Vodafone AU Coverage Checker 2011
The Vodafone Coverage Checker allowed users to see the level of coverage they had on a map and therefore whether or not they could make phone calls, send SMS and access the internet. A plan to make new customers in-store to be made aware of their coverage when they signed up was put into action. One of the main challenges was to enrich the Public Coverage Maps with more information without causing cognitive load on the user. The in-store Coverage Checker detailed much more information like outages, device capabilities and more levels of data bandwidth that was available in that particular area.
This would mean that the customer might understand the network constraints by:
“Does my phone even get the internet? What does 3G mean?”
“Isn’t my mobile signal stronger indoors than outside? What if I am in a car? “
Time of day
“Why can’t I get a signal during peak hour, yet in other times, it’s fine?”
Number of users in their area
“Why do my SMS take hours to be received during New Years Eve?”
To tackle the problems of the Coverage Checker, the assumption was that we could come to a solution by meeting with internal customer service representatives, network managers and marketing heads to gain a deeper understanding and produce a better tool with the Map software providers.
Customer Journey maps
An internal research exercise was undertaken in which a heuristic review was performed and the main problems were listed. Then using existing personas, an illustration of the scenarios using the main online persona types was put into a storyboard or User Journey.
These scenarios list the following type of problems with the existing Coverage Checker:
- Not mobile friendly – lots of pinching and zooming in a map environment was problematic as the map has it’s own scrolling area. This meant the user easily got lost as they tried to explore and use the tool.
- It was very slow to load – the maps were huge and when you had network issues, there was no way anybody would wait that long to find out what the problems were.
- The session timed out after a few minutes, this meant that after waiting for the map to load, one could not save their location or settings forcing them to start again.
- Ultimately, if the tool was unusable, the customer usually called support (if they had enough coverage) where they could log a report and sometimes receive a discount if the outage was constantly happening.
We studied the different Telecommunication coverage maps and saw where they worked and failed.
Vodafone Coverage Checkers in 2011
As part of working in the UX team, we conducted a series of regular informal interviews with Vodafone customers. What we discovered was:
- The majority of customers rarely used the Vodafone Coverage Checker when they experienced network problems, they just expected the network to work everywhere.
- When they did use the Coverage Checker, they found it hard to understand and certainly not mobile-friendly.
- Out of those that did understand the Coverage Checker, they expected real-time data but did not trust Vodafone to be transparent in reporting the level of coverage.
- They said the idea of expecting them to use Coverage Checker as a way to solve their problems was not desirable.
Inspired by OpenSignal, we asked our map providers to develop a heat-map style of visualisation collecting model and location data from the customer’s device, indicating signal strength and allow the user to see outages in their area and report outages themselves.
The results of the testing of the new design demonstrated that the interface was :
- More intuitive
- Easier to understand
- Faster to load