Can we better understand the process by which users purchase a mobile phone.
Interview users and produce journey maps of customer touch points.
User interviews, journey mapping, personas.
Uswitch Mobiles has always been very good at converting users with high intent into customers. Using a combination of PPC, SEO and targeted landing pages we are optimised around the end of the buying process, close to purchase.
We estimated our share of the mobile phone market was around 2.5%, and there was a growing business need and company strategy to expand our reach and explore other areas where we can influence consumers.
To better understand the areas that we could explore, I proposed some research to understand how users purchase their phones. This would hopefully lead into informing the business strategy.
The mobiles team did not have a great idea of what research users did, or where they visited, before arriving at our site.
As a business we did not feel comfortable developing a potential new product without knowing if there was value in what we wanted to produce.
Sites like Techradar and Stuff were beginning to integrate deals into their content pages.
Better understand types of user we service, and the steps they take when purchasing a mobile phone.
I decided to speak to a group of users who matched our current user profiles and ask them questions about their current mobile phones.
The intention was to work with the team to hopefully identify some common themes or steps that users went through when purchasing a phone.
These themes would then inform a set of personas and user journeys that we could use to identify areas where we could inform and influence customers.
I used Focus4People to recruit 10 participants for an hour long phone interview about the purchase of their current mobile phone. Interviews took place over 3 days, and they were all rewarded with an Amazon voucher for their time.
I requested 10 people who fitted the profile of our current product users.
- Users who have bought a phone online in the last 6 months
- 2 people who have bought an iPhone, 8 who brought any phone
- Age – 4 25-34, 4 35-44, 2 45-54
- Location – 3 London, 2 South east, 2 midlands, 2 north, 1 other
- Gender – 6 male, 4 female
- Social status / Income – ABC1
- 8 working full-time or part-time, 2 homemaker/housewife/student
The interviews were casual and free-form. With the conversation being led by the participant, I was mindful to ensure all areas of interest were covered.
A member of the team was present in all interviews to help take notes, as well as suggest extra questions to ask. It served as a great chance for the team, who don’t normally talk to users, to empathize and understand their thought processes.
All the interviews were recorded for reference, and a transcript was later produced with the key points from each participant.
After all 10 interviews were completed, we got the team together to review the findings and start picking out trends.
This began initially as writing down individual observations on post-it notes, before we started to group the large collection of notes into themes.
These themes were then given a title, so we could begin to plot them into different sections of a customer empathy map.
Along with initial trigger reasons for beginning the buying process, we identified 5 stages that users took when purchasing a phone: Phone research, phone validation, price research, price validation, and post purchase.
We used the themes from earlier and mapped them to the 5 steps identified. At each step we asked what the user was doing, what they were thinking & feeling, and what success & failure looked like.
Customer journey mapping
We were then able to combine all the observations gathered so far, the triggers, 5 steps and user actions into a single customer journey map.
Triggers – I’ve come to the end of my contract, my old phone is broken or I’m looking to buy a gift.
Phone research – What phones are available for my budget and needs?
Phone validation – Now I’ve decided on a potential phone, is it any good?
Price research – I want this phone, now how should I buy it?
Price validation – I’ve seen this phone on contract/SIM free, is that the best deal for me?
Post purchase – Now I have my phone, what do I do with my old one?
Each stage had success criteria to enable users to move onto the next stage, as well as a failure state that could pause the customers research or stop it altogether.
The customer journey mapping gave us a consistent set of steps that users took, but from the research it became clear that there were two distinct ways that users transitioned through the stages.
The first customer type was older, around 45, who was looking for a functional and relatively cheap phone to use day to day. They were more likely to have a family, less free time and less disposable income.
These factors led them to research over a longer period, up to 1 month between childcare and home commitments, to find themselves a £200-300 Android phone.
These customers were more likely to read reviews, get recommendations from friends and watch YouTube videos to inform their buying decision.
The second customer type was younger, mid 30s, who was looking to purchase the latest and greatest android or iPhone. They were less likely to have a family, more free time and more disposable income.
These factors led them to research over a shorter period, up to 2 weeks, to find themselves a £600-800 flagship phone.
In some instances there was next to no research at all. They knew they wanted the new iPhone, for example, and very little could be done to persuade them otherwise.
The final customer journey map and personas were presented back to the wider team, giving them a chance to ask questions and dive deeper into the journey steps.
The team understood and agreed with the core concepts of the project, allowing us to use the customer journeys to inform the business strategy and future direction of the mobiles product.
Areas identified for future exploration included:
What do customers do with their old phone? Can we do anything around mobile phone recycling or trade ins.
Why should customers buy from us? Can we better incentivise users to use us with exclusives or more customised products.
Is this phone worth buying? Expand our editorial reach, adding more reviews and phone roundups. Add phone specifications to enable comparison.
How should users buy this phone? Explore opportunities around SIM-free, bundle builders and price alerts