Natural Resources Wales
Embedding into a culture to drive meaningful change
Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru/Natural Resources Wales (NRW) is the largest Welsh Government Sponsored Body - employing 2,600 staff across Wales with a budget of £180 million. NRW were formed in April 2013, largely taking over the functions of the Countryside Council for Wales, Forestry Commission Wales and the Environment Agency in Wales, as well as certain Welsh Government functions.
With such a wide scope of responsibility, understanding how NRW’s customers thought about them and their services and how to improve them, is a real challenge.
NRW had increasingly become siloed and customer journey mapping had never been undertaken in a deliberate and comprehensive way. Internally, this has led to inconsistencies in knowledge around customer perceptions.
There was a clear desire within NRW to give the customers the ability to talk to independent observers about their experiences interacting with NRW. The key task was to help unlock an internal change within the NRW organisation, by bringing the customer experience to life as a way of connecting the organisation from the outside in.
Mima knew from the outset that one of the keys to unlocking innovation at the heart of NRW rested on making sure that we integrated as closely as possible with the team, in order to truly understand the workflows and interdependencies within the organisation. Phil Nutley, Head of Innovation and Experience Design picks up the starting point for the collaboration:
“When we set off on this journey we wanted NRW to feel that we weren’t just another agency working for them. We knew that translating all our materials into Welsh first and always having a translator available was crucial to making sure that we got under the skin of the culture and how it feels to be a part of NRW.”
Naomi Lawrence, Head Of Customer Experience at Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru / Natural Resources Wales, continues the story: “we have a lot of customers that speak Welsh. So in order to get the proper involvement from all the people we have to do it bilingually and I think it's fair to say that when I put this work out to tender, that was where most of the agencies fell down because they couldn't provide that capability, so the fact that Mima had that capability was a USP because they were able to deliver it It made a massive difference and it kind of sets the standard now.”
In addition to integration with the team, Mima needed to really understand the organisation and so began the research and development phase of the project.
Research and development & buy-in
With the help of the wider NRW team, Mima delved deeply into all available existing documentation. From strategy reports to data from other parts of the NRW organisation such as the digital team and the website to harvesting data and reports created by other organisations for NRW, Mima absorbed and integrated a range of data sources and made them easier to access and understand.
In order to really understand NRW, Mima needed to learn where the pain points in the organisation existed, where people were struggling with protocols, and where the opportunities for improvement were with systems and services. We triangulated those insights with face-to-face and virtual calls and conversations, as well as site visits, to both the main offices, in Cardiff and Bangor, and visits to all the visitor centres across Wales. To embed ourselves in the organisation, Mima spoke to over 100 people over multiple workshops, interviews, site visits and meetings.
Lisa Baker, Principal Consultant at Mima picks up the thread; “once we started to gain insights into pain points, we validated them with a range of teams. We ran lots of one-to-one, in-depth discovery calls to gain a holistic picture to be able to map the customer journey.
Analysis & timber sales
In order to create meaningful and actionable insights, and given the depth and breadth of the organisation, Mima decided to focus the customer journey mapping on one specific department: timber sales. The timber sales department is responsible for selling an astonishing 850,000 metric tonnes of timber every year. Timber production contributes to a prosperous timber processing and forestry sector and is recognised as a key contributor to a healthy rural economy and sustainable forest and natural resource management in Wales. As the largest supplier of certified timber in Wales, NRW’s ability to contribute towards and achieve these wider goals is influenced by its timber harvesting and marketing operations.
On the back of multiple internal stakeholder workshops with the timber sales team and in-depth customer interviews, Mima developed a customer journey map and coordinated these insights with those gathered from a range of stakeholders across NRW, to creating a set of personas aligned to their NRW brand values: ymarferol/pragmatic, ymroddgar/committed, egniol/energetic and balch/proud.
Mima then presented the personas back to all sections of the NRW team, including the Leadership Team Group as Lisa Baker explains; “to be truly effective customer journey mapping cannot be done in a vacuum. It must be part of the customer experience program, organisational strategy and overall culture of an organisation. It’s the narrative of what your customers do, think and feel when they do business with you in a way that helps you drive meaningful change. Journey mapping provides the compass by which that vision can be reached. Showing these insights and pain points visually makes it really easy for people to digest and understand a large volume of information, and to truly empathise with the users. Without empathy, we simply impose our own beliefs and bias, and expect customers to comply with our processes. In this way, we’ve enabled a mechanism to action changes quickly within NRW and enable a better chance to actually affect change”.
Presenting these insights back to all NRW employees - from sales to marketing, finance and operations - was a crucial component to understanding the mapping, and uncovering what the pain points were and where the opportunities were. Digging deep into the detail around what challenges customers were facing when dealing with NRW and understanding the reasons why some weren’t customers anymore was pivotal to proving the worth of our collaboration together, to all stakeholders within NRW and meant the process and the value of the work was able to stand on its own.
Following on, Mima delivered an action plan workshop to improve the customer journey for the timber sales team. The customer journey mapping work has been shared by the timber team in their public e-newsletter with a commitment to close the loop fully and share their action plans with their customers.
Ensuring that Mima was embedded in the NRW team and engaging with multiple stakeholders had further positive repercussions, as Naomi Lawrence points out; “another byproduct of this work, which we hadn't foreseen, was that what this has made people understand. For example, our Head of IT is very appreciative of this because most of the time, you don't just need to go and buy a whole new IT system, which was our prior default, but what this has done is made people think yes, I can fix and I don't need to spend vast amounts of money, but the outcome of actioning that opportunity will significantly improve the customers’ experience.” These quick wins are often overlooked as part of the process to help change the organisation within the short term.
Mima’s collaboration with NRW has just started, but the impact of our work with them has spurred NRW on to look further into investment in designing their services and exploring the opportunity spaces from more than a customer’s viewpoint.