the sessions you’ll have that content, rather than collecting pieces of paper during the session.

10. Report and present results

Not different from any reporting apart from time difference when working on international projects.

Keep Calm and Carry On running Focus Groups!

Overall, if you’re well prepared, the challenge of conducting a remote focus group can be overcome easily and the results are very rewarding. This technique is now increasingly being adopted across the globe, so it’s time to give it a try, if you haven’t done it yet.

]]> A Smarter Approach to Customer Support Tue, 28 Apr 2020 16:19:00 +0100 A Smarter Approach to Customer Support

Our client wanted their digital customer support to work better for customers.

They began by looking at the current experience in a holistic way, involving both their customers and their own support agents.

Customer Journey Maps and Personas identify pain points and reveal opportunities for innovation

Customer Journey Maps and Personas identify pain points and reveal opportunities for innovation

The Challenge

Our client, a major technology brand, needed to make improvements to the support experience for their digital work tools. While analytics had identified pain points in distinct areas of the experience they lacked a full picture of how customers were using their digital support channels, or the role that customer service agents played in that process.

To build an effective strategy for the future they needed to understand real customer behaviors around support.

The Approach

Over a series of engagements we helped our client gain a better knowledge of the end-to-end support experience of customers, as well as gather intelligence from their own customer support agents.

Workplace Shadowing with Agents and Home Visits with Customers

We spent time with both customers and agents in their own environments, observing each as they dealt with support issues in real time. Immersive research methods helped us to reveal both the issues users could vocalize, plus unspoken needs and desires. Furthermore we explored problem solving strategies and the language or terminology used by customers and agents to feed into the design of a future support experience.

Customer Journey Mapping and Personas

Our team translated research insights into Customer Journey Maps, providing a holistic view of support journeys for key customer types. These maps, alongside rich behavior based personas helped to identify further pain points and opportunity areas – such as the desire among users for greater self-serve.

Prototyping the Future Support Experience

To inform future design direction, our UX designers produced wireframes to be used as tools to illustrate, test and refine design recommendations as they might appear in future support journeys.

The Results

Our engagements have provided the client deep insight into what makes an ideal support experience from both customers and their own agents. This has been instrumental in shaping their future digital experience.

70+ design recommendations were implemented to improve the overall support experience, including navigation, page design, terminology, content.

40% reduction in support volume since improvements to navigation, self-serve channels and UI design.

Reimagining Graduate Hiring in Healthcare Thu, 21 Nov 2019 15:59:44 +0100 Reimagining Graduate Hiring in Healthcare

Our client wanted to rethink their entire approach to hiring graduates.

The global healthcare and pharmaceutical brand was investing in graduate programmes in EMEA, but a low proportion of these graduates converted into full time positions.

Graduate insights report

The Challenge

Leaders were questioning the effectiveness of graduate hiring in EMEA, and wanted to see a more strategic approach that would better serve the needs of the business. The hiring and retention of new capabilities is critical to the long term health of the organization and for building a talent pipeline for the future.

We devised an approach to help our client understand pain points in the current graduate experience, identify opportunities for innovation, and to build a strategic roadmap for the future.


Research activities

The Approach

Voice of the Customer Research

We knew that exploring graduate needs was important, but to improve internal confidence and create a shared vision for the future we wanted to view the challenge from many different perspectives. To gain a wide view we began with a ‘voice of the customer’ study, during which our teams carried out over 150 in depth interviews and focus groups with business leaders, HR and Talent leaders, graduates and hiring managers from 5 key sites across the organization.

Strategy Workshops

Next, we analyzed and unpacked these insights in collaborative workshops with the client, mapping out graduate journeys and creating behavior based personas. These artefacts were used as communication aids internally, and also helped to illustrate design recommendations to create a more user friendly user experience.

All activities fed into and culminated in a clear and executable strategy for graduate hiring, which was tailored to be delivered to different levels of the organisation.


“When you’re designing workplace systems to support graduates you need a deep understanding of their needs, behaviors and expectations.”

Anton Artemenkov – Creative Director, Sutherland Labs

The Results

Strategic Roadmap

We helped to develop a holistic, multi-year, EMEA-wide strategy for graduate hiring and development which received full leadership support.

Key insights were translated into workstreams spanning Planning, Attraction, Selection, Onboarding, and Development stages of the graduate journey.

The client has since launched a Planning Toolkit to help capture capability and business needs and ensure they are hiring strategically for the future. As well as, a  new ‘go to market’ approach on campus and a marketing campaign to enhance their Attraction strategy.

“The VOC Research has really helped us to accelerate this initiative and ensure we have the customer at the centre of our approach – thank you!”

Vice President HR EMEA, Global Healthcare and Pharmaceutical brand 

]]> An Employee Led Digital Workplace Strategy Wed, 23 Oct 2019 14:43:23 +0100 An Employee Led Digital Workplace Strategy

Our client had ambitious plans to improve the daily working lives of employees.

The financial institution had a workforce and working practices were disparate and varied, spanning 7,000 employees in 25 countries. They wanted to build a strategy for digital channels and workplace tools that would increase productivity, build community and lead to more contented employees overall.

The Challenge

To develop a strategy to meet these aims and increase the likelihood of employee adoption, we needed to ground ourselves in the needs of their employees. Our goal was to understand employees day to day challenges and pain points, their preferred tools and workarounds, and to do this at scale to account for employees in multiple locations across the world.

Exploring employee needs

The Approach

To capture insights from a large number of employees we began with a survey, which helped us to refine the focus for subsequent rounds of immersive fieldwork. Over the next 2 months, our team travelled to six countries to interview and shadow a range of employees in their own work environments to understand their workflows, day-to-day working practices, tools, and obstacles. We also used remote interviews to reach employees in another six countries, and to ensure we covered a representative range of roles and responsibilities.

I used to think innovation was in motion here, but I just don’t see it happening as quickly as it should be. Or it’s change for no apparent reason.

Sample participant

Employees in the workplace

The Output

The insights from all rounds of research gave our client a rich picture of how employees really work, including the organisational culture, tools and processes, and current challenges. This fed into their overall digital workplace strategy, with more specific outputs including:

  • Behavior-based personas as a tool for creating empathy for employees amongst stakeholders making strategic decisions.
  • Digital channel strategy recommendations including collaboration tools and internal communications, broken down into quick wins and long term goals.
  • Employee experience best practices which were rolled out as use cases across the business.
Design thinking to improve candidate experience Thu, 08 Jun 2017 15:21:26 +0100 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 +0100 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