Our highlights from 2021 and what’s to come in 2022

January is great for reflection, and looking back on 2021 I’m super proud of how much our team achieved - it brings the reason why we exist to life :)

cxpartners exists to have a positive impact on people’s lives by ensuring that organisations serve human needs, make work meaningful, are valuable, and are sustainable. 

Welcoming new partners

We grew teams with 14 new clients last year, including NHSx & NHS England and Improvement, UCAS, Avast, WaterAid and Clarins. Working together to help them understand their customer needs and mature a culture of customer-centricity within their organisations. We’ve already started some fantastic programmes of work with our new partners (more on this below), and all of us at cxpartners are excited to see how we can work together in 2022. 

Supporting women in crisis

During the pandemic, the ONS reported thousands more domestic abuse cases had been reported and referred, highlighting how an already desperate, but often opaque situation had become far worse through the lockdowns. Throughout this time, we have been evolving an online chat service for one of the UK’s largest domestic abuse support charities, Women’s Aid. Women who use the service report that the live chat channel allows them to securely and discreetly get the help they seek, as opposed to other channels that pose potential risks to themselves and their families. It’s been some of the most rewarding work that our team have been challenged with, and we’re starting to see how critical the service is. In the first 3 months of going live 116,000 people engaged with the service, and support workers managed 4,000 chat requests

Accelerating digital mental health services

Our partnership with NHSx Digital Transformation team has seen us bring user centred research and design consultancy to NHS England and Improvement’s Digital Mental Health team. The pandemic and subsequent lockdown has accelerated the NHS’ commitment to finding ways to improve health services through digital service design to improve Mental Health services across England. 

Our work has had an impact across national programmes and local/regional delivery of care, and some of the work we’re most proud of includes:

  • Identifying and prioritising key themes that could improve the health outcomes and lifespans of people with severe mental illness by ensuring that they get the physical health checks they need. Our discovery findings have resulted in national funding of seven regional projects covering outreach, interoperability and remote monitoring solutions. 
  • Mapping the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service from the patients’ perspective for the first time. 
  • Achieving real progress in understanding the data and information needs of users of four key mental health pathways. Creating simple, reusable service and data maps, case studies and use cases so that Integrated Care Systems (ICS) across England can have the tools to approach Interoperability challenges successfully and not “just” from a technology perspective. 

This work has involved every member of the Digital Government team and we’ve been so proud this year to work with our NHS partners across national programmes and local/regional delivery teams. 

Building a digital studio with SSE

Having been appointed 12 months ago to build and lead SSE’s Digital Studio, we’ve really seen our work together flourish this year. With expectations of employees and customers at new heights, SSE is investing heavily to create digitised, data driven, and automated engagements between their partners, agents, and customers. We’ve embedded an agile research, design and delivery process, enabling their teams that reduce the time it takes to deploy robust digital services that reduce risk, and increase ROI. This work resulted in a digital customer ‘front door’ that was delivered in half the expected time.

Growing our partnership with Google 

Our collaboration with Google continues to grow. As their EMEA User Experience partner, we have run a further 120 Mobile Research Labs and  Design Sprints with brands such as Boohoo, ASOS and Booking.com. The changes we have co-created within the labs programmes have led to at least a doubling of conversions rate - tangible evidence that improving experiences for customers improves business performance. We’ve extended this programme of work to enable clients to develop their customer-centricity capability internally by creating usability testing training. We’ve delivered to ASOS and Cowboy already and will be scaling this up to 100 brands in 2022. 

This year we have also been working with Google to help brands to understand the maturity of their Customer Centricity practices. Google is as passionate as we are about helping brands to see the ROI of customer centricity, and understand that what’s best for the customer is best for the business. As part of this programme of work, we developed an advanced, actionable maturity model and surveyed over 100 of Europe’s top brands including Barclays, Hertz, Tesco and the NHS to understand how their capabilities and actions compare against their ambitions to be customer-centric. Next year, we will be running programmes of training, co-design, and managed services with them to improve their abilities across the 5 dimensions of customer-centricity, People, Processes, Governance, Facilities, and Communications. 

Embedding customer centricity in financial services

We’re working with two large financial services firms. With both, the brief was indeed to help them transform into more customer-centred businesses. Why? Because businesses that put the customer at the centre of their strategy, see increased loyalty and revenue, and in financial services, can easier meet FCA regulation, particularly around Consumer Duty. 

Customer centricity is much easier to say than do - transformation projects are easier to begin than complete. We’ve been involved in several projects where we've united disparate stakeholders by exposing them directly to user research. The shared experience catalyses change – it gets people moving along the curve together in a way not otherwise possible. We’re really proud of the work we’ve done within financial services to make customer-centred change happen by leading by example, on the ground.

Welcoming new faces

In addition to it being an incredible year for our client partnerships, it was also wonderful in that we welcomed a whole host of new people to our remote-first business. We saw 20 new people join us bringing fresh perspectives from all over the globe, and from different careers - and we’re still recruiting! 

Take a look at ‘New faces and (a few!) celebrations’.

What’s to come in 2022

Exciting times!

Our work with Google on our Customer Centricity Model will launch with a publicly available whitepaper in Spring 2022. This will support organisations across retail, travel, financial services, government and beyond in taking action to transform their customer-centric capabilities and perform better for their customers, employees, and societies.

The Financial Conduct Authority has recently published their consultation on the Consumer Duty, and with it has conceded that regulation designed to ensure fair treatment of customers isn't up to scratch. Next July it will release a package of measures called 'a new Consumer Duty'. It expects a 'significant uplift' in consumer outcomes and will expect firms to get it right first time. In our experience, reduced regulatory risk won't be the only reward for firms that embrace the spirit of this challenge. What's best for the customer can be best for the business too. But you'll need a different mindset, a different set of design tools and the confidence to go against the grain.

For the NHS, we have a programme of work lined up to ensure digital is a key factor in delivery of Mental Health Services. We will capitalise on the progress we’ve made this year by:

  • embedding inclusive research and design
  • delivering the change at system-level through evidence, toolkits and case studies
  • designing new services to support those navigating the Mental Health system

And we can’t wait to see the results of our strategic service design support across England - working simultaneously across seven thematically-linked but distinct approaches projects has been rewarding, challenging and so exciting. 

We want to help you better understand your customers, and how your business can shift to being more customer-centred so we’re kicking things off in the new year with a webinar for our Financial Services audience, secure your place by registering now! 

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Fiz is our Managing Director, but she's been many things. She likes pies and nuts.