Funeralcare team welcomes a new user researcher

Photo of Mark Branigan, user researcher on Funeralcare

I’m Mark and I recently joined Co-op Digital as a user researcher on Co-op Funeralcare. I’m part of a multi-disciplinary team which means I work alongside developers, designers and product managers as well as internal and external subject matter experts from the funeralcare industry.

At Co-op Digital we’re building a service so that our Co-op Funeralcare colleagues can meet the needs of their customers more efficiently. The less time spent doing paperwork, the more time they have for their customers. Their role includes welcoming friends and family who are visiting their loved one, arranging personalised keepsakes, and of course organising the funeral including the cremation or burial.

As a user researcher, I help my team learn about our Funeralcare colleague’s roles; which systems are already in place and where digital can make things better. The best way for me to do this is by visiting funeral homes, listening to my colleagues who work there, and watching them at work.

When I’m back in the office I relay what I’ve found out to the rest of my team. That said, I believe that ‘user research is a team sport’ so I always encourage my colleagues to come and see for themselves too.

Contextual research (actually going to the place to see how things work) makes sure we build a service based on needs rather than on our assumptions of what our colleagues need. So in this sense, my role is to make sure that when my team starts iterating on the service or building a new feature, we know it’s going to be useful as well as useable. Contextual research means that both time and money are spent wisely. We’ll iterate what we build along the way, of course.

I feel privileged to be on this team. Our Funeralcare colleagues only have one chance to arrange a loved one’s funeral. Building something that helps them do that smoothly and sensitively feels like a really important thing to work on and get right.

Mark Branigan
User researcher, Funeralcare

Publishing data on Membership

At the Co-op AGM 2016 we said that we’re going to use digital to make membership stronger and more vibrant.

Since then we’ve been engaging with members online and in their communities to give as many people a voice as possible. We shared the data we’d found around our active members once we’d defined what ‘active’ means back in August.

Part of the reason for publishing that data is to be clear on where we’re starting from. We can use these numbers to find out how much stronger and how much more vibrant the new Co-op membership is, and how engaged people are with it.

The data we collect belongs to all of us – that’s the nature of a co-operative. This is why we’ve created a Co-op Membership Data page where you can see:

  • the number of active members
  • the number of new members
  • how much our members have earned for themselves and local causes
  • how much members have spent in the core business

Screen grab of the Membership data page showing 3.92 million active members and 303,000 new members. Members have earned 9.72 million pounds worth of rewards and 26.6% of our food turnover is from our members

We’ll update the numbers every week and blog regularly about the progress we’re making.

Rufus Olins – Chief Membership Officer
Mike Bracken – Chief Digital Officer

Engaging with members online and in their communities

Last week, Alex blogged about the ways members are giving feedback through the opportunities on the Membership website. Members are already talking to us about existing products, ideas for new ones and ways we can improve their experience. Since September when we launched the new membership:

  • over 800 members have been helping our local sourcing team find the best British beers by suggesting local ales they want their Co-op to stock
  • 1300 members helped our food teams by answering questions about their favourite pizza toppings, bases and sauces
  • over 1000 members have helped the Co-op Brand team explore our baby ranges, pet food and Free-From range

We’ve always had a range of online opportunities that members can get involved in, but recently the Member Voice team have been organising offline opportunities within local communities that members can sign up to through the Membership website. The aim of the research is the same but it’s more personal and often more in depth. And often more fun!

Visiting members in their communities

One of the most useful ways to gather information on members and their relationship with the Co-op is to visit them. Me, Mark Robinson-Field and Jo Warburton from the Member Voice team have been out in communities, getting members together or catching up with them in their routines.

Dog walking in Wales

With the help of the local Member Pioneers and Deb Wozencraft, the Co-op Engagement Advisor covering Wales, we organised dog walks in Wrexham and Machynlleth. We wanted to find out about our members’ pet food buying habits so we could see if we’re meeting their needs. We asked them where they buy dog food and what type they go for, whether the Co-op is their first point of call or more of a top-up shop. We also asked whether they buy doggy treats from us.

Members and their dogs outside the Co-op store in Wrexham before the dog walk.

Baby talk in Didsbury

We also dropped in on a parent and toddler group in Didsbury to talk to members about their shopping habits when it comes to their children.

We asked parents to arrange cardboard cut-outs of various, unbranded baby/toddler products on a shelf. It helped us understand what they need from their local Co-op and which products, in which size packs, would be make their experience easier and quicker.

Activity completed by parents in Didsbury. Image shows the types of baby products parents would like to see stocked in their local Co-op.

It takes time, but it’s worth it

We’ve found that this kind of contextual research is invaluable because we get to see a slice of people’s lives. It helps us understand more about their lives, how we fit into them and how we can meet their needs better.

Members have been phenomenally generous with their time in supporting their Co-op. In fact, since September members have given over 780 hours of their time to making their Co-op better, that’s 33 days!

Members can visit membership.coop.co.uk to find out how they can make their local Co-op better for their community. If you’d like to become a member you can sign up for membership.

Terry Mcleod

Looking for different ways members can get involved with Co-op

Recently we started looking at different ways in which our members can get involved with our Co-op and share their opinions. Some examples of what members have supported so far are:

To get involved, members simply go to Co-op Membership and find something they’d like to join in with. 

Screen shot of the local causes areas of our website
Co-op Membership 

Not everyone is confident with digital channels and there’s a perception that it’s only young people who will embrace things like this. It would be a shame if that was the case, because the invitation to participate is open and relevant to all our members.

To make sure that we’re including as many our of members as possible we’re keeping an eye on the sign-up data. Using this we’re learning what we can do better.

This data is handled anonymously, sensitively and securely. This is about us using data for the benefit of our members to help us to be an inclusive Co-op.

I had a look at some of the data and plotted the following histograms of the ages of Members who signed up for the opportunities listed at the start of this post:

An image showing co-op Member ages and sign up's to our Join In initiative

To me, this data tells us we’re attracting members from a wide range of ages. The different opportunities themselves are appealing to different ages too. There’s a lot more to be said about this data but I’ll leave it there for now and welcome readers to comment.

Alex Waters
Data Science

 

Liverpool Geek Girl Academy awards

We’ve been sponsoring the Liverpool Geek Girl Academy. The Academy was created to inspire girls who may not have considered a career in technology before to experience what that might be like.

Picture from one of the Liverpool Geek Girl Academy sessions
Image courtesy of Liverpool Geek Girls

Last week they celebrated the end of the programme and showcased what the 15 girls had achieved.

A picture of all the attendees of Liverpool Geek Girl Academy
Image courtesy of Liverpool Geek Girls

Over 8 week 15 girls ages 11-15 coded, bonded and successfully built their own websites using WordPress. 

 Becky Arrowsmith who’s a developer at Co-op also stopped by during the Academy to give the girls a a special master class.

The winner received a one to one with Mike Little one of the founders of WordPress and he also presented the awards. The winner was Amelia Roberts, aged 13 who created a website to celebrate Tim Peake and space exploration.  You can hear from Amelia in the video below.

 

“I have really enjoyed Girl Geeks Academy. It has helped me realise how much I can do and achieve, and that tech isn’t just for the boys anymore!”

Amelia Roberts

It was a pleasure to be at the awards ceremony and see the change in the girls since I first met them on their first day. I saw girls with more confidence and with a new found curiosity in technology. This is so important as studies suggest that only 1% of the tech workforce will be female by 2040 if we don’t try and redress the balance. Providing opportunities like this to show what a career in tech is like will hopefully encourage more girls to take that step.

The Co-op is committed to education and diversity which is why we were delighted to have sponsored this event.

Danielle Haugedal-Wilson
Business Architect

Ian Ferguson – social media community manager

I’m so pleased to welcome Ian to the social media team. Ian’s a Community Manager, responsible for helping our Co-op better understand online social communities, having spent the best part of his early career helping others do the same.

A Picture of Ian Ferguson - social media community manager
Ian Ferguson

Communities are important to Co-op, because we’re co-owned by over 5 million members, who each live in local communities where we operate Food stores and Funeral homes. But, increasingly we’re all forming communities online too, ones that transcend geographical boundaries and instead form around common interests and ideas.

It’s Ian’s job (and Scott’s, Sophie’s and Catherine’s) is to to find relevant online communities, understand them and introduce them to our Co-op, as well as to keep talking and listening to our existing members. The two-way dialogue we can have on social media means we can welcome more and more people, their thoughts and ideas into our Co-op.

Welcome to the team, Ian.

Jordan McDowell
Senior Social Media Manager