Expanding services at Clutter

Aug 2017 - Sep 2017 (3 weeks)

In order to expand its customer base, Clutter was considering self-storage acquisition. I illustrated the value of expanding into self-storage by conducting an in-depth UX audit and comparing customer journey maps across competitors, ultimately influencing business initiatives at Clutter.

Role

Sole designer and researcher for project

Theme

Customer Journey, Service Design

Constraints

2 weeks for research, 1 for design

Impact

Informed Clutter's initiative to acquire self-storage facilities

Background
Research
UX Audit
Journey Maps
Design Process
Prototypes
Takeaways

Background

How might we add to Clutter's offerings to expand our customer base?

Clutter is first and foremost a premiere, full-service storage company. However, in order to expand our offerings to a larger audience, we must also consider expanding into self-service storage.

My task was to illustrate the value of expanding into self-service storage by conducting competitors analysis and market audit. I would also compare and contrast the benefits of full-service versus self-service.

This research effort was in line with an initiative to partner with self-storage companies and to engage potential markets.

🗺 Conduct user research and map customer journeys for self-service storage of competitors, and compare to Clutter's current referral service

Part I: Research Phase (2 weeks)

Our needs for storage are driven by life events

My family and I were in need of storage due to a recent passing in the family. We had to organize, pack, and store contents from the family member’s home. We also had to consider self versus full-service storage due to the amount of time our family could dedicate to manually moving and storing.

📝 Story: The Nguyen family was organizing Dean’s funeral. Those involved with the trust needed to decide what to do with the belongings in his 3-story home. As the ones closest geographically to his home, my sister and I researched storage options that would best fit our family's needs.

Types of storage

There were 2 options to consider: self-service and full-service storage.

📦 Self-service storage

For self-service storage, Overall, greater flexibility, control, and lower prices made us more at ease.

  • Traditional storage system
  • Facilities within city limits
  • Customer can access facility
  • Customer responsible for packing, moving, and storing items
  • Self-service is flexible

🚚 Full-service storage

For full-service storage, the convenience of moving and storing could be worth its price point.

  • New storage system
  • Facilities outside of city limits
  • Customer cannot access facility
  • Service responsible for cataloguing, handling, and storing items
  • Full-service is convenient

Competitors

Clutter is partnered with dozens of self-storage companies in the U.S. and refers customers to their business if full-service is not preferred. Our referral service competed with existing self-storage services. I analyzed Public Storage, the leading self-storage company in the world, and Sparefoot, a self-storage marketplace.

Locations in both the U.S. and Europe, holding more than 142 million square feet of real estate, and over 2,300 self-storage operators in the U.S. Public Storage was valued at $2.56 billion by 2017.

A marketplace for self-storage, aggregating customer’s to find the self-storage operator that works best for them. Valued at about $50 million, Sparefoot completed its Series D funding in 2015.

Auditing the customer journey

Reserving a self-storage unit

📝 Story: As a customer interested in exploring self-service storage options, I reserved units from Public Storage and Sparefoot. The yellow icons are steps I completed online whereas the green icons are steps I had to complete in-person.

Public Storage

Sparefoot

Reviewing competitor's UI

  • Searching for self-storage gives user the ability to view a variety of locations
  • Map visualization of available locations for users to better control their search
  • Include contact information, overview of available units, pricing
  • Self-Storage facility designed as a profile, with individual ratings, reviews, available units
  • Lacks feedback as user is not redirected to confirmation page
  • Limited fields in reservation form with low commitment to pay for storage unit
  • Anticipate next steps; receiving a call, and prepare customer to pack their storage items
  • Secondary reminder to the website confirmation; commitment to memory through repetition
  • More consumer control with ability to manage reservations
📝 Story: To compare to Clutter’s Referral Service, I contacted Clutter Customer Service to get a free quote and see what it was like to receive a self-storage referral. (I used my sister’s name just in case anyone would recognize me over the phone.)

Clutter

Reviewing Clutter's UI

  • Search field only accepts zip code
  • Unclear value proposition on home page (full-service or self-service?)
  • Plan details are not formatted as itemized receipt
  • Higher threshold for submitting booking information because it requires payment info
  • Lacks feedback as user is not redirected to confirmation page
  • Spending more time with consulting team at Clutter to estimate the storage unit size
  • Customer has no control when searching for various self-storage facilities and prices

Comparing self-storage customer journeys

🚫 Clutter

  • Clutter uses a referral service to offer customers self-storage
  • Customer must exert more effort during Research and Book process because these stages are facilitated by Customer Service

❇️ Competitors

  • Customer can freely facilitate the Research and Book process online
  • Responsibility lies on the customer to follow through during the Move stage for both competitors and Clutter

Clutter's referral service requires customers to call in to customer service as well as the referred self-storage facility, which causes more friction because the beginning of the process is facilitated by human to human interaction.

It's much easier to book through competitors like Public Storage and Sparefoot because the first 2 steps in the self-storage process are facilitated through human computer interactions.

Self-storage competitors won

❇️ Control

The handling and storage of items is in the hands of full-service, whereas in self-service, the customer has control over personal-belongings.

❇️ Autonomy

Full-service requires appointments and time to retrieve items. Self-service gives us flexibility over retrieval of personal belongings.

❇️ Price

Due to other expenditures, the lower price was more appealing and affordable. We were willing to provide the manual labor.

📝 Story: My sister and I presented the storage options to our family. After our discussion, we found that self-service storage better served our needs because we needed flexible access to the facility.

Our family trusted ourselves over movers with the items when it came to moving and storing. We also needed to access important documents at a moment’s notice. We wanted to spend the least amount possible because of other expenses related to the passing of the family member.

Part II: Design Phase (1 week)

The research phase gave evidence that offering self-service storage to our customer's would engage a potential market. Although my task was completed, I decided to take the research I had collected and move on to the design phase. This took place after my time at Clutter and was completed in a week.

Outlining goals and outcomes

Jobs to be done

I used my experience in needing a storage unit to create  a series of jobs to be done. This artifact allowed me to focus on achieving outcomes based on the perspective of the customer and his/her situation.

Thematic groupings

I identified 4 important aspects to the process of reserving a self-storage unit: Education, Browsing, Booking, and Management. Under each, I listed information a customer would like to have access to.

Feature ideation

Iterations and flow

Prototypes

Clutter's self-service

Clutter's full-service

Takeaways

Research can inform business initiatives

Through research and emulating the self-storage customer journey, I created a strong case for Clutter to look further into how they could improve their self-storage experience. After presenting this to my product manager, Michael Cummings, the Business Development team decided to pursue acquisition of self-storage facilities in order to expand their services.

Storytelling and context

A month into my position at Clutter, my uncle had passed away, and I found myself grappling with grief while trying to maintain momentum at work. But the strange and coincidental thing was that I was experiencing a major life event that needed storage. And go figure, I also worked at a storage company.

This project served as a personal and professional exploration. It allowed me to experience the unique context of a customer that needed storage while also contributing to Clutter as a research expert.