Behind the scenes: Designing ‘the Twill experience’

How is service design different from product design?
Twill is in the business of freight-forwarding, which is, in essence, a service. Although we spend much of our energy on our digital platform, at the same time we are aware that this is only part of the experience we provide.

We want to offer our customers ‘the Twill experience’, which is influenced by many touchpoints — both digital and analogue.

A customer might come across our website, be in touch with our sales team, use the platform, receive emails and get support from our customer care team. Service design is in its core holistic and considers the entire customer journey, from beginning to end.

Product design typically solves problems that are confined to an individual product. Although designers at Twill are in fact part of the ‘product team’, we spend a lot of time thinking about how we can serve every part of the journey. We want to empower our customer care team to reach out to customers proactively — and they need a platform for that. Our pricing managers need to be able to handle the complexity of quotation, in order for customers to see quotes instantly. The right emails need to go out to our customers at the right times. And all of these systems need to tie together.

This, essentially, is service design.

‘The Twill experience’ is a daily topic of discussion around the office. We know that we still need to put in a lot of hard work to reach our ideal customer journey— but the service design approach is helping us to focus our efforts in the right places.

Where does ‘design thinking’ come into place?
The term ‘design thinking’ was coined a few years ago and helped get rid of a persistent idea: that design is about color or decoration. Instead, adding the word thinking to the word design has put attention on the process designers use to get to a more intentional outcome. That’s when other business areas began seeing the value of design and applying it in their jobs, too.

At Twill, we like to learn from each other across our different disciplines. It is understood that design thinking is a way of approaching problems. It is not design itself, no more than agile is engineering (as a matter of fact — our leadership team works agile, too).

And most teams have already adopted some form of design thinking into their daily work. A good example of this is our operations team. They have set up a structured process to come up with ideas to improve their way of working (most of the time informed by user feedback).

Every week members of the customer care team dial in, discuss their pain points and come up with solutions together. They will then run experiments in one or two offices and if successful, the solution is then implemented on a larger scale. This is design thinking in a nutshell – and it will be revolutionary in the logistics industry.

How would you define your contribution to Twill?
I recently read an article that said that ‘companies used to compete on business models, then technology, and now design’. This especially true in tech — and with the logistics industry moving into the digital sphere, it will inevitably be true for Twill.

Our goal is to create a platform that can be used by anyone who needs their cargo shipped, with or without prior knowledge of logistics. This is really a design question: how can we direct users’ attention to the right places and make sure they get the right information at the right time?

It also needs to be comprehensive for users from different age groups and self-explanatory rather than using complicated, technical jargon. Everything needs to be intentional and I think that’s where good design can really make the difference.

What makes the Twill design team different from others?
We are currently still a pretty small team, each with their unique skills and capabilities. The one most important thing that sets us up for success is collaboration: knowing each other’s strengths, continually asking for critique, openness, and trust. This is key to delivering quality and at the same time helps us to grow as designers. Plus, it makes Twill a really fun place to work!

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