The organisation: 4Finance

4finance is one of Europe’s largest and fastest growing online and mobile consumer lending groups with operations in 15 countries globally. Putting innovative data-driven analysis into all aspects of the business, 4finance has grown rapidly, issuing over EUR 3.0 billion to date in single payment loans, instalment loans and lines of credit.
Rob and I have worked on a project to create an Auto Finance business in Lithuania and Rob professionally and successfully created and delivered an excellent customer journey for the Lithuanian Auto market in addition to leading the development team for the website.Peter Critchley - AutoFinance Group Head

The brief: UX proposition lead

Quite simple on the face of it – “design a service that allowed potential consumers to buy a car”.

“So, where are we at ..?”

The project had began some months before I joined so I had some catching up to do, as I began to read through the various documents it became all too clear that, in lieu of accurate behavioural insights, some big assumptions had been made.

Understanding the landscape

After reading through the very detailed documentation supplied by the marketing department it became clear that the initial route to market, through dealerships, might not be the best way – so I commissioned a quick survey to validate this assumption, it would also allow me to gauge the audience reaction to some of the spikier aspects of the proposed service.

As it turned out, more people inherited cars than bought them through a dealership, roughly 6.9%

Understanding the audience

Whilst this was happening I started to put together proto-personae to allow everyone to ‘meet’ out audience. These were synthesised from the socio-economic and technological data again supplied by the marketing department.

Understanding each other

To improve communication, I also set up a focussed daily standup with the key individuals involved in mapping the end to end solution. An Enterprise Architect stationed in Prague and the Business Process lead in Riga, calls started at 8am.

Lean UX

From the outset, I adopted a standpoint of lean UX, minimal wastage – why build prototype when you can sketch to gain understanding? why create high fidelity wireframes before you’ve tested the proposition with the audience? Collaboration at the point of creation was the key to gaining business buy-in.

Defining the proposition

So that we, as a clan, we could all focus our attention in a single direction, I set about orchestrating the creation a Lean Canvas – an excellent strategic modelling tool. This defined the proposition and its landscape as a single-page document and was then used to guide and focus the collective team effort.

Vilnius : Defining the solution

I called roadtrip and was off to Vilnius to meet some of the team so that we could collaboratively sketch out the high level journey but in order to do this effectively I needed them all to think like their market.

Validating the personae

For this I used a Value Proposition Canvas and a bottle of Espresso Smirnoff vodka. Splitting the team into groups, each one received a persona, the exercise being to draw the attitudes and behaviours for that persona after which they would then need to describe that character back to the group – the winner receiving the vodka.

High level journey and pages

Day two was all about the business of putting together the high level flow, synthesised from the jobs-to-be-done from each personae, incorporating all compliance and legal nuances and the various business practices and aggregated third party services.

Assumptions and hypothesis

The final day was all about the details, examining all the assumptions, by the business about the audience, about the audience by the personae.

Synthesised from this was a quantifiable, testable list of hypothesis that allowed us to dive into each page in the journey through the eyes of each of the persona including page layout and copy – no lorem ipsum here.

More importantly, it gave us something we could test against consumer expectation using lo-fi prototypes.

Riga : Mapping the services

The output from Vilnius was a good starter and gave us a broad strokes understanding of the proposition from the users perspective, now we needed to understand how this fitted within the scope and services available.

Part one : The small meet

A quick one-dayer with my team of solutionists to ensure we had our ducks aligned, i.e. the user journey mapped to the enterprise level services and the business protocols. Like tetris with APIs.

Part two : The big meet

The business had decided to procure the services of a white label product to facilitate the loan issuing, handle input from the business APIs and the storage of user data. We needed to ensure that their system was capable of handling our requirements – which as it turned out, it wasn’t.

This necessitated refactoring the user journey and page level details to incorporate additional data required by the white label solution to allow it to step through the journey.

Prague : Re-defining the solution

The birthplace of bohemia was a lovely backdrop for the work at hand – redesigning the customer journey with the (now validated) personae to fit the requirements of the white label product.

Due to the urgency, I had flown in from Moldova the agency who would be responsible to building the front end solution and came with a wealth of empirical user insights from previously built projects for 4Finance.

The result

To wrap it all up, the output from the Prague workshop became the blueprint for the solution. Thankfully, we had at our disposal a shiny list of validated hypothesis and a wealth of consumer insight that accompanied them

Validating against the audience

Simple prototypes and high fidelity mockups were created for the browse and buy journeys that incorporated all learnings from the hypothesis and previous lab testing and surveys, these went through three further rounds of lab testing for qualitative feedback and insight.

Managing the build

After we had identified the best case solution, that worked for both the user, the business and the seemingly ever changing compliance hurdles in Lithuania, I worked closely with the scrum team in Moldova to manage the final build whilst working in conjunction with management consultancy to coordinate back and front end integration.