Building a better digital customer experience through a vision
The development partnership of digital customer experience
Siili and Varma started their co-operation in autumn 2019 with the goal of improving the digital customer experience of Varma’s customers. Siili has been developing the service concepts and vision of Varma’s digital services over the years, from planning to application development. The development work is conducted in multi-supplier teams.
The Varma Mutual Pension Insurance Company is among the leading pension insurance companies in Finland. Varma’s main goal is to ensure that people receive the pension they have earned from their work in Finland. Varma takes care of the statutory employment pension cover of private entrepreneurs and employees. In addition, Varma is a responsible and solvent investor. Varma is responsible for the pension cover of approximately 900,000 employees, entrepreneurs and pensioners. Varma is a mutual company owned by Varma’s company and entrepreneur clients and insured employees. Varma employs approximately 550 people (2021).
Ensuring pension security is Varma’s main goal. It is a significant societal mission with great importance placed on the need for ethicality and transparency. Varma’s daily work is guided by the values of “bravely, reliably, sustainably, with joy and with passion”. Varma’s goal is to build a world which is also sustainable for upcoming generations. This significant mission also made the project exciting for Siili’s team.
It has been a joy to co-operate and to make clearly visible and concrete reforms possible for the customers.
Mari Heikinmaa, Heidi Vehokari
Digital and Population Data Services
Our mission was to create a vision and concept for Varma’s digital customer experience and its development. The goals set for the co-operation were clear from the beginning. The foundation for the co-operation was Varma and Siili’s shared idea that a better customer experience creates more satisfied customers and employees and increases the productivity of business.
In practice, this meant developing the customer and user experience of digital services and the ways of operating to be more customer-oriented and ensuring that they support Varma’s strategy. Mutual trust and shared vision of the goals reinforced the idea of a longer term partnership.
The vision of digital services as a North Star for development
The starting point for developing the vision was to develop digital services to be as customer-oriented and customer friendly as possible, in accordance with Varma’s strategy. The plan was for the customer experience to be easy, smooth, and adaptable to the customers’ situations.
“We were wondering what kind of customer experience and digital services should Varma work towards, what the service package would be like and how the services would benefit Varma’s various customers and other stakeholders. We were considering all of this with Varma’s strategy and the needs of the customers in mind,” says Juha-Matti Kosonen, Design Director at Siili.
“Together with the people at Varma, we have aimed to create a common thread that runs through all of our operations. The vision is crucial because it helps a great dela with the alignment of internal operations and makes development more effective as everyone is constantly aware of the direction in which we are going. The lack of a common and concrete target state is what often halts or slows down operations,” Kosonen continues.
Since people-centricity and customer orientation was highly valued, the co-operation was started by investigating the needs and behavior of customers: the expectations and needs of Varma’s customers in the context of pension services. An understanding of the expectations and wishes of customers was acquired through participatory activity with the people at Varma as well as Varma’s customers. The research findings were compared to Varma’s strategy, and the end result was the creation of summarized sectors and themes for reaching a competitive customer experience.
“In addition to the vision and concepts, shared ways of operating were created. They highlight customer orientation, such as the participatory approach to customers, the design system, the internal division of customer understanding and participatory planning. I have been pleased with how these person-centered ways of operating have clearly become a daily element of Varma’s operations, and I can see that they have been an essential part of the co-operation,” says Teemu Kumpulainen, a designer at Siili.
The transparency of the development and process have been highly valued during the co-operation. Varma’s entire development organization were informed about the steps of the process through open demos and open communication.
Participatory planning and a team with diverse know-how in a key role
It was evident from the beginning that a successful vision and concept, as well as the entire customer experience, are implemented through participatory planning. Designers, representatives of different businesses, application architects, systems architects as well as data specialists from several different suppliers brought ideas to the table.
Different points of view should be represented from the very beginning of a project in order to ensure that, in addition to innovative development, it is possible to evaluate the implementation potential of ideas and to make the solutions grounded and realistic. The balance and presence of different points of view are critical for the success of development. In other words, work was conducted together, solutions to the biggest challenges were found through participatory planning and the plans were modified whenever needed or when possible.
“The whole team worked well together,” says Kumpulainen.
The compatible cultures and values of Varma, Siili and other suppliers have affected the success of the co-operation.
“Many people might think that the pension system is a somewhat slow sector, but my own experience with Varma has been the complete opposite of that. It has been great to see the customers have an enthusiastic and customer-oriented approach to development. This has helped us in our work. Varma already had really good elements in its operations, such as a culture of open communication and transparency. I think the co-operation between Varma and the teams of suppliers has been really great,” praises Kosonen.
The results of the co-operation can already be seen in the user experience of the reformed services, for example.
“Varma’s operations affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Finns annually. It is extremely significant work. This development work has been highly valuable as well, and it has been great to be a part of it,” says Kosonen.
Siili has been a seamless co-operator in Varma’s multi-supplier model.
“It has been a joy to co-operate and to make clearly visible and concrete reforms possible for the customers,” say Mari Heikinmaa and Heidi Vehokari from the Digital and Population Data Services of Varma.
Learning is enabled with a good partner
What we did and how
Siili is not just a technology supplier.
Siili has been developing the service concepts and vision of Varma’s digital services over the years, from planning to application development.
Accumulating customer insight
The vision of the customer experience of digital services
The concepting of digital services and the service package
The detailed user experience design and user interface design of services, as well as visual planning and implementation
The development of the digital aspects of the design system and appearance
The analysis of customer-oriented ways of development
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