Putting the customer at the heart of the biggest Dutch health insurer.

Over the past years, VGZ has been working hard to boost customer satisfaction and improve their services overall, all while reducing costs. That’s why recently, VGZ has undergone an organizational transformation. The biggest Dutch health insurer is now working in fancy new ‘clusters’, each consisting of multiple self-organizing ‘mission teams’.

Client

VGZ

Tools

Design Sprint

You can’t stay in your corner of the forest, waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.

— Winnie the Pooh

Working with mission teams

These mission teams have a mandate to develop or improve services as they see fit, as long as it supports VGZ’s mission of ‘safeguarding sensible health care’. The ‘Service and Proposition Developer’ (or SPD’er) has a special role in these mission teams. They are the prospective owners of the application of Service Design within the organization.

An example, you ask? There’s a cluster for ‘customer payments’, and within that cluster, there is a mission team for ‘helping serious defaulters back on track’. In some of our projects, we closely collaborated with this team and especially its SPD’er. If you’re reading this: Hi Wendy!

However, as we see in our CX maturity model, the organizational structure is just one of the pillars of customer-centric service innovation. VGZ needed to overcome the barriers of actually operationalizing the new organizational structure and integrated way of working. As we see often in such transformations, employees demanded proof of the value of Service Design. Also, even when there is support,  there is still a skill gap for the people in their new roles. 

That’s when Koos entered the picture! Together, we developed a programme to create support and boost skills. We started with small but concrete projects, and gradually got more teams involved with the new way of working.

KPI’s since 2019:

  • 13% increase in company-wide NPS over the last years
  • 68 employees trained through 5 Service Design Masterclasses
  • 11 Service Design projects with different mission teams
  • 10 new customer journeys used every day
  • 6 Design Sprints to validate new service concepts

Picking up speed

The first step in our collaboration was to prove the new way of working within the organization. Early 2019, kicked off with two projects: A relatively straightforward customer journey for a more human-centred payment funnel and a more complex project on reducing hassle and anxiety when changing long term prescription medication

Both projects were executed in close collaboration with a respective mission team, as this was to be an example of the new way of working. Both were also preceded by a two-day Service Design Masterclass, guiding mission teams through the entire design process. A process that they would then use as a backbone for the two projects.

We made sure to wrap up both projects with a Design Sprint, to deliver results as close to implementation as possible. This approach allows for validated assumptions through quick prototyping. For example, we developed and validated a prototype for a penalty pause aimed at activating passive debtors in just five days.

Taking the leap

As these projects came to an end, it was time for the next step in rolling out the way of working. The first results started to get some traction in the organization, so we needed to build on that momentum. We invited the SPD’ers to a workshop on Design Sprints. This generated a little buzz around the subject and was a fun afternoon at the same time. Then, we hosted another two-day Service Design masterclass just for the SPD’ers. This allowed us to take them all through the process, so we could kick-start new projects straight away. 

Koos helped us break down this complex issue through clear and visual deliverables. Practical and insightful results from a flexible and agile approach.

— Elvira Arts Expert Proposition Development at VGZ

Sticking the landing

All SPD’ers now had a small taste of the Service Design process. We now could collaboratively roll out projects at a much quicker pace. Between Q3 of 2019 and Q2 of 2020, we worked together on no less than eight projects, ranging from ‘Arranging hospital transport with less hassle’ to ‘Designing a new health insurance proposition for 18-year-olds’. On average, these projects take around seven weeks (half time) from research to validated prototype.

On top of that, we made a strategic move with two results. For starters, we saw the SPD’ers getting more experienced and independent. This meant for some projects that our role as consultants shifted towards coach and facilitator. All the right signs of the shifting role of designers in a maturing organization. On the other hand, the projects we did become more complex, with the implementation of cutting edge methodologies and collaborations across mission teams and even external partners. This showcases the increased confidence for applying Service Design within VGZ.

Looking forward

Today, we see VGZ running Service Design projects in their mission teams on a regular basis. In every Quarterly Business Review, many validated customer-centric initiatives find their way to the backlog of development teams. Others need a little more certainty and are placed firmly on the backlog of the mission teams. 

Mission accomplished you say? That’d be too simple. To an extent, you could say that we did manage to put the customer in the heart of many VGZ colleagues. However, in a huge organization like VGZ, we will always find new challenges. Want to know more about standardizing, unifying and measuring Service Design efforts at scale? Get in touch or stay tuned!