Please note that due to the nature of this work, I can only talk in broad terms, not specifics, and I'm unable to share the client's name.
The energy sector is undergoing a massive shake-up as profits fall, regulation tightens and a fed-up public are more vocal than ever. This can't be addressed with PR or a glossy coat of paint, it has to come through long-term cultural change. In fact before this project started, I wrote a blog post about just how fed up I personally was with the sector.
At Wolff Olins I was able to try and address these issues when working with a large Scandinavian energy company. We helped them to become more open, to listen to people, and at the same time, transform from a self-proclaimed dinosaur to a digitally native organisation. As the creative lead on the team, I helped define an approach that would allow the transformation to continue long after the project finished.
We created a process that would help any employee uncover, understand, and address real customer needs. It provided a way to gather insights and use them to improve services, or create products that would genuinely help customers.
To illustrate how useful this new way of working could be, we partnered up with the client's team and piloted it. We spent an amazing, freezing, exciting November in Sweden, visting customers in their homes, and getting to the heart of how they used energy, and what they really needed from their supplier.
Inspired by Ideo's Human-Centred Design movement, we wanted to make it easy for anyone in a business of thousands to understand their customers. The process was developed specifically to work in a complex organisation, and cover any and all departments. Change can't be idealised or parachuted in — it had to be compatible with existing structures and processes.
As we progressed, a strategist on the project (Camilla Grey) and I took photographs and kept careful notes, eventually writing them up into a 'field guide' for the client's organisation.
The field guide chronicled the entire process, helping any employee to do it themselves. This meant they'd uncover real customer needs in their part of the business, and could make adjustments to meet those needs.
The company went onto adopt the new process and, using the field guide, kicked it off across many different parts of the business.
The new products and services starting to emerge will hopefully go some way to making customers feel more in control and less at the mercy of their energy provider.
Whilst new at the time, this type of working has gone on to be common place at Wolff Olins, and can be seen in action on many of their current projects.