Project Guide Tips and tools to help your idea go further

A rough guide to
managing your idea
Tools, tips and templates to help your idea take
off in the Customer Cup. If you need further
help or advice, check the Innovation Centre at or contact
[email protected]
Let’s get started
So, you’ve identified an opportunity to improve something for our customers
and want to collaborate with your colleagues to make it happen?
Well, this little pocket guide* is for you.
This guide provides you with a little bit of inspiration
for your Aviva Customer Cup idea, a collection of
philosophies used by successful teams across Aviva,
which we hope will help you make the most of your
big idea.
What you’ll find is a range of hints, tips, tools and
techniques that successful Aviva Customer Cup teams
use regularly to make their visions a reality. They’ll help
you identify issues, better understand the needs of the
customer, create innovative solutions and implement
them with lasting results.
*Larger than usual pockets may be required.
There are a number of effective methods for resolving
customer problems. The ones you’re about to see will help
you successfully develop your idea while ensuring the
customer is always at the centre of what you’re doing.
Look out for our top six tips
that are highlighted
throughout with this icon.
Wherever you see this icon
in the guide you’ll be able to
find a useful template that
can be downloaded from
Finding inspiration in improvement
The beginnings of a great idea often start by
identifying a problem or an opportunity in the
customer experience. However, a poorly
defined issue can be a major cause of failure.
This can be avoided by taking the time to
really understand what it is from the outset.
Identify these opportunities early and you’re on
your way to success in the Aviva Customer Cup
and, more importantly, to improving the
customer experience.
Some tools that are good to use at this stage.
• Business case – documents the objective, scope and
estimated benefits of your idea and is signed off by
your finance manager. Business cases are only
required for those teams who pass the first round.
However, it’s a valuable document to think about
using upfront as it will help keep you on track and
ensure you’ve got a clear picture of what the idea is
trying to achieve.
• Stakeholder plan – understand how your idea
impacts internal and external customers, and identify
who you need help from within Aviva.
• Voice of the customer – this tool will help you
describe customer wants and needs in their language
and from their point of view.
• Process mapping – create a map of the end-to-end
process you’ll be working through.
• SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) – is a great tool to help get to the key
challenges that we need to address in order to deliver
the business objectives.
Business case
What is it?
A structured approach that provides a clear description
of your idea and what you hope to achieve. It’s
important to regularly review this to keep you on track
and agree changes as it evolves.
Why would I use it?
The business case contains reasons for undertaking the
idea, objectives etc.
When do I use it?
It helps establish your objectives at the start and can be
attached to your entry in the Aviva Innovation Centre to
give others a chance to see more detail about your idea.
Every idea that progresses past the first round requires a
business case.
How would I use it?
It captures the essence of your idea and helps
operationalise the detail into a plan that can be followed
by the business. The case summary, issues and objectives
and planned activity are important aspects that need to be
agreed up front by the sponsor and team. You’ll also have
an opportunity to show the main milestones and idea
scope. The business case describes the situation prior to
and post implementation of your idea and your rationale
for change. Consider up front:
To check that you have effective objectives make sure
they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable,
Relevant and Time-Bound. Make sure your goals are
relevant to your idea.
• why is the idea worth pursuing?
• why is it important to do it now?
• what are the consequences of not doing it?
• increase sales of Pension products by 10% by
December 2014
• reduce the amount of incorrectly routed customer
phone calls to the Administration Team by 50% by
March 2015
• get it right first time by eliminating all errors for policy
documents supplied to customers by August 2016.
By talking through and agreeing the above, your
colleagues and stakeholders will understand the business
reasons for the idea.
You might not have all the data you need to make
decisions, but rather than guessing, leave gaps in the
business case until you’re able to evidence with facts and
substantiated data.
Your plan should focus on the results and impact you are
seeking to achieve. It should not make assumptions
about the causes or solution to the issue.
Ideally it should contain a measurable target and
completion date, for example:
Voice of the customer
What is it?
Voice of the customer (VOC) helps you describe and
understand customer wants and needs from their point
of view.
When do I use it?
The most effective time to use VOC is when you’re
defining the scope of your idea and the issues
affecting it.
Why would I use it?
It helps you translate what a customer has said into
measurable requirements called ‘CTQs’ – Critical to
quality. By knowing what is critical to the customer
experience, you can act on their requirements and
measure your progress against them.
How would I use it?
Gather as much customer sentiment as possible; this
will help you get a rounded of view of their needs.
There are a number of sources you can use, including
market research, customer focus groups, surveys and
even complaints.
Consider some of these questions:
• who is the customer?
• how big is the customer base?
• what proportion of the customer base will
the idea impact?
• what difference will the idea make to
the customer?
• will they be aware of the impact?
• how have you involved your customers?
What the customer may be saying
The key issues could be
The CTQs could be
“You put me on hold or put me through to
the wrong department.”
Being put through to the right
person as promptly as possible.
Customer gets through to the correct person,
first time, in 10 seconds.
“You send me an invoice at
a different time each month.”
Consistent monthly billing.
Customer receives their bill on
the same day each month.
“It takes too long to process my claim and
get me the money when it’s needed.”
Speed up the claim process so
money is received on time.
Customer receives money on
their requested date.
Stakeholder planning
What is it?
As you develop your idea, you’ll need to communicate
with a wide range of people both in and outside Aviva.
These are referred to as ‘stakeholders’. Stakeholder
planning is a way of understanding which people
you need to make contact with over the course of
your idea development.
Why would I use it?
It helps you understand and engage with Aviva’s internal
and external customers, ensuring they know where you
are with your idea. It’ll also help you find the best way to
update them on a regular basis and keep you aware of
where they stand in terms of buy-in for the idea.
When do I use it?
This is good to use early on to confirm who your
customers and stakeholders are. It helps you engage
with the right people throughout the process, which
in turn will help make the idea a success.
How would I use it?
Start by considering all the people that may be impacted
and look at the process from as many angles as possible
to reveal stakeholders that you may not normally
consider to be involved. Remember to think about the
outputs and how they may impact external customers.
Using this tool with stakeholder analysis.
Stakeholder Analysis helps you work out who these
people are, how they may view your idea and how to
communicate with them.
How the process works:
• identify all stakeholders, either individually or as
a group
• identify where you feel they are currently in terms
of support for your idea
• identify where you need them to be in order to
make your idea a success
• if there’s a big gap between where you think they
are and where they need to be, you’ll have to work
harder at persuading them to help you
• create a communications plan for the stakeholders
you need to influence.
Customer journey mapping
What is it?
A customer journey map is a visualization of the customer
experience and the emotional response it creates.
Why use it?
Taking a closer look at the customer journey reveals their
wants and needs. It enables us to identify the most
important parts of the journey and see the moments of
truth that really affect their experience. This gives us both
a fundamental and an emotional perspective of our
customers, leading to a more rounded understanding of
how to meet and exceed their expectations while
building a more personal relationship.
When to use it?
This is best used at the beginning of your idea to identify
points for improvement in the customer journey.
How to use it.
Begin by defining the scope of the journey, the customers
and what the products are. Collate as much information
as you can about the customer experience as a whole.
You may need to set up a team meeting to agree on the
relevant stages of the journey you are focusing on.
Rate the expectations of the customer using Voice of
the customer details to determine the following:
Touch point
A touch point is a distinct part of the process where your customer is likely to pause and evaluate if they are
delighted or disappointed with their experience. It can occur at any point where the customer interacts with Aviva.
What the customer expects
as a given.
Can drive satisfaction when
consistently done well.
Take for granted.
Voting point
Make the customer decide whether
or not they want to do business
with us. A key touch point where
the customer could ‘vote’ whether
to stay or leave.
Moment of truth
Interactions that create the
emotional connection with
the customer.
Create trust.
How we aspire to be the
‘way we work’.
Process mapping
What is it?
Process mapping accounts for all the facets that go into
creating a product or service, from people and
equipment to method, material and environment. Every
process is just a matter of steps, just like getting up in
the morning and making a cup of tea. By looking at
each step individually, we start to recognise the parts
that involve other people, both internally and externally,
and how they impact the process as a whole.
Why would I use it?
Every step should add value for the customer, seeking to
meet or exceed their requirements. For this to happen, it’s
important to recognise the process itself has requirements
that need to be met. Reviewing the process from start to
finish will help you identify where the failures or
inconsistencies are, which in turn will show where there
are opportunities to make improvements.
When do I use it?
Process mapping is most beneficial at the early stages
of your idea when you’re trying to define the
opportunity and define the customers it will impact. It’ll
also play an important role once you’ve decided on an
area of improvement, as you might create a new map
to show how you intend to develop the process.
For example, your goal may be to remove handoffs,
reduce steps that don’t add value or to shorten
end-to-end processing time.
How would I use it?
Start by naming and ordering the process, clarifying
where each stage starts and stops. Then identify who
your customers are and their required outputs from the
process, as well as the inputs and suppliers to the
process. Once you have the process mapped out in its
entirety with your improvement, take photos to assess
its complexity or simplicity as a whole. This makes it
easier for stakeholders or customers to see the work
you’ve done to identify the issues. Validate your new,
improved process by ‘walking through’ the map with
your team. We’re creatures of habit and often forget
certain steps without realizing it. This exercise might also
reveal new opportunities for improvement or bring to
light further issues.
SWOT analysis
What is it?
A SWOT analysis breaks down the competitive
advantages and disadvantages your business has
internally (Strengths and Weaknesses) and externally
(Opportunities and Threats).
Why would I use it?
It gives a holistic view of where future opportunities lie,
from exploiting internal competencies and consumer
insights, to eliminating internal process and minimizing
the impact of competitor activity.
When do I use it?
A SWOT analysis can be used in two ways – as a simple
icebreaker to help people bond and ‘kick off’ strategy
formation, or as a serious, sophisticated strategy tool. If
you are using it as the latter, make sure you’re rigorous
in the way you apply it.
How would I use it?
Make a list of where you’re performing well as a
business and where you’re lacking against the four areas
of analysis. This will help you realise the issues you’re
facing and where your possible advantages lie.
What are our
compared to our
What are
our internal
compared to our
What external
customer trends
and insights
could provide
to exploit?
What external
market or
situations could
threaten our
market position?
How big is the issue?
Measuring the scale of the problem makes it
clear how big the issue or opportunity is and
how many customers may be affected. Some
analysis at this stage will really help ensure your
idea has been thoroughly thought through and
you have a clear grasp of the opportunities.
Failing to accurately measure the extent of the
problem can lead you to focus on areas that
aren’t that important in the eyes of the
consumer. Correctly and accurately gauging its
extent will ensure your attention is on what
really matters to your customers, both internal
and external.
Tools you can use for this stage include:
• Baseline measurement – helps you understand the
current situation. What are you trying to improve and
how’s it currently performing?
• Pareto analysis – identify the minority issues that are
causing the majority of the problems (the 80:20 rule).
Baseline measurement
What is it?
A simple technique that ensures you ask the
right questions from the very start, giving you
a base measure to compare where you are now
and where you want to be.
Why would I use it?
Aviva has a wealth of measurement information
available, so the difficulty isn’t in obtaining the
data but understanding the meaning behind it.
When do I use it?
It’s most useful when establishing the scale of the
problem to confirm or challenge the estimations
you’ve made when developing your idea.
How would I use it?
Baseline measurement starts by asking:
‘What questions do you want the answers to?’
Be clear and simple with your questions. It’ll help
you identify your key measures and collect the right
data for the problem you are trying to fix. Have a
look at the three examples opposite.
Aim to reduce 20% of
customer complaints.
How many
customers complain?
What do they complain
Aim to reduce the
number of incorrect
policy documents
completed by 25%.
How often do we
incorrectly complete
a policy document?
What are the main
reasons customers
call to chase us for
an update?
What % of times do
customers make nonvalue-added calls?
Do we know what
customers value most
from our service.
Why do customers
have to call back?
Advice on sample size.
There are a few simple things to remember when
working out how extensive your sample size should be.
Too many will cost you time and money, too few won’t
reveal the results you need.
It’s also important to avoid bias in your results by
ensuring your data is representative, relative and
random. Take into consideration anomalies in dates,
events and other performance issues that may impact
the validity of your research. For example – the
significant increase of inbound calls immediately after a
bank holiday.
Pareto analysis / 80:20
What is it?
Pareto analysis encourages you to focus on the issues
causing the most impact. The Pareto Principle states that
80% of problems are caused by just 20% of the issues.
Why would I use it?
It helps you see the key issues in a visual format,
narrowing your concentration to remove distractions
that could potentially waste time.
When do I use it?
It’s most effective when you’re measuring the scale
of the issue you’re dealing with to uncover the
biggest problems.
How would I use it?
Start with the baseline question:
‘What do we want to know?’
Example question:
Why are customers returning products?
Start by measuring the current status of the problem,
grouping the data into categories, such as returns due
to faulty goods, the wrong address, incorrect product
and so on.
The data from this brainstorming session is then
presented graphically with categories ordered from
highest to lowest frequency to show what is most
For example:
80% of customers’ complaints arise for 20% of
your products or services.
80% of delays in schedules arise from 20% of the
possible causes of the delays.
20% of your products or services account for 80%
of your profit.
20% of a system’s defects cause 80% of its problems.
Often you’ll find that just one or two categories are
responsible for most of the errors: the 80:20 rule.
So prioritize those categories!
Remember the impact of ‘cost’ when reviewing
contributing factors. Whilst a reason may not be in
the 80%, it may have a huge financial implication.
So what’s the cause?
Having meaningful results is all about
defining the root causes and understanding
what’s really behind what your customers
are experiencing.
If these root causes aren’t identified early,
you won’t improve the customer experience.
But this can be avoided by utilizing root cause
analysis tools to target the cause. Achieve
this, and you’ll make a real difference to the
customer experience.
Some recommended tools for this stage are:
• Brainstorming – generate as many creative ideas
and solutions as you can.
• Fishbone – focus your brainstorming and group
the relative causes together.
• Five Whys – a simple tool to help you drill down to
root causes.
What is it?
Brainstorming encourages creative thinking and the
generation of ideas in an open forum. Get everything
out – every thought, every idea – because you never
know when inspiration will strike.
The rules.
Many people use the term ‘brainstorming’ to
mean any kind of conversation about ideas. But
brainstorming has specific rules that you should
follow to get the best results:
Why would I use it?
It fuels the production of novel, original responses, which
can be dealt with more reflectively through analysis and
discussion at a later date.
• quantity not quality – get as many ideas out as
you can
• don’t criticize or judge ideas, even your own
• get everyone involved
• write down all your ideas without comment or
• group members can add to ideas but cannot alter
or delete them
• freewheel – just let the ideas flow, you never know
where one thought or random tangent may lead.
When do I use it?
Although it is being utilised here in the analysis stage,
brainstorming is a process that can be used at any time.
How would I use it?
You’ll need a scribe to write down the ideas, preferably
in a format where everyone can see the ideas that have
come before (such as a flip chart or whiteboard).
Select a member to lead the session, someone with a
positive and encouraging style that can keep people
motivated and to the rules of brainstorming. Then all you
have to do is gather your team in a room and start talking.
Present the problem you are addressing as a ‘how to’
statement. For example: ‘We're generating ideas about
reducing errors’.
Decide on a limit of some kind to keep you focused,
whether it be time, number of ideas, or number of flip
charts to cover. Keep going until you reach your agreed
limit, always reminding the group of the rules of
brainstorming to keep things on track.
If you find you have lots of ideas – prioritize!
But do that at the end.
What is it?
Fishbone is a technique that helps to focus brainstorming
and group the possible root causes of a stated problem.
Why would I use it?
It’s very helpful to link causes with eventual effects and
to reveal previously unrecognised relationships. By
making these visual they’ll help you tell your story.
When do I use it?
It’s most useful during the analysis stage. It’s good to use
the outputs of Fishbone to ask the 'Five Whys' questions.
How would I use it?
• Write down what you think the problem is at the
right-hand side of your diagram. This is the fish’s
‘head’. Draw a line across the paper horizontally from
the box. This is your fish’s ‘spine.’
• Identify the major causes. Draw lines off the main
spine to represent each major cause.
• Brainstorm why each of the major causes happens.
Add the detailed reasons for each major cause to
the diagram.
• It’s very likely that you’ll have to modify the diagram
as you go along. It is not fixed forever! Keep doing
this until you’re happy that you’ve broken down the
problem into all its parts.
You’ll usually find three basic types of causes:
1. Physical causes – tangible, material items that
might have failed in some way (for example, a car’s
brakes stopped working).
2. Human causes – people did something wrong, or
did not do what needed to be done. Human causes
typically lead to physical causes (for example,
forgetting to send a document to a customer leading
to delays and complaints).
3. Organisational causes – a system, process or
policy that people use to make decisions or do
their work is faulty, (for example, the process has
multiple handoffs to teams in the organisation
without clear responsibility for tracking the
customer journey experience).
Five Whys
What is it?
A simple question, over and over, that will help you get
to the heart of the issue. The more you ask, the more
you’ll uncover.
Why would I use it?
When you’re trying to get to the root of a problem, you
may need to discard assumptions and traditions that are
no longer relevant. The Five Whys can help you do that.
When do I use it?
It’s particularly useful once you have begun to group the
causes of your issues and want to dig a little deeper to
reveal what’s really behind the problems you’re seeing.
How would I use it?
Simple – just keep asking ‘why?’ We suggest asking at
least five times but you can ask as many times as you like
until you get the answers you’re looking for.
Here’s an example of how it works.
The number of incoming customers to the call centre this
week is up 20%.
Customers are unhappy with the service they’re getting
at the moment.
The invoices for claims they’ve made haven’t been
settled with suppliers.
The central invoice team hasn’t been able to settle
payments with suppliers.
They didn’t realise that a batch of work hadn’t been
allocated correctly.
The work was lost between the post room and the
department, which wasn’t spotted until complaints
were received.
So while the top-level cause is the call centre receiving
an increase in customer calls, the root cause was an
internal post issue that put the central invoice team
behind on their payment settlement process. This is a
basic example but it shows the difference between
causes and root causes.
Taking an idea forward
Whether your idea is in progress or you’re
looking to develop it further for the next round
of the Customer Cup, your next step is to
decide how it should be implemented to ensure
it’s as successful as it can be. In short, it’s about
putting actions and improvements in place that
will have the most positive effect on the
customer experience.
Remember – make sure your solutions are
directly linked to the root causes of the
problem. Otherwise you may end up solving a
different issue to the one you have identified,
which means you won’t be making the
difference you should be for your customer.
Some recommended tools for this stage.
• Milestone improvement plan – identifies the
steps, resources and outcomes for your
improvement activities.
• Risk assessment – before you introduce a change
it’s important to establish any potential impacts on
the customer or business. Doing this early will help
you mitigate any issues and have a plan in place to
avoid any problems.
• Piloting – a safe way to test out your ideas and
theories. You can start small in an environment that
will help prove the concept before you implement
on a larger scale.
• Monitoring and tracking – to maintain pace and
achieve your goals you will need to have a plan
that checks your progress. It’ll allow you to consider
whether the idea has been able to lead to
sustainable improvements.
Milestone improvement plan
What is it?
A focused approach to planning that ensures every
activity is contributing to its overall progress. Milestones
are a way of defining the road map that will get you to
your goals.
Why use them?
The Milestone improvement plan keeps you on track and
helps you see the progress from one stage to the next.
You’ll be able to pinpoint where the hold-ups are and
what needs a little extra attention, assigning ownership
for each and every action.
The milestones will mark the key steps and activities on
your improvement journey. As you progress you will have
a clearer understanding of what’s required and the
milestones will become more accurate.
When do I use them?
They are most useful when you’re planning and
deploying your improvements.
How would I use them?
Milestone improvement plans should provide a sense of
urgency and a feeling of accomplishment. Your plan
should contain a list of actions, outcomes, owners, due
dates, stakeholders and budgets.
Next steps:
• complete a first draft of the table for each
category. These will change over time as you add
more activities
• add major milestones
• monitor the status of each activity. Use colours to
indicate status, with green meaning ‘completed’,
amber meaning ‘may fail’ or ‘not yet completed’,
red meaning ‘failed’ or ‘delayed’.
Risk assessment
What is it?
This will help you identify the risks to service, product,
performance or technology associated with your
improvement plan and how they might impact the
customer or the business.
Why would I use it?
It’s important to recognise from the beginning that
your idea may have some areas of weakness or
compromise. Knowing this, you’ll be able to monitor,
mitigate or eliminate them before you launch or
implement change. It’s always better to be prepared
than to be caught out later.
When do I use it?
Risk assessment can be undertaken at any stage, from
the very start when you know your opportunity,
through to the final design of your solution.
How would I use it?
Gather all your idea documentation, including process
maps and measurements. Brainstorm the stages in your
process where you believe there is a risk of failure or
there is evidence of poor performance.
Review all these issues, being as honest as you can about
the likelihood that these issues might occur and their
frequency. These can then be assigned ratings, which
will help you track the most notable threats to success.
What is it?
Think big but start small. Piloting allows you to test your
theories on a small scale, gathering results that give an
insight into how successful your idea might be.
Why would I use it?
Think of it as a work in progress or an experiment that
helps you see what’s working well, what isn’t and where
you need to make changes.
When do I use it?
Piloting is particularly useful when you want to test a
new process in a safe and controlled environment. You’ll
be able to manage the associated risks, which in turn will
provide a selling opportunity for your approach.
How would I use it?
There are some important things to remember when
planning your pilot:
• create a realistic testing environment that mirrors the
real-world application of the idea. This will help you
see the best- and worst-case scenarios.
• Don’t force the pilot to work, this will only cause
larger problems in a live environment.
Step by step:
• design a plan to introduce the pilot with clear
measures in place to track the improvements
• record any issues or risks that emerge so they can be
addressed appropriately
• ensure stakeholders support the changes and that
results are shared on a weekly basis.
Make sure you give your pilot a reasonable length of
time to show meaningful results but not so long that
they lose value. Always be honest – if your solution isn’t
working, start again.
Monitoring and tracking
What is it?
Monitoring involves looking at the data you’ve
generated, while tracking is about reviewing how it
changes over time. Together they help you make sure
you’re getting the improvements you desire.
Why would I use it?
It helps you gauge the impact of your idea on key
measures to deliver sustainable improvements with longlasting value. An important thing to keep in mind is that
you should demonstrate, as best you can, that the
improvement in your measures are a result of what you
did during the improve stage.
When do I use it?
Once you’ve implemented your solution and have
begun to monitor its success.
How would I use it?
Always make sure you are tracking the right data and
use a method that shows how it changes over time,
such as a graph, so you can analyse trends. Look for
changes and extremes, taking action where potential
problems arise.
Onwards and upwards
What’s next? The most important part of any Aviva Customer Cup idea is you,
your team and keeping your momentum going to deliver real results to customers.
It’s not easy but it’s incredibly rewarding.
If at any stage you need further advice or support,
make sure you visit
You’ll find loads of tips, techniques and templates to
help you succeed. These templates aren’t mandatory
but they’ll help you to further your chance for success.
And remember, we’re here to help too. You can
contact a member of our Customer Cup team at
[email protected]
Good luck!