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Post-Purchase Communication

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 Client: Lowe's 

Type: UX Discovery - Research Case Study 

Year: 2019

Background

Lowe’s had a desire to better understand the expectations and needs for communication following the purchase of products and services that require in-home or Jobsite delivery and/or service. In addition, we wanted to better understand any different communication needs when purchasing online versus in-store as well as needs for in-store pick-up and post-delivery. 

My Role

I was the lead Senior UX Designer responsible for the user research strategy as well as drive the UX documentation to create artifacts, personas, flows and consolidate all findings, pain points, and recommendations. 

 

 The Challenge

Understand users preferences regarding post-sale communications (communication modes, frequency, content, journey) and identify red flags in our current state.

Overall Goals

  • Understand consumer and PROS expectations and needs for communication following purchase

  • Identify main pain points regarding post-purchase communications 

  • Understand preferences and frustrations encountered throughout the post-purchase process regarding home delivery services, in-store purchases, online purchases, installations, in-store pickup, scheduling, delivery, quotes, updates frequency, follow-ups, methods of communications, delays, and cancellations

  • Grasp more insight regarding user experience and how they felt going through their individual post-purchase experience 

Research Objectives

Get “deep dive” feedback around post-sale process and communications and unearth unmet needs and identify “wish fors” to improve communication throughout the post-sale process.

Research Approach

In order to get a “deep dive” feedback around post-sale process and communications we followed four steps to understand critical communication points, information needs and identify unmet needs: 

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Methodology 

A moderated remote focus group was utilized for the purpose of this qualitative research. The Focus group was organized by UX and Product Management with the support of Consumer Insights. The focus group was then hosted by Ipsos utilizing the Focus Vision’s platform to conduct the remote interviews. 4 Online Video Focus Groups (5-6 people per group) Two Groups of DIY and Two Groups of PROS.

 

• Method Used: Moderated Remote 

• Technique: Focus Group – Thinking Out Load Protocol and Internal Retrospective Proving 

• Type of Test: Problem Discovery 

• Platform: FocusVision by Ipsos

User Personas 

For the purpose of this research, I created two main user personas. Personas are archetypical users whose goals and characteristics represent the needs of a larger group of users, in this case, the DYI Group and the PRO Group. 

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Interviews

We recruited a total of 20 respondents, 12 DIY, and 8 PROS:

 

• A mix of 10 males and 8 females ages 25-64 years

• All recruited from the Lowe’s Neighborhood or Pro Advisors Forum communities.

• Each one had a minimum of 2 deliveries, installations, repairs or online orders within the past 3 months

• 1.5 Hours Per Interview 

 

Please Note: Due to the nature of this research our participants will remain anonymous.

UX Findings

Based on this research we were able to identify users main pain points, understand the things they want, the things they need, what frustrates them when it comes to post-purchase communications and also discover some red flags and inconsistencies within our own communication pieces.

 

With this research we were able to identify the following: 

 

• Expected Communication Milestones

• Preferred Communication Mode by Milestone

• Specifics Mode of Communication the user wants 

• Frequency of Communication

• Needs / Wish Fors: Point of Sale 

• Needs / Wish Fors: In-Store Pickup

• Needs / Wish Fors: Scheduling 

• Needs / Wish Fors: Cancel or Delay

• Needs / Wish Fors: Follow-Up

• Detail Learnings: DYI VS. PROs 

• Competitive Feedback regarding Best/Worst for Communication

• Selecting Communication Preferences

• Preferences About Point of Contact 

 

After the interviews, we debriefed and consolidated all of our notes, we then proceeded to analyze the data and start structuring and organizing our findings. We then conducted a team session and utilize affinity mapping to sort out our information and create other artifacts. 

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Pain Points
We then proceeded to create a pain point matrix. Here’s a summary of the major pain points we identify for both DYI and PRO groups: 
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User Flow
Based on some of the pain points I then investigated further and discovered room for improvement on some of the post-purchase communication flows. Here’s the current state flow for BOPUS and parcel, where we identified some areas where communication gets interrupted and the user journey is not consistent between MyLowe’s and email notifications:
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Key Learnings

We organized our findings into understanding the key learnings of communication milestones, preferred communication mode and also key learnings on the frequency of the communication.

 

Key Learning - Communication Milestones: Customers want communication at key milestones in the post sale process to know progress is being made and delivery/service timing is on track.

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Key Learning - Preferred Communication Mode by Milestone: Text and email are the most preferred modes of communication throughout the communication journey after a purchase that requires delivery, installation, or repair. Text versus email is mainly personal preference but Lowe’s not using text messaging could be inconvenient and/or frustrating to some customers.

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Key Learning - Frequency of Communication: Proactive communication at key points in the process provide a sense of confidence that things are on track. Key communication points in the process and preferred timing include:

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Summary
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  • No one consistent mode of communication is preferred – email and text clearly best.

  • Email versus text is typically a personal preference.

  • Email and text is usually preferred versus in-person or phone calls for efficiency purposes. 

  • Text offers many benefits, especially with Pros who are out on job sites, quicker than email.

  • Both DIY and Pros are using text with other suppliers such as Wayfair and Amazon.  

  • Mode preference is often driven by the content of the communication.

  • Text is preferred for brief communications such as updates and confirmations.

  • Email is usually preferred for documentation they want to keep a record 

  • Phone is preferred only in specific instances where it is more efficient to ask questions and/or there is urgency.

  • A major key unmet need is to provide more information when sending workers for an in-home detail or installation appointment for safety and security purposes.

  • More upfront communication with specific details on exactly who is coming to their home (company, name, ID, etc.) and how long they will be there can put the customer much more at ease.

  • Communication needs for online purchases are virtually the same as for in-store.

  • A few customers feel local salespeople can answer questions and provide information that is not online, but this would not deter them from ordering online.

  • Customers expect to have at a glance information online for any installation/services process

  • Overall “wish for” more specific information to better-set expectations upfront, especially on complex projects/installations.

  • Installations can be very complex, and customers desire more information/ detail on the work, timing, and what preparation is required in advance.

UX Recommendations
  1. Provide more detailed “What to Expect” information regarding each step throughout the post-purchase experience.  

  2. Develop a communication system that includes text messaging and ideally offers real-time tracking. (Think Amazon)

  3. Explore ways to allow customers to select their preferred mode of communication for each order at the point of purchase.

  4. Develop communications for in-home quotes and service that include more detail on the provider/person doing the work for safety and planning purposes. (Think Uber)

  5. Create a “branded template” for all delivery/service/installation communications that include more proactive and detailed information that will delight customers and set Lowe’s apart from the competition. 

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