How a global telecom company became a market leader in SIM card activation time using Design Thinking
Improving Customer Satisfaction for a Global Telecom by Significantly Reducing SIM Card Activation Time by 80%
In a world driven by the expansion of connectivity and smartphone sales, the demand for voice services and activation of SIM cards is still the norm. One large telecom operator noticed a high return and rejection rates on their pre-paid SIM cards, after the activation process, resulting in an annual deficit close to a million.
MJV came onboard with its expertise in methodologies focused on the user to fight the waste, understand the needs of the clients and the operator and the consumption habits of pre-paid mobiles.
Stories from points of sales and user habits
In this context, we began a Design Thinking process to identify the needs and perceptions of the user throughout the experience of activating their mobile line, thus getting to know their habits in depth.
During immersion, we visited stores in the city of São Paulo to listen to consumers. The SIM cards are offered by several distributors and newsstands act as relevant points of sale. Therefore, sellers at newsstands were also heard, so as to gain more insights.
During this stage, a peculiar behavior caught our eye: about 10% of users returned to the seller to exchange the SIM card. The most common perception was that a factory defect was causing activation failure. Amongst the most common behaviors at points of sale were:
- Exchange at the point of sale and purchase of a new mobile line from the operator to redo the activation journey
- Discarding the previous SIM card and purchasing another from the same operator to redo the process
- Discarding and not going through with the activation and purchasing a new SIM card from a competitor
Lead time and interruption marketing
During interviews with employees from the operators, we were introduced to the concept of lead time, which represents the time in the activation journey. Identifying the necessary steps, we noticed ten actions, twice as much as the fastest operator. It was the slowest lead time in the market.
Cross-checking information from users and employees, we found some factors that related to the bottlenecks in the process, such as the need to call customer service and the confusion caused by sending promotional messages alongside the instructions on how to activate the SIM card via SMS.
Some other relevant issues:
- Difficulty understanding the step by step instructions;
- Unskilled in how to use the device;
- Messages with instructions arriving out of order;
- Loss of information and deadlines for interaction when switching channels (for instance, from the customer service call to SMS).
By the end of the analysis, the deficiencies in the activation process were clear. We reframed the challenge and turned out attention to the user journey.
Constructing the User Journey
Based on the most common problems faced by users during the activation process, personas were created and journeys built for each of them, from purchasing the sim card until the final decision to discard or exchange it.
Based on this information, co-creation workshops were organized with internal teams to create empathy and ideas. Collaborators were split into groups, which were responsible for coming up with a new activation experience for each persona, taking into account their specific problems.
The need to shorten the stages and keep the user within the same context of information was unanimous. And the idea to include a USSD registration, based on menus, was also a common denominator in all the proposed solutions.
The USSD is a technology for real-time communication, similar to SMS. The difference is that this one supports more characters, allowing for more detailed instructions. The protocol also does not require a deadline for interactions, ensuring that the user does not miss information relevant to the process, respecting his learning curve throughout the process and skills with the device.
By the end of the ideation sessions, we decided to go with the redesign of the activation interface, the maximum reduction in the number of channels used, as well as the creation of more assertive instruction texts.
A new activation experience
To create a new experience in practice, our UX designers and the innovation team created and validated usable prototypes, redrawing the entire modus operandi of the activation.
Amongst the proposed improvements are: exclusion of promotional messages, which reduced the 12 original interactions to 10, implementation of the USSD protocol, and screen redesign. Together, these solutions eliminated the call to customer service, shortening the process even more.
The solution was able to reduce the activation time by up to 80%. The average duration, between 5 and 10 minutes, feel to 2 minutes maximum.
Reaching the top: building the best lead time in the market
Design Thinking, the methodologies focused on the user and the usability tests of the platforms helped the operator improve the experience during the activation process, from end to end.
The perception of stakeholders and the operator on the value of the project was very positive and the results reached were significant.
Reduction of the duration of the pre-paid SIM card activation process of up to 80%.
Amongst the secondary results are:
- The decrease in waste relative to the discarding and returning of unactuated sim cards;
- The increase in the conversion rates in the activation process;
- The best lead time between competitors.
The Project helped bring a competitive advantage to one of the largest telecom operators in the world, transforming a long and convoluted process, into the quickest activation in the market.