A leading Philippines telecommunication company requested our team to investigate and determine why previously loyal mobile data customers were abandoning their brand for competitors.
PLDT is the leading telecommunications and digital services provider in the Philippines.
I served as the UX Designer for the team. I assisted with research activities by helping with the audio and video equipment, guided the creation of presentation materials, and was responsible for the archival of insights and project assets.
My team consisted of two researchers and a program manager. All team members had been hired recently presenting me the opportunity to provide guidance around our unique research methodology.
We were tasked with executing an extended research engagement complete with stakeholder interviews, contextual inquires, competitive analysis and feature prioritization workshops. All would inform us and help reveal a new marketplace where customer's expectations of cellular data and brand perception had been damaged by previously poor experiences.
Stakeholder were distributed across several departments of the organization including executives, marketing, engineering and product management.
Collaborating with a local recruitment firm, we targeted students and young professionals within Metro Manila as our key market segment.
The team performed careful observation of 20 student and young adult customers to see how each one consumed and "topped-up” his/her data. We were able to observe individuals at home, school, convenience stores, and sari saris.
We closely followed and documented 20 unique journeys to “top-up" prepaid data with customer interviews and field observations
Our journey to discover the motivations of local telecom customers sent us to all corners of the city. During our visit, we observed customers in their natural environment from neighborhood Sari Saris to the grand shopping centers inside the Bonifacio Global City district. All journeys provided us with unique perspectives of the challenges customers face when managing their daily data allowances.
After returning from the Philippines, the team spent several days synthesizing hundreds of collected data points to help create comprehensive personas complete with themes and rich customer insights.
Students and young professionals are ready to be impressed by a telco that demonstrates an ability to solve common problems while providing affordable, reliable access to a digital world.
After collating the data points, two distinct personas emerged, both with distinct challenges and habits when topping up mobile data.
Contextual inquiries enabled us to uncover stories and customer habits that translated into rich personas and journey maps.
In order to compare participant's journeys, After recording the research sessions, I timestamped the footage to roughly calculate the time it took to complete the “top-up” journey. This included everything from searching for a nearby location, walking, interacting with kiosks, transacting with store clerks and manually activating prepaid cards.
The most alarming statistic came from comparing the traditional “top up” methods, such as purchasing a card or reloading through a kiosk, with the available mobile “top up” solutions. A mobile solution had the potential to save an imense amount of time.
The visualized results created a metric of success for future design solutions that could be tested during validation.
By eliminating the need to travel to a convenience store or Sari Sari, there is the potential to reduce each "top-up" time by an average of 81.5% or 380 seconds. (5.5 hours/year)
Based on customer feedback, we were able to prescribe solutions that helped the company's business model evolve while stabilizing a deteriorating public and customer brand image.
A roadmap for shifting away from the prepaid model, while retaining customer trust and elevating the user experience served as a foundation for future engagement.
The first phase aimed at repairing the public image while removing customer barriers To begin improving customer satisfaction and retention.
The readout out had several other stages all seeking to help PLDT evolve their prepaid model to a subscription model while rewarding customers for their loyalty along the way.
The project was the first time I traveled outside the United States. To say I experienced culture shock was an understatement.
I found myself in an even more challenging environment than my typical on-site client engagement. I strongly believe attempting to understand cultural and customer motivations for any product is something that must be done in person. Scratching the surface of potential knowledge and opportunities in a foreign country was both humbling and exhilarating.
The project was not without its challenges. A newly developed client relationship developed across the Pacific ocean, coordinated between multiple offices and timezones, generated significant scheduling and communication challenges.
After returning home, our team helped forge revisions to our travel policies, outlining best practices for future international client engagement protocol.