SOURCE: EffectiveUI


June 21, 2011 10:30 ET

EffectiveUI and Boeing Hit the Hangars, Cockpits and Offices to Gain Valuable Customer Insight

With User Research Phase Complete, Customer Insight Will Drive User Experience Design

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwire - Jun 21, 2011) - EffectiveUI and Boeing (NYSE: BA), the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, have completed the first two phases of a project to transform the company's MyBoeingFleet customer portal. The customer insight gathered through an ethnographic study in the first phase has helped guide the high-level design in phase two, and will drive the overall strategy for the portal redesign.

The companies are sharing examples and findings of the research portion of the project in a session titled, "How Customer Insight and Ethnographic Research Drive Customer Experience Strategy" today at the Forrester Customer Experience Forum in New York. is a secure portal that provides Boeing customers, maintenance service providers, regulatory agencies, and internal support teams access to technical and non-technical information through research, collaboration, and product procurement tools essential to operating and maintaining Boeing aircraft.

Customer Insight FromEthnography and Contextual Inquiry
Because MyBoeingFleet serves thousands of people among its customers, it is a critical touch point for Boeing's brand reputation. The company enlisted EffectiveUI to conduct an ethnographic study of its customers in order to get a clear understanding of when, why and how people really use the portal, to in turn ensure the redesign would meet their needs.

Ethnography is a social science research method that relies on field research and up-close observation in order to understand users in the context of their environment and learn their needs, goals, challenges and motivations.

EffectiveUI's research team met with and observed Boeing customers around the globe, interviewing more than 150 people who use MyBoeingFleet at 13 different companies, in 10 cities worldwide.

In addition to observing customers, the team also conducted contextual inquiry -- asking customers to walk them through the processes of performing specific tasks, providing details and feedback as they went.

"Through this research, we were able to uncover information that we never would have known had we not been sitting right there with our customers, observing them using MyBoeingFleet," said Craig Savio, Director of eBusiness for Boeing Commercial Aviation Services. "We have a lot of knowledge about our customers -- demographics and other quantitative information -- but conducting this study gave us insight we couldn't have obtained by just doing a survey."

Personas and Journey Maps Provide Far-Reaching Insight
In addition to informing the visual design and architecture of the new portal, the ethnographic research provided two key takeaways for Boeing.

Previously, Boeing's customer personas -- profiles of a typical type of customer -- were based on job roles, such as crew chiefs or engineers. This research uncovered, however, that many people with different job roles were performing similar tasks within the MyBoeingFleet portal. As a result, personas were re-created based on key behaviors and specific task functions, such as finding engineering information or validating repair solutions, to better identify what people are trying to accomplish within the portal.

Another set of key artifacts that came from the research was a series of customer journey maps. These maps show a visual representation of the collective emotional state of customers as they perform specific tasks within MyBoeingFleet. This insight is helpful in understanding what interaction elements need the most focus to ensure a positive experience with the portal, but it uncovered information on how customers interact with Boeing offline as well, identifying opportunities for the company to evaluate customer service practices beyond the digital interaction.

Creating a Vision for the New MyBoeingFleet
The completion of the ethnographic research marked the end of the first phase of the MyBoeingFleet portal redesign project. The second phase included high-level experience design and will be followed by an assessment of business and technological impacts, design refinement, user validation, and an initial rollout of selected redesign elements.

"So many companies want to improve digital interactions with their customers, but don't take the time to truly understand their needs and motivations specific to digital channels," said Rebecca Flavin. "The insight gained through this research has transformed the way Boeing thinks about digital customer engagement, and the company is now poised to deliver a powerful customer experience."

Supporting Resources

About EffectiveUI
Founded in 2005, EffectiveUI simplifies complex experiences, bringing value to people's lives. By researching and articulating user needs, our team of customer insight, design and development experts create custom applications that improve digital interactions and enhance emotional engagement with a company and brand. Focusing on customer insight, EffectiveUI has worked with some of today's top companies -- including AAA, Boeing, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, eBay, GE Health, Navy Federal Credit Union, Qwest Communications, TIAA-CREF and American Greetings -- to provide a strategic vision and to increase revenue, brand awareness, customer loyalty and usability.