L.L.Bean is a major apparel and outdoor equipment retailer with gross sales in excess of $1.4 billion per year. The bulk of these sales are handled via their multiple call centers based in Maine and over the Internet. Since L.L. Bean is an apparel and equipment retailer the bulk of their sales are seasonally driven and because of this seasonal business they are required to hire and train a significant number of seasonal call center representatives to support the volume of holiday sales.
L.L.Bean was looking to expand the functionality of their successfully redesigned order taking application to support more complex inquiry calls. The goal was to reduce the number of call transfers and the amount of training required to handle many of these calls while continuing to maintain the high standards of L.L.Bean customer service and employee satisfaction.
The design team began by working with the business clients to define the goals of the system enhancement. Working with the business team we worked to define the scope and goals of the project along with a plan that incorporated the maximum opportunity for user input.
Our first step was to develop a more detailed understanding of how the call center representatives handled the customer inquiries using the current systems. We conducted a interviews with expert users as well as observing the customer service representatives using the current systems answering typical customer inquiries. After gathering data on the current work processes and system usage we developed an overall vision and interaction architecture for the system expansion.
Using this overarching set of interaction principles the team began the process of designing the screens to support the business functionality. During this phase of the engagement we entered an iterative design process. Each of these design iterations comprised of the following steps:
Screen design and layout
Task based user testing
Screen and test results reviews with expert users, business, and technical team members
The cyclical nature of this process allowed us to test the proposed design solutions with the end users. This provided us with critical input for making revisions to the designs while allowing us to continue to layer additional detail into the application design. Constant testing with the end users and reviews with the business team ensured that we designed a system that met the high standards of usability and efficiency to ensure employee and customer satisfaction.
After screen design was approved the team moved into the documentation of the screen behaviors. Using standard HTML the team created documentation that detailed the behavior of each screen. The HTML format allowed us to integrate all of the project deliverables including links into the final prototype design. This set of specifications was then handed off to the technical team as the basis for their implementation of the new system features.
The system was delivered and has been live for several holiday seasons resulting in a number of measurable improvements for L.L.Bean:
Improved customer and employee satisfaction
Reduced average call time by five seconds
Reduced product information queue requests by 37%
Reduced training time for each new user by over 50%