We designed a mobile service app aimed at fostering a mutual sense of trust between Home Service Providers and their customers.
3 person team
Personas + scenarios
"A technician will arrive at your house between 9AM and 5PM on Wednesday Please be available during that window to let them in."
Those dreaded words. This time your air conditioner is busted. It's 90ºF all summer, you're working a full time job, and coming home every day to a very toasty home. But can you really afford to take a day off for someone to come fix your AC? You wave your fist from afar, frustrated at the request.
But on the other hand, does any repair company actually want to make that request? It's almost guaranteed to inconvenience and upset customers. There is clearly a disconnect occurring countless times every day that need not happen. Nobody benefits.
In pondering the problem space, my mind drifted to my time working in the real estate industry after college. As a former Realtor, I was inside houses while residents were out on a daily basis. Houses for sale with Realtors have lockboxes. In this case, both the Realtor name and the physical lockbox carry a sufficient amount of trust. And then I realized, trust is the very concept lacking from the Home Service Provider (HSP) and customer relationship. So I thought, what if we could inject a healthy does of trust into this relationship?
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves just yet. There exist countless different types of customers, there are many types of home service provider companies. Personas became a useful way to represent commonalities customers share, similarities that make up different HSP businesses, and visualize shared frustrations both parties currently feel.
Scott represents our customer. With a volatile teaching schedule, Scott can't afford to take a whole day off to wait for an AC repairperson. If he could be sure nothing bad would happen, perhaps Scott would be OK with allowing a stranger into his home while he is at work?
On the HSP side of service transactions stands Alyssa, a small home-repair business owner. Current systems limit the flexibility with which Alyssa can schedule appointments and the confidence she needs to count on customers to be present for repair times. Alyssa has no malicious intent - what if she could simply do her job while Scott isn't home?
We began with an ecosystem collection focused on identifying the key stakeholders involved in the home service provider (HSP) industry. An important hidden variable in designing software for home service providers is understanding that in addition to customers and technicians, there also must be buy-in from the decision makers at HSP companies - any mobile design would have to clearly outperform the current systems in place.
We deployed a survey to home service providers to probe at how smaller companies schedule appointments, and handle cancellations as well as no shows. At the same time, we deployed a survey to a variety of customers asking them to recall specific experiences with HSPs to better understand the costs of integrating appointments into everyday life.
Both sets of surveys returned general feelings of complacency and frustration. Providers were largely content with the software they used, but were very open to better solutions, as the current solutions were just "good enough." On the other hand, customers were very inured to the pains of diverting time from their day to accommodate large appointment windows.
We also carried out a competitive analysis on both established and startup HSP companies that offer mobile systems to their customers. By and large, the most common weaknesses included navigational shortcomings leading to inefficient uses of time spent on the app.
Our team opted for a scenario-driven design process. The goal was to recognize the breadth of just how many variables are at play with appointment scheduling and completion. Each scenario should serve to illustrate and solve one or more of those potential pain points.
In brainstorming a wide range of scenarios, we noticed the emergence of a few central themes, primarily revolving around trust. In exploring what trust means to the HSP-customer relationship, we sought to develop a system that didn't require the physical presence of the customer during the appointment.
In refining our scenarios into concise storyboards, we wanted to make sure that although customers need not be present for an appointment, they still have access to the HSP. Similarly, the HSP should have a way of communicating with the customer, be it through the conveyance of a simple message like "I have arrived" or to troubleshoot a problem that actually requires more assistance from the customer.
Customer screen wireframes
Our primary concern in designing the customer side of the Repair.me app was giving the customer the power to choose a technician, and learn more about them during the scheduling process. To achieve this goal, we included technician profiles that contained a name, profile blurb, picture, rating, and customer reviews. Additionally, a simple dashboard screen allowed customers to follow along with the process of the repair from afar. Although customers would not be present in their home for the appointment, the ability to keep track of updates, and hear voice recorded messages from the techniaian helps retained a feeling of trust and security.
Technician screen wireframes
For the technician side of the interface, our goal was to ensure the service provider could gain entry to the house. To report progress to the customer, or In case any further information was needed, the technician could send messages via the app to the customer requesting further details.
We chose to follow iOS style guidelines for the app's design, sticking to pastel colors and established icons.
In iterating upon our wireframes, we expanded screens that contained too much information. For example, the technician selection process was split into multiple screens using progressive disclosure to not overwhelm the customer.
We employed keyframe animation to provide visual cues to the user of the appointment's progress.
For our final design, we integrated a complementary green color for action buttons. This distinction served to both create a consistent user interaction experience as well as improve the look of Repair.me.
It's still crazy to me that the problem we have addressed still exists today, and continues to waste countless time, money, and energy. Ultimately, trust doesn't cost money, and as more and more resource-sharing companies succeed in part because of their implementations of trust in design, I think there will be an even more extreme shift. Coming from a psychology background, and having primarily worked in industries that have me interacting with others every day, I am excited to further explore the relationship between trust and design.