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Quick tests, fast results, strong signals

Quick tests, fast results, strong signals

July 03 , 2017

Caroline Chali, Airtel Money Agent

Smiles infront of her shop in Mumbwa

Lukasa, Zambia - 

In a previous blog, we focused on how human-centric design approach was used to co-create ideas with Airtel Money agents. In this blog, we will talk about what followed next, the process of setting up behavioral trials and iterative testing.

Following the process of ideation and co-creation with the Airtel Money agents, 17 Triggers and UNCDF were left with several ideas to test, to determine which ones could become viable solutions to address the liquidity management challenges that agents were facing. The ideas were ranked in order of desirability (is this something the agents want), feasibility (do the providers have the technology and processes in place to support such an idea) and viability (will the resulting solution be cost effective).

Setting up behavioral trials

Once the top three ideas were selected, the research team went about setting up behavioral trials where agents would be exposed to prototypes of the ideas they had helped co-create, for a short period of time in a setting that mirrored their everyday experiences. During the trials, the agents’ interactions with the prototype and any changes in their behavior and actions would be recorded and analyzed. This analysis would help determine the impact the introduction of the intervention is likely to have once it is fully implemented in the agents’ daily practices.

To design the trials, the research team scouted different locations and reviewed the profiles of various agents in each of these locations. With input from Airtel, the team settled on 3 locations where each of the 3 concepts that made the final ranking list would be tested with a group of 10 agents for a period of 3 weeks. The 3 week time frame was chosen because it was a relatively quick time frame to get results but long enough for the agents involved in the trial to get past the initial novelty of the interventions and allow the research team to understand actual usage patterns that emerged.

Iterative testing in the field

When it comes to the human-centric design approach, a key part of the behavioral trials is the iterative testing process. This is a process by which every idea, concept, intervention goes through a process of continual testing and tweaking using observations and feedback gathered from the test subjects to inform subsequent iterations of the concept. Airtel appreciated this process because they were able to get fast results and strong signals.

For instance, prior to the start of the trials agents were asked to agree on the set of norms that would govern their interactions with each other and the provider for one of the concepts tested. However, in practice, the research team observed new norms emerge. This provided an opportunity for them to check in with the agents to ascertain what was going on and how this new set of norms could be incorporated into the product design. The iterative testing process also allowed the research team to quickly uncover what tools worked and which ones did not work when it came to testing tools for customer perception and float awareness.

Key takeaways

When it comes to employing behavioral trials and iterative testing methods, the key things for providers to focus on are that

  • It is quick and yields fast results. Testing periods can be relatively short e.g. a couple of weeks, as long as they allow enough time to observe changes in behavior due to the introduction of an intervention or a change in the normal working process
  • Helps identify strong signals that draw the providers attention to areas that need to be addressed for proposed solutions to be as effective as possible.

Stay tuned for the next blog where we delve deeper into one of the concepts that was tested, the results gained from applying human-centric design and iterative testing to understanding agent journeys and prototyping products with constant agent feedback.

For more information, please contact
Uloma Ogba
Knowledge Management Consultant
Nandini Harihareswara
Regional Technical Specialist, Digital Finance
Additional Information
Uloma Ogba
Knowledge Management Consultant