Why this design leader doesn't mind if he's with the CIO or CMO

Toll Group design manager talks through how he's driving a new customer management application and why he's in the IT team to do it

For many organisations, the emergence of digital channels necessitated creation of an entirely new business function to support them. A key question then is where to house that function – within marketing, IT, operations, customer, or someplace else?

In his career as a digital designer, Rod Zandbergs has worked within many of the available options. In his current role as design manager for the freight and logistics company, Toll Group, he finds himself helping to drive the delivery of a new customer management application called MyToll. In this instance, he is doing so from within the IT function.

“Often design functions get pushed down and don’t have the right level of visibility,” Zandbergs tells CMO. “So regardless of what silo I happen to be in, I see the role of the digital team as an internal consulting team that needs to get up and across the whole business and get out of that silo. That was the same when I was positioned in a marketing division in my previous role.

“So you need to be proactive in creating the visibility for the work you are doing and pulling the right stakeholders directly into the design processes that you are trying to run.”

Critical to making this work has been the need to understand the pain points various parts of the organisation actually experience.

“Make the approach the various departments across the business and speak to them about what matters to them and how the work you do will support their outcomes and to be using their kind of language,” Zandbergs says. “If they are into NPS talk about how the work you could do will support their aims to boost customer retention.”

The MyToll platform that is the focus of his current activity has been developed using the Liferay digital experience platform, and provides customers with access to functions such as creating shipments, printing labels and booking pickups. It has a customisable interface that shows an up-to-date view of work in-progress with email and SMS alerts.

Zandbergs says customer feedback has become a key element of the project, with the Toll Design Practice now developing reporting mechanisms specific to the digital experience and the top tasks of customers. It has also opened up a feedback channel in MyToll to help with the production of ease and effectiveness metrics specific to each of the main user tasks, and collect insights about where improvements can be made.

 “Within this we’ve seen positive feedback, but also some expressions of frustration,” Zandbergs says. “With this information, we’ve been able to respond to issues in targeted way, improving the platform in line with customer expectations.

“Even when introducing a superior, more powerful solution, this represents change and therefore disruption to their day-to-day practices. This is why our change team has worked hard to ease this process, ensuring customers are supported as they make the transition.”

Zandbergs says Toll has also put in place specific goal measurement triggers in Google Analytics, so it can measure the conversation rates of top tasks, plus time spent on task.

“We intend to track these metrics over time and see how, as we evolve the product over time, we’re improving the customer experience,” he says.

Zandbergs has also been working hard to ensure he has the right team to deliver what customers want.

“You can have the best strategy in the world, but without the right people in your team and the right mindset, your strategy is not going to travel very far,” he comments. “So it is very important to consciously develop our teams and their culture to grow and mature and become a high-performance team.”

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