Accelerate Service Innovation with Corporate DNA Empowered by Design Thinking – Unleash

Accelerate Service Innovation with Corporate DNA Empowered by Design Thinking

Accelerate Service Innovation with Corporate DNA Empowered by Design Thinking

Innovation plays an increasingly vital role in the modern world and the needs of customers are constantly changing. How can businesses stay agile in this environment? Design thinking offers them a new way to understand the pain points experienced by customers before conceiving and testing the best solutions. According to Lena Low, Senior Director – Customer and Business Development at CLP Power Hong Kong Limited (CLP), the management of CLP started exploring the idea of design thinking in 2018 and believe that this human-centric approach is in line with the Company’s commitment to innovation and customer excellence.

Design thinking starts with empathy and is about identifying the unmet needs of users. By applying design thinking, CLP is able to identify the prerequisites of “the best service”. “Innovation drives our business growth. We have stepped up our efforts to promote digital services, innovative technologies and design thinking in recent years, and effectively enhanced our customer service experience and saved more resources,” says Lena. Since the introduction of design thinking in March 2019, CLP has been offering training to employees, encouraging them improve their service.

Lena believes that design thinking is in line with CLP’s commitment to innovation and customer excellence, and can improve customer services, branding and customer satisfaction in the long run.
Lena believes that design thinking is in line with CLP’s commitment to innovation and customer excellence, and can improve customer services, branding and customer satisfaction in the long run.

Top-down management is common for many enterprises and normally employees are just required to execute the orders given by their supervisors. Under this practice, employees would habitually “jump into solutions”, which means that they would only focus on the solution and ignore the problem-solving process. In contrary, design thinking stresses the importance of understanding the pain points of users in user experience enhancement. Lena explains that design thinking is not a tool exclusive for designers, but a systematic thinking model that allows employees to proactively solve problems through four stages. “First, we will define a problem. Then, we will practice empathy and find out the difficulties encountered by customers before asking colleagues from different divisions to come up with solutions. The solutions will be tested repeatedly and fine-tuned until the one that best suits the customers’ needs is found. It will save time and offer flexibility.”

Revamped Online System Witnesses Fivefold Traffic Growth

Vinlex Wong, Senior Customer Service Delivery and Digitisation Manager at CLP Power, shares his own experience, “When we conducted the customer service demand analysis in late 2018, we noticed that most of the customers used our Electricity and Name Transfer service by calling the Customer Service Hotline and only a few of them considered online application. So we set up an interdepartmental task force comprising four to five members to investigate the pain points customers encountered online.”

To understand users’ needs, organisation can use design thinking tools such as User Journey to analyse the target customers. Tony Kwok, Senior Manager – Advanced Metering Infrastructure, is also a member of the task force, points out that they adopted design thinking tools and invited customers to share the pain points they experienced online while collecting creative ideas from other colleagues. Before developing the system interface, the task force also carried out quick tests using different prototypes, and launched a new trial online interface every two weeks. They then collected customers’ feedback and made improvements to the layout and the flow. The system eventually launched is well received by the clients as the utilisation rate rose from 7% to 40% and the percentage of customers submitting requests online surged to 25% in just five months.

Vinlex (left) and Tony (right) agree that design thinking has helped them understand the needs and pain points of customers more effectively, and speed up the system upgrade through quick prototype testing.
Vinlex (left) and Tony (right) agree that design thinking has helped them understand the needs and pain points of customers more effectively, and speed up the system upgrade through quick prototype testing.

Four-tier Training Programme Facilitates Design Thinking in Workplace

The successful experience of Vinlex and Tony proves that it is possible to seamlessly incorporate design thinking into the workplace. Such success is mainly driven by CLP’s comprehensive training and learning system that promotes design thinking.

Lena shares that CLP and its consultant carefully developed a training programme that would cover different aspects of design thinking for nearly 4,000 employees. “The targeted training programme consists of four levels, namely basic exposure training, induction course, in-depth training and management programme, strategically designed for colleagues at different levels, and encourages them to learn and apply the concept continuously.”

She adds that the contents and length of courses are different for the executives and frontline team. “Middle-level and senior executives who joined the higher level course will receive six-week intensive training to sharpen their leadership and project planning skills, while some frontline members will acquire the basic concepts of design thinking through online learning so that they can actively solve problems at work by applying the human-centred approach.”

CLP provides different training modules for employees at different levels, and encourages them to learn and apply the concept continuously.
CLP provides different training modules for employees at different levels, and encourages them to learn and apply the concept continuously.

Five-tier Recognition System Encourages Mutual Learning

It is also important to encourage the employees to share their experience of design thinking, so CLP initiated a special recognition system. “We developed a five-tier recognition system that categorises our people into five groups, namely Apprentice, Practitioner, Assistant Coach, Coach and Fellow. It aims to recognise those who show significant improvement in design thinking experience and knowledge. Those who attain the ‘Assistant Coach’ and ‘Coach’ levels are encouraged to share their experience and inspire others. They can also benefit from this mutual learning process,” Lena notes.

Today, CLP have introduced nearly 50 initiatives that facilitate problem-solving through design thinking, and range from digital transformation, productivity enhancement, security to customer services. “80 colleagues have been recognised and we hope that their successful stories will inspire their fellow workmates to practice design thinking too.” Lena believes that design thinking is not only an important tool of innovation, but also a human-centred mindset. She says, “All industries and sectors should actively adopt design thinking, especially in the face of major events, like the recent global pandemic. Design thinking will help the public and private sectors create a sustainable future.”

CLP encourages its employees to share experience of applying design thinking and developed a five-tier recognition system to recognise their contributions.
CLP encourages its employees to share experience of applying design thinking and developed a five-tier recognition system to recognise their contributions.