Simplifying
Complex Work
CSR Assistant

I led design for an enterprise cloud app that helped customer service representatives turn around digital buying at a global chemical corporation.

In 2021, a large global chemical manufacturing company heard complaints from customers about the customer support for their digital buying experience on the website. Our team was brought in to streamline suite of support tools to improve their worker's productivity. Deeper discovery into the problem revealed issues with the complexity of their user experience was the real problem we needed to solve.

I delivered a new enterprise user experience that simplified work for front-line customer support workers while cutting costs $600K and reducing $4 million in waste for the business.

Employed at Avanade
(Client: Global Chemical Producer)

My Role

Sr. UX Designer and Lead UI Designer
I was part of a 12 person muliti-functional agile team and I mainly worked with the Product Manager, the client’s Product Owner, as well as our 2 front-end developers.

Contribution

The Problem

Complex tools making customer experience complicated

Customer service Reps (CSRs) have a complex role in product delivery as sales support and as front-line customer support. The work experience is made complex because of they had to learn tons of workflows and tons of data.

When the company heard grumblings from their MVP customers that the online buying experience was full of inconsistencies. They brought me in to improve their user experience with their tools and make them easier to learn and use.

Key Role I Played

Why will this project be any different?

We were surprised to learn about conflicting initiatives inside the company within weeks of our soft launch. Many tools in the company portfolio had failed after launched. I educated the team & our client how my human-centered approach would make a difference.

My discovery strategy was to show how understanding the user at a different level allows for impactful design goals.

Discovery Strategy

Insight

The client expectation their usual discovery level which provided task level data.

What do users need to do?

Task performed, job description, role

What is the use case context?

When, where (setting), how often

Approach

My discovery strategy was to draw an influence-based view of user's story.

What do users struggle with?

Pains, barriers, desired outcomes

The project scope did not include direct contact for research, here’s how I adapted my plan.

Research Methods

Client Impact

Demonstrate the value of a human-centered approach

"Not only make the user experience simpler, but change workers lives, show the business the farther reaching problems caused by their approach to their tech portfolio."

How might I bring user into discussions?

Challenge

The client had very 1-dimensional corporate documents and was eager to provide directive solutioning.

Task based Approach learnings

Customer Service Representative

(CSRs) are full-time employees, usually entry-level career stage. The role is responsible for online customer transactions, customer service and coordinating with supply chain, and sales to help manage inventory.

Tasks
Vs

Influence-based approach Learnings

Backup Teammate

Needs notes & contacts to collaborate
Needs the tool to have personalized content
Language barrier is an obstacle

Veteran mentor

Poor experience with past software rollouts
Often uses workarounds & hacks
Needs more knowledge management & governance

Home Laptop

Very limited screen space
Recent graduate, lifestyle transition
Connectivity impacts data freshenss
Isolation and mental health issues

Career Grower

Limited experience with company culture
Motivated by moving up in career
Overwhelmed with priorities and learning

Insight

Inconsistent customer experience was the symptom because of big elephant in the room, a complex suite of tools.

Connecting UX design to pains of complex work

I learned that poor learnability and usability caused employees not to trust company tools. Which influenced certain CSRs to use workarounds and led to inconsistent customer experience.

Adding more tools makes my work confusing, so I just don’t use them. Besides that the company’s internal tools are usually clunky and redundant. That last dashboard is not better than my homegrown spreadsheet.

Themes from some of the users pains
Overwhelmed CSR stuggle with many separate interfaces
User Problems
Business Problems
Single integrated experience. 
Empower CSRs with insights for customer experience.
User Benefits
Business Outcomes
Overwhelmed CSR stuggle with many separate interfaces
User Problems
Business Problems
Single integrated experience. 
Empower CSRs with insights for customer experience.
User Benefits
Business Outcomes

I translated the value of my work into business needs.

Company invests a full-time employee as a 90-day mentor just to get new CSRs capable with tools.

Mentor Employee Salary =
Est. $60,000.00/yr
Mentoring hours = 20 - 30 hrs/wk$580.00 - $870.00/wk
Program lasts 12 weeks (90 days)$6,960.00
Total 600 CSRs (10% New Employees)
____________________________________________
$417,600.00 - 626,400.00
Reducing the need for the mentor program would cut costs $418,000 - 626,000 per year

The client built at least 2 other applications to solve this same problem but only about 2 out of 5 users (40%) are using.

Avg. cost of a complex enterprise project
Cost to launch$2,000,000.00
Avg. cost for annual maintenance (80%)$1,600.000.00/yr
X 2 other projects$7,200,000.00
____________________________________________
Cost $12,000.00 per CSR
360 CSRs (60% not using)
$4,320,000.00
Improving usage rate could save $4.3 million wasted from unused software

Interface Design

Designing features from discovery insights

In total I worked more than 50 agile stories over 14 months, below are a couple from core functionality.

Orchestrating it all in a single window

Instead or replacing other tools I designed a system that integrated more than 21 APIs to make an experience that pulled in data from other tools. There were tables with 10s of thousands of rows and 30-40 columns.

350px super slim screen

User Stories

Backup Teammate

Manuel logs in and supports his North American team mate who is away on PTO. He leaves notes about a blocked order and can easily find a plant contact for a delivery.

Office setup
Mobile 2nd Screen
Career Grower

Sara, just started her new role with the team and she agreed to work hybrid part of the week. She uses the app on her phone as a research tool, if she is by her computer it is like second screen. Her table settings sync when she gets back to her laptop. it has changed the way she uses the other tools now.

Laptop connectivity
Home Laptop

Jennifer, a CSR trainee works from home on a laptop. The codes and data learning is still a struggle, but the customizable data preferences, the contextual hover interaction, the icons and the next best action features make using the app easier to practice than it was learning in training.

Automatically serves contextual data

Scroll in a window or file and the companion automatically displays helpful data. Instead of having to open several window and maintain many different files, everything can be done in a single window.

The companion was so much easier! It reduced the training needs and reduced the cognitive load of remembering tons of different file names and codes and data was easier to maintain.

Controls for collaboration and speedy refresh

Screens auto refresh in the background every 2 minutes.

While data sync control enables collaboration between CSR groups.

CSR Assistant

The app had 4 screens for prioritizing, customer lookup, order lookup and managing inventory.

I can share a full overview of product design features,  more design samples and even my approach to designing the user adoption strategy.

Outcomes

employees said "the information is more proactive" in the application.

employees described the app as “a simple user interface to manage desk activities.”

The real time data saves time and improves company culture.