Making the complicated simple

by Ben on 25th April 2018

A look at how we helped a University streamline key internal processes and improve and simplify the experience for their students with a brand new application.

Introduction

One of our clients, a University, wanted to make it easier for students to lodge a complaint or an appeal, whilst also improving the way they were being routed and categorised internally for effective resolution.

With around 200 possible ‘endpoints’ to deal with it was clear from the start this was going to be an interesting project!

A fair amount of the business analysis had been completed before we got involved and a number of UX testing sessions and wireframing had also been completed, so we were able to jump straight in.

The idea behind the solution was to present the student with several top-level categories. From here, we could narrow them down into more specific areas and eventually offer them some contact options as well as some recommended self-serve resources that might be relevant.

Our approach

The first thing we did was to work with the analysts to agree on a common format for communicating the various contact information, routing logic and CRM data. We were then able to take this agreed format and build an importer to convert it to the relevant config structure that we needed to work with to drive the application. This allowed us to increment changes as things evolved. To put things in perspective, the final config contains over 3000 lines.

The next step was to define a URL structure - we knew we wanted to support deep linking, which meant representing each step of the journey as a simple slug in the path.

For example: /complaint-appeal/paying/fees/liability

This would indicate that the student had gone through 3 different options and would now be offered contact and help options. The information would need to come from a few different sources and would be dependent on the options the student had selected.

Config file

Most of the contact information would be stored in the config file and would consist of call information and CRM metadata, which would vary depending on which options had been selected.

We also had to deal with variations based on profile data such as where they were from or what subject area their course came under.

Contact web service

Sometimes the student would need to be given details for a contact that was specific to the course they were studying. This information was made available to us via a web service. We cached the response for each student for 24 hours to reduce the number of requests that would be made to the web service and to improve the page load speeds.

CMS

The help information offered alongside the contact options would be managed in the CMS to allow it to be easily maintained and updated. This was an important aspect of the continuous improvement strategy as reasons for contact would be monitored and fed back to the content team to allow them to offer better help options.

We kept the design simple to help guide the students through the available options as easily as possible and included a progress indicator at the top of the page to help communicate how far through the process they were. They could also click back to previous options if they wanted to change their mind.

Since launching we have updated the config several times to align with internal process changes, however the experience for the students has remained consistent and they are unaware of the internal changes that have occurred – a real win in that respect!

Summary

We feel the project successfully achieved its objective of making it clear and simple for students to navigate roughly 200 possible endpoints in a simple 1, 2, 3 step experience. It spanned multiple teams and departments and really emphasised the importance of good communication, which is often difficult when it comes to projects with a lot of structured data and complicated routing logic involved.

Since launching the feature we have heard that the feedback is very positive, which is great to hear. It has also improved staff productivity as they now spend less time re-assigning enquiries to the correct team.

Work with us

If you enjoyed this blog post and you’re interested in working with us, drop us a message and we’d be happy to have a chat.