Re-envisioned Vehicle Buying Experience
An ideation process to inspire a fresh online perspective for current and prospective customers in the vehicle financing business
Carfinco provides automotive loans for new and used vehicles to Canadians utilizing a network of franchises and select independent partners. In order to improve their customer experience, Carfinco identified the need for a new and more expansive online customer journey. They were looking for innovation that would improve not only how typical customers interact directly with Carfinco, but also ensure customers have positive, consistent, and efficient experiences.
Armed with a vision, Carfinco needed a partner to help develop new customer experience ideas and understand how technology could assist in their customers’ self service.
DevFacto lead Carfinco through an Ideation Workshop; an efficient and highly effective way for organizations to experiment with ideas and uncover an ideal solution by combining creativity with technical possibility.
For Carfinco, this meant engaging key stakeholders and subject matter experts to collaborate throughout the following process:
1. Mission and Success Criteria
The first session was used to define the mission, constraints, users, pain-points, criteria for success, and workshop participants to help guide the remainder of the process.
The resulting question, or mission for the following workshops, was defined as “how might we improve our customer’s experience?”
2. Inspiration Sessions
Inspiration sessions are intended to educate and inspire workshop participants. They focus on divergent thinking, or creating choices.
At Carfinco, participants began by writing down their own ideas to the mission question. Then, using a series of context switching techniques, we drew out even more ideas about how Carfinco could improve their customer experience.
With a large list of ideas generated, a second exercise was facilitated to organize these ideas into groups. The team was challenged with solving questions around how ideas may be combined, simplified, or removed. This exercise provided an open environment where participants continued to challenge ideas and think freely.
At the conclusion of the inspiration sessions, DevFacto evaluated the findings to create a mind-map and high level information architecture, visually indicating ideas, groupings, and questions that were generated as part of the exercise.
3. Prototyping Sessions
Prototyping sessions utilize convergent thinking techniques to evolve ideas towards a more viable solution.
With Carfinco, DevFacto’s User Experience (UX) specialists facilitated these sessions through interactive “paper prototyping”, where each participant was provided a pen and paper to start creating their own mock-ups. Once the mock-ups had been created, the best and most important elements were moved to a larger page that became a more concrete prototype.
Then, DevFacto evaluated the session findings and created clickable prototypes to provide a more concrete product that could be reviewed and improved upon.
4. Design Review and Iterative Improvement
This process allows users to interact with a prototype solution much like they would with a fully featured application. Participants can identify obstacles and missing business requirements at a much faster rate and with more accuracy than traditional requirements gathering sessions.
With Carfinco, the design review process spanned three sessions to allow for iterative and continuous improvement based on feedback from subject matter experts.
The ideation process surfaces the best ideas, from obvious quick-wins to opportunities that can completely change the game. For Carfinco, this process resulted in a three-pronged approach to achieving their mission of improving the online customer experience:
- Self-Service Portal: The original direction proposed for improving the online customer journey, the self-service portal idea was streamlined and shaped through ideation.
- Direct to Consumer App: A completely new idea conceived through ideation, the direct to consumer app would be the first of its kind and true innovation within the industry.
- Corporate Site: While perhaps a more obvious strategy, ideation confirmed the need for and direction of an update to the Carfinco corporate website.
As a result of the ideation process, Carfinco had confidence in their new strategic direction. Armed with fully defined roadmaps and project plans, they re-engaged with DevFacto to carry out the implementation phase of this project.